Integrating Faith and Learning: An Unapologetic Case for Christian Higher Education -- By: David S. Dockery
FM 18:1 (Fall 2000) p. 44
Integrating Faith and Learning:
An Unapologetic Case for Christian Higher Education
Jackson, Tennessee 38305
The integration of faith and learning is at the essence of authentic Christian higher education and should be wholeheartedly implemented across the campus and across the curriculum. Once the goal of almost every college in America, this is no longer the case. Prior to the nineteenth century, every college started in this country (with the exception of the Universities of Pennsylvania and Virginia) was a Christian-based college committed to revealed truth. All of that changed with the rise of secularization and specialization, creating dualisms of every kind: separation of head knowledge from heart knowledge, faith from learning, revealed truth from observed truth, and careers from vocation.
What happened was a loss of worldview in the academy. There was a failure to see that every discipline and every specialization could be and should be approached from the vantage point of faith, the foundational building block for a Christian worldview. The separation of faith from learning and teaching was the first step toward creating the confused and disconnected approach to higher education, even in church-related institutions.1
A brief overview of Christian higher education will help us see the shifts and changes in purpose and focus across the years. Early Christian education emphasized catechetical purposes as foundational. Medieval universities (those developed between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries) were largely for the purposes of professional education with some general education for the elite. Of the seventy-nine universities in Europe during this time, Salerno was best known for medicine, Bologna for law, and Paris for theology.
The Renaissance period emphasized the revival of Greek and Roman literature with the addition of newer subjects developed during the medieval period such as arithmetic, geometry, and music. The Reformation and Post-Reformation period placed all aspects of education within the context of a Christian worldview. Higher education reached its zenith, building on what had gone before, in America. Early American colleges governed by trustees from related
FM 18:1 (Fall 2000) p. 45
religious groups provided education within the context of faith and grounded in the pursuit of truth (veritas). Some of these schools included: