B. B. Warfield On The Apologetic Nature Of Christian Scholarship: An Analysis Of His Solution To The Problem Of The Relationship Between Christianity And Culture -- By: Paul Kjoss Helseth

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 62:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: B. B. Warfield On The Apologetic Nature Of Christian Scholarship: An Analysis Of His Solution To The Problem Of The Relationship Between Christianity And Culture
Author: Paul Kjoss Helseth


B. B. Warfield On
The Apologetic Nature Of Christian Scholarship:
An Analysis Of His Solution
To The Problem Of The Relationship
Between Christianity And Culture

Paul Kjoss Helsethi

In The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, the sequel to his highly acclaimed The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief,1 historian George Marsden proposes that “mainstream American higher education should be more open to explicit discussion of the relationship of religious faith to learning.”2 He suggests no compelling reason exists for relegating religious perspectives to the periphery of academic life because the postmodernist critique of Enlightenment standards of objectivity has neutralized the intellectual rationale for suppressing perspectives that are considered by many to be “unscientific.”3 Since the contemporary academy “on its own terms” has no consistent grounds for rejecting perspectives that “are ultimately grounded in some faith or another,” Marsden submits that there ought to be room at the academic table for explicitly religious points of view “so long as their proponents are willing to support the rules necessary for constructive exchange of ideas in a pluralistic setting.”4 In such a setting, i.e., one where the modus operandi is informed by strict adherence to the ideals of the liberal pragmatic academy, the idea of self-consciously Christian scholarship will be anything but outrageous simply because the rules that govern the life of the academy will be applied “equally to religious and nonreligious views” alike.5

While Marsden’s proposal is to be commended because it urges Christian scholars to take part in the life of the academy and to transform university life by working to improve those rules that marginalize the Christian perspective, it may also be critiqued for encouraging Christian scholars to accommodate their scholarly activity to rules of academic comportment that relegate the teaching of the Bible to the status of a mere “background

belief.”6 Christians can reflect on the implications of special revelation within the bounds of the mainstream academy, Marsden contends, but they can do so only “by talking about them conditionally.”7 ...

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