The University And Contemporary Thought

Religion and the State University, edited by Erich A. Walter (University of Michigan Press, 1958, $6.50) and Religion and Learning at Yale, by Ralph H. Gabriel (Yale University Press, 1958, $4), are reviewed by W. Stanford Reid, Professor of History, McGill University.

The university in Western society for the past millennium has probably been one of the best mirrors of thought to be found anywhere within the communities it has operated. What is more, it has helped from time to time to mold the thought of its day. Thus, if mid-twentieth century Christians in America wish to understand the origins and direction of contemporary thinking, they would do well to study the history and present state of the universities on this continent. And in their pursuit they will be greatly aided by two recent books: Religion and the State University, and Religion and Learning at Yale.

In the first book some 20 authors have endeavored to explain the present position of religion in the state universities and how religion might be fostered within their walls without contravening their basic principle of separation of Church and State. According to their basic constitutions as land grant colleges, most state universities are obliged to maintain a position of religious neutrality and give no support to any ecclesiastical organization or body of religious dogma. Yet at the same time it is becoming increasingly apparent that these institutions, even on social grounds, cannot ignore religion. Nor apparently do many teachers in them wish to be irreligious. This is the basic problem.

All the writers in this symposium are in favor of religion. To them it is “a good thing,” and some have very pertinent remarks to make ...

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