Christians today hold the hope for recovery from bad faith, cheap grace, and shallow piety.

Two forces come together when Christians gather in an academic setting. One is the power of the things of the spirit, the other the power of the matters of the mind. Things of the spirit include faith in God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and piety—the desire to live a holy life. Matters of the mind are the facts, feelings, and actions that result from intelligent human behavior.

It is dangerous to separate those two. Charles Frankel, a humanist only interested in the matters of the mind, cites three problems facing higher education today: a “new irrationalism,” which substitutes subjective feelings for sound thinking; a “new egalitarianism,” which rebels against any differences in authority or achievement; and a “new individualism,” which demands personal freedom without social responsibility. When students do not want to think rationally, be graded objectively, or be responsible socially, higher education is in trouble.

Michael Novak, the columnist, has made a similar diagnosis of the things of the spirit. He observes that the current born-again movement encourages “bad faith, cheap grace, and shallow piety.” Bad faith means subjective Christian experience without the rigor of sound thinking and critical testing. Cheap grace indicates the easy acceptance of Christ’s forgiveness without the sense of tragedy in the redemption cost. And shallow piety denotes a small, self-centered devotion that does not address the larger issues of societal and institutional evil.

In the Christian university, we strive to avoid these pitfalls by melding the things of the spirit and the matters of ...

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