Wednesday, March 05, 2008

HU & Christ-Centered Education

Enjoyed the Huntington University Symposium this morning with Dr. Noll.

He made an academically interesting case for Christ-centered scholarship.

My survey of his lecture:

The Christian Creeds of the third and fourth century arose in order to clarify, draw boundaries, protect key doctrines of the Trinity, especially the identity of Jesus Christ. Creating the creeds was a scholarly exercise rooted in pastoral needs. What to preach to the church? What does the content of our preaching mean for the content of our deeds?

Scholarship was essential for creating the creeds to address issues of doctrine and ethics in the third and fourth century, and scholarship is just as essential for rearticulating and reexplaining the creeds to address issues of doctrine and ethics in our century.

Not only was scholarship formative in our creedal development, but the creed of Colossians 1 opens up the whole of creation for scholarly work. All things are made by Christ and for Christ. So in theory, all scholarship as it pertains to discovery of truths of how our creation operates, is scholarship that reveals more of Christ the Creator. Christ-centered scholarship is, on the one hand, scholarship that holds Christ at the center of the creation we study. Christ-centered scholarship is also scholarship done with Christ at the center of the scholar.

Whether the scholar is studying history of civilizations, chemical composition of water, physical properties of lava, or tensions of supply and demand in a stagflated economy, Christ-centered scholarship requires the highest degree of excellence in motivation, methodology, composition, and presentation.

Following the initial session in the fieldhouse, a plenary session was held for students, one for staff, another for faculty; visitors like myself could choose one. I joined the faculty, for Dr. Noll and Dr. Litfin were present to answer questions in follow up to the initial lecture.

One helpful question that Dr. Woodruff posed: isn't good scholarship good scholarship regardless of whether it is Christ-centered?

The answer: yes.

But: Dr. Litfin went on to note that for the Christ-centered scholar who is producing world-class scholarship, there is MORE, not less, involved with the work done. We do the work for Christ, we do it by Christ, we do it for other Christians. We do it and by it have another reason to worship Christ the Creator.

Good answer.

It seems that there is some tension on campus concerning the whole point of this symposium, the merits of asking the questions, and the manner in which an answer is being pursued. It seems that some students are leery of the administrations motivations. It seems that some faculty are at odds with one another over what the question means, what different answers mean, and what the outcome should look like. Not that this should be surprising. May much good come of it.

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