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In the fifteenth episode of the Saturdays at Seven conversation series, Todd Ream talks with Alister McGrath, a Senior Research Fellow with the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, the Andreos Idreos Professor of Science and Religion Emeritus, and a Fellow Emeritus with Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford. McGrath opens by talking about his interest in the work of Fr. Tomáš Halík and the relevance of Halík’s work for Christian discipleship in a postsecular age. McGrath then details how he goes about evaluating the merits of intellectual work and how to build bridges between theology and various disciplines and then, in particular, between theology and the natural sciences. Ream and McGrath then close their conversation by talking about contributions Christian scholars can make to the Church and how scholars can persist even when their work appears to be of no immediate interest to the Church.

Todd Ream: Welcome to Saturdays at Seven, Christian Scholar’s Review’s conversation series with thought leaders about the academic vocation and the relationship that vocation shares with the Church. My name is Todd Ream. I have the privilege of serving as the publisher for Christian Scholar’s Review and as the host for Saturdays at Seven. I also have the privilege of serving on the faculty and the administration at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Our guest is Alister McGrath, Senior Research Fellow with the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion, the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion Emeritus, and a fellow emeritus with Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford. Thank you for joining us.

Alister McGrath: Well, it’s a real pleasure to be with you. Thank you for having me.

Todd Ream: One of your most recent articles argues for the emerging relevance of the wisdom of Father Tomáš Halík, a Czech priest, philosopher, and theologian. Would you please begin by saying more about the arc of Halik’s life and how you came to encounter his work?

Alister McGrath: Well, I came to encounter his work because, um, there’s a longstanding link between Oxford and Prague, between Oxford University and Charles University. And I, I was involved in some academic work at Charles University. And also, um, Tomáš Halík is quite well known in England, and he has, in fact, a special relationship with my college.

And so when he won the Templeton Prize, we actually had a, a wonderful dinner for him. And he and I spent a lot of time talking about theology and philosophy. So basically, I find him really, really interesting. I think what I find interesting about him is basically, if I include like this, the way in which he seems to have this intuitive instinct for engaging with a post Christian culture.

And of course, Halík was there through the whole period in which Uh, Czechoslovakia became Marxist, then gave up on Marxism, then split into two and began to think maybe we can recover Christianity. Then discovered it couldn’t. And so Halík began to develop this very interesting proposal for reconnecting with the nation as it went into a post Christian phase.

So he’s very interesting theologically and philosophically, but most interesting, I think, culturally, because he gives us ways of engaging with a rapidly changing cultural situation. And frankly, I think there’s a lot we can learn from him.

Todd Ream: In your estimation, how does Halík understand discipleship? 

Alister McGrath: I think he understands discipleship as not simply an internal appropriation of the Christian faith, but also a willingness to kind of way embody and express this in a changing culture. And so discipleship, if you like, is not simply about him embracing the Christian faith, but also a responsibility to try and articulate this or, or communicate this to a rapidly changing culture.

I think one of the things I appreciate so much about him is his willingness, not simply to say this needs to be done, but actually to do it himself. In other words, he’s an exemplar, not simply somebody who writes books, he does this. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I find him so engaging, that I can point to him and say, don’t just, you know, read his books. Look at what he does. And I find that really encouraging. 

Todd Ream: What relevance do you believe Halík’s work has for the Church, as it navigates the challenges and opportunities residing at the intersection of the secular and post secular in the United Kingdom, perhaps for the Church in the United States?

Alister McGrath: I think one of the things that I take away from reading Halík is his, his, his realization that if you’re going to communicate with a culture, you need to be embedded in that culture and know its questions, know its anxieties, and still be able to interpret the Christian faith to that cultural location.

And of course, um, you know, the modern Czech Republic is not the same as Canada or the United States. And so I think in many ways, what Halík would say to American readers, is look, I can help you in many ways, but you, you know, your context and you can figure out how you can in effect do something in that context to, to reconnect with the Christian faith.

I think that’s something really important, but as we are seeing a lot of disconnection at the moment and quite often, it’s because people fail to explain the difference that Christianity makes to people. It’s presented as ideas rather than, in effect, a life changing phenomenon. So I do think Halík is, is saying some very helpful things, um, in the modern American culture at the moment. 

Todd Ream: In what ways does Halík’s work speak to you? Inform your own understanding of the Christian faith? 

Alister McGrath: Oh, yes. Good question. Well, as a theologian, I find him, uh, I find him someone who in effect understands theology and sees what can be done with theology. In other words, he’s a practitioner. And one thing that stands out for me really is Halík’s analysis of the idea of mystery. 

