We've asked 114 leaders from 11 ministry spheres about evangelical priorities for the next 50 years. Here's what they said about higher education.
When he wrote The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994), Mark Noll said, "Evangelicals sponsor dozens of theological seminaries, scores of colleges, hundreds of radio stations, and thousands of unbelievably diverse parachurch agencies, but not a single research university."
"We still don't have a full-blown graduate system to produce Ph.D.s for the Christian college movement," says Jerry Cain, president of Judson College. "Many of our Ph.D.s still have to come from the secular environment and thus they come into a Christian college environment with very few examples of how to be a Christian professor on a graduate level."
As a result, says Union University president David Dockery, Christian higher education's "biggest challenge is to take a Christian who has been educated in a thoroughly secular context and invite that person to teach on your faculty. It is almost a re-education process for new faculty members."
Building a large-scale mentorship system will help, says former Calvin College provost Joel Carpenter, who says that changing colleges into universities isn't necessarily a panacea. Many Christian schools have recently been adding master's programs so that they can call themselves universities, but "they tend not to be based so much on disciplined inquiry into theory and into philosophical, theological underpinnings. They are more about what is good professional practice."
But if there is to be an evangelical graduate university with deep commitments to both Christian faith and intense scholarship, it probably won't be built by the denominations that have produced so many ...1
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