Guest / Limited Access /

When I was in college, a professor told a story about a boy from a backwoods family who was being interviewed by a visiting anthropologist. Asked about his siblings, the boy proudly declared that his brother was at Harvard. The astonished anthropologist asked what the brother was studying. "It's not that way," replied the boy. "They're studying him."

Likewise, the academic world regards Christian theism as an object for study rather than as a participant in academic discourse, as Notre Dame history professor George Marsden has shown (see his new book The Soul of the American University, Oxford). The standards of academia discourage a professor who is teaching, say, the history of Christianity from taking the position that Christianity may be true. Such restrictions do not apply to advocates of other viewpoints. Socialists teach socialism, and feminists teach women's studies. As Marsden wrote in the "Wall Street Journal" (Dec. 22, 1993), "Many contemporary academics insist that the only respectable place for religion in the academy is on the syllabus-as an object of study-where it may be subordinated to Western scientific methods of analysis."

Sometimes this double standard requires that a thinker or group be split into two parts, to separate the politically correct from the incorrect. In Marsden's words: "One conspicuous example is that, although universities welcome African-Americans and build programs in African-American studies, they find little place for positive evaluations of the dominant religion of African-American culture." One might paraphrase this point by saying that the secular content of the Reverend Martin Luther King's views on racial justice has a very different status from the religious background of those ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Prolifers Arrested in Cairo
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
Subscriber Access Only The Seven Levels of Lying
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickA Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
A Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
Christianity Today
ARTICLE: Shouting Heresy in the Temple of Darwin
hide thisOctober 24 October 24

In the Magazine

October 24, 1994

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.