Because, I mean, he’s not just making the point that Christianity is something that cannot be intellectually controlled. I think that’s a very clear point. But he’s making a different point, which is really that Christianity is inexhaustible. If I’m put like this, it’s a mystery in the sense that it keeps on giving and giving and giving. As you go in deeper, you find there’s still more to discover. And that’s one of the reasons why he takes Christian discipleship so seriously.

It’s about peeling away, layer after layer, discovering more and more, and getting really excited about this. Not simply because it’s good for you, but because you can see how you can use this, this, this conceptual richness and depth to be able to connect up with a skeptical culture. So I think that’s really important.

This emphasis on mystery, not as a kind of way of backing off, but rather as way of resourcing the Church to be able to engage with the culture.

Todd Ream: How would you compare your own life and work with Halík’s life and work?

Alister McGrath: Well, I think he’s rather better than I am and more interesting, but there are, there are similarities. I mean, one of them is that both of us, um, recognize the importance of, of Zacchaeus as a kind of, um, uh, exemplar. Zacchaeus is someone who’s drawn to Christ, but keeps his distance. 

And I know lots of people who are deeply drawn to Christianity, but they don’t want to tell anybody, they don’t want to show this. They, they kind of way want to keep it a safe distance. And that’s something I think is really interesting. 

How does the Church maintain a liminal space in which people can kind of way look in without having to become part of it? And, and to me, that’s a really important role to play. And Halík does this through the academic parish of Prague, where he, in effect, with his colleagues, gives homilies which are carefully designed to, in fact, inform without demanding commitment.

And I think we can build on this. I think in many ways, he’s modeling a very powerful approach to outreach, which is not in grab. It’s much more gradually drawing aside the curtains. You can see what this is. And when you’re ready, you come in. 

Todd Ream: Another person about whom you’ve written extensively is C. S. Lewis. In what ways would you argue that the years of your respective childhoods in Northern Ireland were comparable? Perhaps different?

Alister McGrath: Well, that’s a really good question. I mean, both of us grew up in Northern Ireland, and both of us were atheists, actually, while we were teenagers, and we both discovered Christianity, while we were at Oxford. So there are some similarities there. I mean, I’m really a scientist. Lewis is very much a humanities person.

But I have to tell you that Lewis has probably been the single most important influence on my Christian life, because as a, as a teenager, I was a very aggressive atheist. In fact, when I read Richard Dawkins these days, I get all nostalgic because I used to be like that when I was 16. 

But um, basically, um, when I discovered Christianity at Oxford, um, I needed someone to help me think things through and my, my Christian friends couldn’t do it. I mean, I was asking questions about the Trinity and stuff like that. And they were, they were a bit troubled by that. And someone said, look, please start reading C. S. Lewis. And that was back in 1974. I read him. I thought, this is good. This is, this is, this is, this is food for the mind and the soul.

And I still read him to this day. He’s, he’s just so good. He, his language is very suggestive, very, very rich, very, very easy to follow. But the conceptual and imaginative depth of what he says is so interesting. So I really do find him very, very helpful. And also what I’ve noticed is because Lewis deemphasizes his denominational commitment, he’s just a Christian, he actually has a reach beyond the Church, which is very, very significant. So I, I find very often that channeling Lewis is a very, very good way of connecting with audiences who might not listen to a particularly denominational theologian. So he’s very, very rich and very, very interesting.

Todd Ream: In what ways were the respective years the two of you spent in Oxford comparable? Perhaps also different?

Alister McGrath: Well, I think, um, Oxford is a very, very rich and challenging intellectual environment and you very quickly recognize the questions that are being asked and the need to be able to answer these. So if you like, Oxford’s almost like an intellectual laboratory. You know, you’re being, you’re being bombarded with questions and you have to work out, can I find good answers?

And so if you like, um, it’s sink or swim, you have to learn how to do this. Lewis learned. I learned in a slightly different way because many of the concerns I had related to the rationality of science and things like that. But certainly I find Lewis enormously helpful, um, not so much in relation to the science, but in terms of how you, how you engage a secular culture, the language you use, the way you approach it, and I think, in particular, the way in which you translate Christianity into the language of our secular culture. 

So I’ve learned a lot from Lewis, and I’m sure it’s a lot to do with Oxford. But my own deep fear is this, if Christianity can’t hold its own at Oxford, it’s dead.

