Faith & Scholarship: A General Bibliography for Christian Academics
by Jonathan Boyd
This bibliography offers a focused list of readings for academics who are asking the question of what it means to be Christians in the university. We don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive or definitive list. Nevertheless, we hope that you will find plenty of items here that will encourage you in your exploration of what it means to combine faith and scholarship in your academic field.
Barth, Karl. "Faith as Confession." In Dogmatics in Outline. Trans. G. T. Thompson. New York: Harper & Bros., 1959.
The brief but extremely meaty chapter is a statement of the foundational theology behind the project of integrating faith and scholarship — of taking faith and speaking it forth among believers and forth into the world. Discussion questions are available.
Hart, D. G. "What's So Special about the University, Anyway?" In Religious Advocacy and American History, ed. Bruce Kuklick and D. G. Hart, 137-56. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
We recommend this entire book for historians, but Hart's piece is profitable for all university-dwellers. He frankly wonders whether the Emperor's got anything on. In the depths of our all-too-peaceful academic socialization, Hart issues a bracing wake-up call (if only by asking the question). He's not making the time-honored American move of rejecting the university as too intellectual — but as not intellectual enough.
Kennedy, Rick. Review of A Social History of Truth, by Steven Shapin. Fides et Historia 27, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 1995): 94-95.
This brief review concisely reveals why a so-called "postmodern" epistemology appeals to many evangelicals. Reviewing Shapin's historical account of the importance of social values in the practice of natural science, Kennedy here seizes the opportunity to discuss recent trends critical of individualism and false objectivity, shedding light on common ground between evangelicals and secular theorists.
Lewis, C. S. "Learning in War-Time." In The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. Various editions available.
Lewis was called upon to address Oxford undergraduates in 1939 upon the outbreak of World War II, and he delivered this sermon of reassurance and challenge. He forcefully meets the objection against learning presented by other, urgent claims upon our time and labors, arguing that learning should never be deferred for "a more convenient time" which will never come.
Malik, Charles Habib. A Christian Critique of the University. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1982.
A sadly out-of-print classic from IVP which can be very difficult to find, but well worth going out of your way for. Perhaps they'll be reissuing this one?
Marsden, George M. The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
This book-length essay expands on the "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" of Marsden's historical Soul of the American University (1994). Discussion questions for the introduction and chapters 3-6 are available to ESN members.
At the end of his book, in “Getting Specific: A Readable Appendix," Marsden also mentions some of the salient names and publications that stand as exemplars of the Christian scholarship he's talking about.
Noll, Mark A. "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind." Christianity Today 37, no. 12 (25 October 1993): 29-32.
A truly seminal article, based on Noll's inaugural lecture as McManis Professor at Wheaton College. This article forms the kernel of Noll's book of 1995 by the same title, which we also recommend.
Schwehn, Mark R. Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
See especially chapters 1-3: "The Academic Vocation," "Communities of Learning," and "Spirited Inquiry," which offer simultaneously an intriguing sociology of academic knowledge as well as a powerful alternative vision of what it might become. (If Max Weber has been getting under your skin, be especially certain to check out Schwehn's telling analysis.)
Stegner, Wallace. Crossing to Safety. New York: Random House, 1987. Reprint, New York: Penguin, 1988.
This novel by the Stanford humanities professor Stegner is worth recommending for countless reasons (not least of which are his gifts of gently probing metaphor and of physical description). But we list it here because of the light it sheds on scholarly aspirations, ambitions, politics, achievements, and disappointments, both in and out of the academy. (Calling all Badgers: you must read how Stegner sketches Madison in the 1930s!)
Trevethan, Tom. "Recovering Our Christian Mind and Nerve: Graduate Student Ministry." RTSF Bulletin, no. 12 (September/October 1996): 3-9.
Useful as a "call to arms" for graduate-student ministry and Christian engagement with the university world generally. Published at the GFM web site with a discussion guide.
Wolterstorff, Nicholas. "Professorship as a Legitimate Calling." The Crucible 2, no. 3 (Spring 1992): 19-22.
A brief explanation of how academic work can be a spiritual calling, an act of cultural and social critique and of redemptive practice (with a useful scheme, along the way, dividing all philosophies into naturalistic, humanistic, and Christian) — a summons to "critical, creative, discerning engagement" (22).
Wuthnow, Robert. "Living the Question: Evangelical Christianity and Critical Thought." Cross Currents (Summer 1990): 160-75. Later published as: "Living the Question." In Christianity in the Twenty-First Century: Reflections on the Challenges Ahead. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Princeton sociologist Wuthnow relates pointed and poignant stories of Christians working in academia (including himself), and also offers some comments about the often class-based marginalization of evangelicals. He argues that we must be willing to "tell the story" of our being evangelical scholars, especially when that story includes our disinherited state within academia.
Discussion questions are available at the GFM web site.
Another Bibliographical Source
Walsh, Brian J. and J. Richard Middleton. "A Bibliography We Can't Live Without." In Discipleship of the Mind, by James W. Sire, 219-43. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1990.
Middleton and Walsh revised and updated the bibliography from their book, The Transforming Vision, and Jim Sire appended it here in his own excellent book. This bibliography is organized by topics and by academic discipline.