You know, we’ve, we’ve got to be able to demonstrate that Christianity is able to offer a serious intellectual alternative to what we find in our culture around us. I’m not saying Christianity is essentially intellectual. I’m just saying we have to be able to articulate our faith in ways that captures the intellectual imagination. And Oxford and many other places are really important in trying that out and doing that. 

Todd Ream: In what ways would you argue that your respective engagements with atheism were comparable? Perhaps also different? 

Alister McGrath: Well, I think Lewis, um Lewis has a very interesting way of engaging with atheism. It’s both intellectual, but also imaginative. I mean, he makes a point, for example, that as an atheist, he was angry with God for allowing, well, the First World War in which Lewis fought and he was wounded. 

And yet he began to realize it wasn’t that simple, you know? That how had he got this idea that, um, there was a standard of goodness by which he could make the judgment that God was deficient or this world was deficient. And of course, uh, it all seemed to boil down to a matter of taste. There had to be some independent standpoint. And if there was some independent standpoint, well, actually, wasn’t that, wasn’t that pointing the direction of a transcendent reality and hence God? 

So, Lewis developed some very good intellectual arguments, but interestingly, his really important argument is imaginative. If we cannot, um, think about the really important things in life, like justice and beauty and goodness, then in effect, we are, we are unable to exist properly as human beings. That in effect, to be human is to want to think these deep thoughts. 

And Lewis simply makes the point that atheism or indeed the kind of enlightenment rationalism he knew shut down these conversations, and in doing so impoverished us, and I would say dehumanized us. There’s some very interesting lines of argument there, which I think continue to be important in our contemporary discussions.

Todd Ream: In addition to Lewis and Halík, to whom do you turn for theological inspiration? To whom do you turn for intellectual inspiration, regardless of discipline?

Alister McGrath: Well, I, I, I, I’m one of these awful people who I’m like a butterfly. I, you know, I flit from one flower to another and if I like it, I stay and if I don’t, I just move on. So I read a huge amount. And very often I just say, well, that was, that was interesting, but not again, whereas I come across people like, well, the philosopher John Gray, who writes really well and actually makes an extremely powerful critiques of the new atheism and indeed various forms of atheism he doesn’t like.

So here we have an atheist really helping me to engage my atheist colleagues. And of course, you know, at Oxford, people like Sir Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire, many other people like that, I just find myself thinking I can see how I can use them. 

So if you like, I’m reading these people, um, A, to resource me, but B, because I can see that I can use these people in the kind of cultural conversations I’m having. So if you like, it’s good for me, but it quips me for my writing and for my speaking ministry.

Todd Ream: When evaluating the merits of theological work, what questions prove most critical to you to ask?

Alister McGrath: Well, I think there are several. I mean, one of them is how well does this enmesh with the scriptural background? Another is, um, how has this kind of way helped the Christian Church to grow? And we might ask a whole series of questions about intellectual coherence and things like that. 

But as I’ve got older, actually, I find that one criterion does stand out, and that is how useful is this? How useful is this in, um, in effect enabling you to live a Christian way of life? How, how does this help us flourish, not just exist, but flourish? 

And I do enjoy reading the French writer, Pierre Hadot um, who very often says ancient philosophy is really more a way of living than a set of ideas. The ideas are important, but they’re important because they enable you to live well. 

And I’ve come to appreciate that more about Christianity. It’s not just it’s intellectually wonderful. It is. But it enables you to live an authentic and hopeful life in a world, frankly, that’s chaotic and devoid of hope. So, very often I find myself evaluating theological writers for how well they articulate this idea of being able to live well as a Christian, and I find early Christian writers are very, very good at this.

Todd Ream: How do you define the Christian academic vocation? 

Alister McGrath: Well, I think we really do need Christian academics, um, because they are the salt of the earth. If we didn’t have them, the academy would simply lose a very, very important dialogue, which we need to maintain, not just because Christians are expressing the Christian ideas in the academy, but because, in effect, they’re also testing out how various approaches work, in terms of having good conversations and profitable outcomes.

That I think that is very important, but certainly in my own case, um, um, I didn’t expect to become a theologian. I was an atheist when I was a younger man. But I can see that my Oxford base, which I had for a very long time, really does help me test bad ideas. It helps me to check out, um- 

Well, I’ve understood a particular philosopher well. I was just gonna have dinner with somebody and check it out. And I think it’s a wonderful environment, not simply to talk about Christianity, but to in fact, get a good sense of what the, what the current conversations are and how I can contribute them to them meaningfully. So I find this very rich, very informing, very exciting, and it’s great fun being part of this. 

Todd Ream: Regardless of discipline, with what questions, if any, do you believe Christian scholars need to be prepared to grapple? Grapple with as individuals, grapple with as members of an academic community? 

Alister McGrath: I think that’s a really good question. I mean, there are lots of classic questions, which I think are really important, like the nature of truth, um, and, um, how we can think of God interacting with the world. And these are all very, very important. 

What I’m finding in my conversations with many academics and also just intelligent people in the broader culture is, um, we’re looking for meaning, we’re looking for significance, we’re looking for value. And if you think about those three ideas, significance, meaning, value, I mean, Christianity does talk about these a lot, um, and has a lot to say.

And one of the things I’ve discovered to my delight, I have to say, is that when I begin to say, well, actually Christianity does actually engage these questions, let me explain how, they’re interested. And I think that’s really important because, um, It is not, it is saying something like this. And Christianity is not just intellectually interesting. It’s not just potentially true. It actually has the ability to speak to the deepest questions of human existence. 

And that’s really important, I think, because people are searching for something that’s really helpful, significant, and stable. And I think it’s very good just to revisit Christianity and realize how, how rich it is in these resources. So I found myself talking about these things a lot. I mean, I’m sure there are many other things I could be talking about, but I’m just noticing that when I do talk about these things: A, I get very large audiences and B, people want to keep talking. So I think that’s, that’s saying something about, um, where our culture is going and what it’s looking for.

Todd Ream: Some of your most well known work exists at the intersection of science and religion. What do you believe are some of the most fruitful forms of dialogue emerging from that intersection in your own work, in the work of other individuals pursuing comparable questions?

Alister McGrath: I think there are a range of questions that people are always going to want to ask about the Christian faith. I mean, uh, how does, for example, the seemingly rather simple figure of Jesus in the Gospels relate to the rather more complex theological realities we find, for example, in the Council of Chalcedon? How did that transition happen? 

I think it happened rationally, necessarily, and it makes complete sense. But someone needs to explain that to people because very often there’s this feeling there’s a disjunction between a simple Jesus and a complex Christ. So we need to, in effect, talk about that. 

But I think that for me, one of the things that really stands out here, if I can put it like this, is in effect showing, not simply that Christianity is intellectually interesting, but it’s existentially significant.

And I think that’s one of the things I worry about because obviously, you know, I’ve had a long career of teaching theology. I have to say that most of that teaching has been at the level of explaining ideas, where they come from, why they make sense and so on. But really, I think what we need to do is go one stage further and say, if these things are true, what difference do they make?

I think that’s really relevant for the contemporary debates about, um, deconstruction or deconversion, where very often people who have been Christians kind of lose their way a bit. And very often it’s because they haven’t really grasped how these Christian truths actually transform us, actually give us a, uh, a really powerful grip on the world.

I think more needs to be done to explain that, not simply why we believe this, but the difference that this makes if it’s true. So I think there’s a very important issue there about theological communication. And finally, of course, um, if we believe in embodiment, it’s not just about explaining things. It’s about showing in your own existence the difference that these things make. In other words, modeling the Christian life and being able to say, this is how these set of ideas actually work out in practice.

Todd Ream: In 1896, the founding president of Cornell University, Andrew Dixon White, published his two volume, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. In what ways, if any, do you believe the relationship science and theology share as warfare is apt? Mistaken?

Alister McGrath: Well, this is very interesting. I mean, obviously, I was a scientist as a young man and still remain involved in, um, science in many ways, but for me, it was personally important to figure out how science and faith relate to each other, because as an atheist I just assumed that religion and science were antithetical, were opposed to each other. Obviously, I don’t think that anymore, but a lot of people in our culture do, and we need to find ways of engaging that. 

I think for me, one of the most interesting things I have observed is the transition in the last 20 years. Because back, uh, about the, uh, well, 2000, um, you know, I found it a bit of a struggle to kind of persuade people outside the Church that there’s kind of an interesting dialogue in science and religion. Then the new atheism came along and suddenly everyone was talking about this. And gradually people began to realize that actually the new atheism hadn’t quite got this right. 

And so what I now find is people saying, well, of course, science hasn’t answered all our questions. Um, show us how the Christian faith is able to A, explain why science is so effective and B, is able to in effect, say things that science can’t say.

I have to say, I really enjoy those conversations and those talks because they really, um, they really show this as a connection going on, which I think was a, was an unintended consequence of the new atheism. Um, I published a book recently as my friend, uh, Dennis Alexander of Cambridge called, um, Coming to Faith through Dawkins. And this is a collection of 12, I suppose, personal testimonies of prominent people who began by thinking Richard Dawkins is absolutely right. They read him more closely and thought, no, he’s not, there’s something wrong here. And then decided to check out Christianity instead, and these are narratives of of conversion. 

I think both very, very crudely. And I think it shows there’s a change in the cultural mood. We’re moving away from the kind of scientific rationalism of the 1990s, early 2000s to a realization that science is indeed wonderful, but it can’t answer all our questions and we need to find a way of making those connections. 

And I find that most of the big talks i’m being asked to give at the moment are very much about how we construct links, how we build bridges, how we’re able to in effect say to scientists what you’re doing is great, but there’s more that needs to be said and trying to offer a more expansive vision, which includes, um, some theology, which really gives you a sense of, of what is so important about human life. And science is part of that, but only part of that.

Todd Ream: As the author of more than 50 books, how do you make sense of the arc of your own work? 

Alister McGrath: Well, I, I think, um, I may be one of these people who’s got very limited attention span. And so I find myself in I guess, you know, I very often find, you know, I’m fascinated by a question then a year later, oh, I’m often doing something else, but I retain what I learned from engaging that I just, I just, I’ve only got one life and there’s so much as interesting. I find myself really ranging very wide. 

I mean, okay. I do set down some very deep roots in some areas, but I just find so many things so interesting that very often I want to go and explore these. Sometimes I’ll write about these, but it’s really, if you like, just this deep sense of inquisitiveness, this deep sense of, um, this sounds interesting. I want to follow through on this. And it may go nowhere, but sometimes that feeling of something interesting here has led to a major research program. 

So I guess I’m someone who ranges very widely and that means I like talking to people a lot. You know, I, I’m always delighted when I find someone to talk to who can help me think about things. Um, so it does help some various in conversations. 

So I suppose, uh, in many ways, the risk of what I’ve just described is superficiality and I fully understand that. But, um, every now and then I do go deep and find that very satisfying, but I’m always looking for the next interesting idea to see if that would, uh, uh, give me still further food for thought.

Todd Ream: What questions, if any, define that arc? 

Alister McGrath: I think all the time I keep coming back to, um, the question of, um, what it is about human beings that makes them want to ask questions, that makes them realize there might be a bigger picture which they have not yet fully glimpsed, a sense that if you like, um, the human condition, to use Albert Camus’ nice phrase, is to ask questions and to seek meaning.

And I’m like that. I mean, uh, when I was younger, I was a Marxist thinking that answered my questions. It didn’t, but, uh, it was very interesting while it lasted. Uh, and I think that really, um, if I’m put like this, if the human condition is to ask questions, um, that means people are up for a conversation.

And that’s one of the reasons why I just find this so interesting because it gives me opportunities of beginning to understand why a lot of people are not Christians, but also to explore ways of perhaps introducing them to Christianity using ideas that might actually connect up with where they are at the moment.

Todd Ream: With what questions do you hope to grapple in the foreseeable future?

Alister McGrath: Well, listen, I’m gettIng old, so there are a number of deep existential questions about old age and death, which I think I will be wrestling with. But I think the answer is basically that, um, there are, there are a lot of questions I’d love to engage and I’m planning some projects. I know that’s a, that’s a rather dangerous thing to do at my age, but I’m planning some projects which might well allow me to either go deeper in some things I already know about or to open up some new things.

But I think, um, if I include like, there’s one, one of things I have found is that very often quite separate research projects, sometimes end up connecting with each other. For example, in the last year or so, one of the things I’ve done a lot of work on is using C. S. Lewis to, in effect, open up deep existential conversations with secular culture.

And, and, and these are two different areas of my life, but actually they’ve converged. And actually Lewis is a very good dialogue partner and a very good, um, if you like, um, uh, front or, or, um, presenting mode, to, to engage secular culture in these matters. Cause everyone’s heard of them and they’re interested.

So very often you find that one of the things you do is not so much discover something new, but actually bring some things together and find that they, they yield a very creative synthesis. So I find that really interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any more that might, uh, be around the corner. 

Todd Ream: Your own formation for the academic vocation included the formal study of molecular physics and theology. For Christian scholars whose formation involves the study of one discipline and one discipline not being theology, what ongoing formative practices would you recommend?

Alister McGrath: I think, uh, one very important formative practice is is conversations and, uh, find people who can help you with what you don’t know. I was very, very fortunate at Oxford when I started studying theology because of our tutorial systems, whereby in effect, people would just say, look, we’re going to help you understand this. And they did. And eventually I reached the point where I could move forward on my own. 

But I think one of the key things is finding people who can help you make connections or understand something that you realize is important, but you don’t know about. I think that an academic context very often is really helpful like that. But what I would say really is that, um, building bridges, but across disciplines or, um, between different aspects of your life very often takes quite a long time and you do need to be patient. 

There’s not something that you can do in the weekend and you really got to say, this is worthwhile. It’s going to take some time, but the outcome will repay the investment.

So I think I would just say that if you’re serious about building bridges in different aspects of your life, it will take some time, but the reward is definitely worthwhile. So let me just encourage you to get in there and keep going. 

Todd Ream: If anything, what do you believe the Christian scholar owes the Church? 

Alister McGrath: Well, I think a Christian scholar owes the Church quite a lot. I’ve always had this deep sense that, um, one of my jobs is to, um, to help people make the journey I made, but make it more quickly and less painfully. That’s one of the reasons why I write textbooks, because in effect, what took me a long time to understand and a long time to explain might help others do that more quickly, more effectively. 

So I think that’s one of the things that scholars can do. They can, in effect, help people to understand things and see things. Very often, the wisdom that’s been hard won over a long period of time can actually be passed on quite effectively to a rising generation.

But for me, um, particularly Christian theologians have a really important role. Because for me, theology is not a set of ideas. It’s, if you like, uh, an enfolding or an encasement of the, the central vision that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. And it’s that that’s going to keep Christianity and the churches going.

And so for me, if you like, as someone who’s seen this, I can try and help individuals and communities, um, exhibit this vision and, and, and show people that at the heart of the Christian faith is this wonderful vision of reality, which certainly is expressed in creeds and various things like that, but the heart reality is the vision.

And that’s what I think really, I think I need to do as a Christian academic to try and convey that. But certainly, um, what the academic, uh, can do for the Church is to keep it informed, to make sure it’s always able to engage the questions our culture is asking, and to make sure that we are never seen to be irrelevant.

And I think’s a very important point, particularly as in my view, our culture is speeding up. And people are increasingly restless, and so they get very impatient with old wisdom. I seem to say to you, look, old wisdom is there for a reason. It stood the test of time. And you need to realize that some of the ideas you’re coming up with are not even going to be talked about in five years time.

So it’s very, very important to, to talk about the historical roots of faith and why its historical rootedness is actually very significant.

Todd Ream: If anything, what do you believe the Church owes the Christian scholar? 

Alister McGrath: I think it’s always good if the Church kind of says you might be helpful and important for our ministry, because sometimes, particularly here in England, we have bishops or church leaders who will say, oh, we don’t need this stuff. It’s all about managerial techniques, finding the right way of presenting things.

I think all of us for academics want to say, no, it’s not like that. I mean, we really have to make sure that the rich heart of the Christian faith is effectively presented. So I think, I think that’s something I would look for the Church to just say a bit of affirmation, a bit of encouragement. 

But I think in the end, most Christian academics will just, just do their own thing and say, we’re doing this because it needs to be done, even if we’re not always encouraged to do it. 

Um, C. S. Lewis, for example, a very good example of someone like this, um, didn’t get all that much encouragement from his own Church, but he just, he just felt, well, you know, this needs to be done. I’m going to do it. And I’m so glad he did.

Todd Ream: Our guest has been Alister McGrath, Senior Fellow with the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion, the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion Emeritus, and a fellow emeritus with Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and wisdom with us.

Alister McGrath: Well, we had a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much indeed.

Todd Ream: Thank you for joining us for Saturdays at Seven, Christian Scholar’s Review’s conversation series with thought leaders about the academic vocation and the relationship that vocation shares with the Church. We invite you to join us again next week for Saturdays at Seven.

Todd C. Ream

Indiana Wesleyan University
Todd C. Ream is Honors Professor of Humanities and Executive Director of Faculty Research and Scholarship at Indiana Wesleyan University, Senior Fellow for Public Engagement for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Senior Fellow for Programming for the Lumen Research Institute, and Publisher for Christian Scholar’s Review.  He is the author and editor of numerous books including (with Jerry Pattengale) The Anxious Middle: Planning for the Future of the Christian College (Baylor University Press, September 15, 2023).