With the release of this first issue of our fifty-first volume, we celebrate fifty years of God’s faithfulness to Christian Scholar’s Review. As with any anniversary we look to our past, consider the current status of Christian scholarship, and look forward with thanksgiving and some trepidation to the next fifty years.
Looking to the past, Todd Steen, Granger Professor of Economics at Hope College and our intrepid managing editor starts us off with the fruit of over a year of combing through the journal’s archives, minutes, and business reports to bring us the history of the journal, starting with its 1960s roots in the Gordon Review. What comes through clearly from this well-researched piece is that the journal has been a labor of love from its very inception to its current editorial board who continue to be committed to taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. Given the journal’s social location, its history is broader in scope than its pages; without ever being self-referential it has been an important channel for the intellectual accomplishments of the twentieth century American neo-evangelical movement. Steen captures this context well. This piece is more than just the history of the journal.1
Looking to the present and the future, we offer a review symposium of George Marsden’s newly released The Soul of the American University Revisited (2021, OUP). In the original 1994 edition, the subtitle was: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief. A scant twenty-seven years later, the subtitle of the second edition reads, From Protestant to Postsecular. What does it mean for Christian scholars to find themselves working in this postsecular academic milieu where, in a sense, all ideas are “sacred,” and everyone gets a “seat at the table,” but no one is especially interested or incensed by the ideas of anyone else? We asked four Christian scholars/ administrators to read the revised edition and provide a 3,000-word essay mixing personal reflections on their experiences leading in the postsecular context with what they saw as important “take-aways” from the book. Professor Marsden then engages with those four essays while our publisher, Todd Ream (Professor of Higher Education, Taylor University) provides a personal reflection on all five essays. Thanks to Susan VanZanten (who recently retired as Dean and Professor of Humanities and Literature, Christ College, Valparaiso University), Susan M. Felch (who recently retired as Professor of English and Director of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, Calvin University), Philip Ryken (President and Professor of Theology, Wheaton College) and Julia D. Hejduk (The Reverend Jacob Stiteler Professor of Classics and Associate Dean of the Honors College, Baylor University) for their participation. I would like to add a huge note of gratitude to George Marsden for his willingness to be part of this. There is some poetry to having this symposium in the journal fifty years after Professor Marsden served as one of its founding editors.
Book reviews have always been an important part of the journal, clocking in at over 3,000 printed during this period. Our new book review editor, Steve Oldham, (Professor of Religion at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor where he recently served as Provost) took on the nearly quixotic task of choosing just nineteen reviews to reprint. Many of the books are now classics but were reviewed close to publication without any certain foreknowledge of their later impact. Because of this, the reviews lack a certain hagiography of the books and their authors, creating a more equal dialogue between the reviewers and the works they critique. In tomorrow’s blog, Oldham explains in greater detail his curation of these nineteen reviews.
On a personal note, several of the authors or reviewers are old friends and it was good to hear their voices again through these reviews. But in many cases I did not know the reviewers and spent some time tracking down information about them. I was struck by the biography of Bill Herzog, former Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern College(Iowa), who reviewed Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death in back in 1987. After graduating from high school in 1945, Professor Herzog served in the US Army for two years in Germany after its surrender, went on to earn a BA in biblical literature at Wheaton College, served with The Latin America Mission for nine years, and then earned an MA and PhD in communication. In 1981, he joined the Northwestern faculty to start a new department of communication studies, from which he retired in 1999. He was a dedicated churchman who loved singing, playing the piano, and directing his church choir for several years.
Professor Herzog represents the best in the emergence of neo-evangelicalism in the mid-20th century. Having seen the horrors of WWII, he returned to the States committed to serving the global church and higher education. His work as a missionary led him to take on graduate work, which in turn led him to a second long-lasting career as a professor where he invested in bringing his faith to bear on an academic vocation. He may not have attained the renown of others who at times graced the pages of CSR, but nevertheless, he showed a long obedience in the same direction.
These book reviews are more than just a critique of literature. They tell the story of American evangelicalism. The books and reviewers provide a snapshot of how we thought and what we thought was important to us. At many colleges and universities, book reviews are not held in as high regard for promotion and tenure as other types of scholarship but, after reading these (and many others in this journal), I believe that faculty committees and chief academic officers should give greater credence to book reviews, if not in scholarship, then in service to the academy. They are not only scholarly works, but in CSR, they are also historical works.
A note on our new logo
In creating a visual representation of our mission, the emblem includes the cross—representing our Christian commitment; an open book—representing our commitment to God’s special and general revelations; and a torch—representing the beacon of Truth. The three lines represent creation, culture, and vocation, which as part of our mission reads, “[the] primary objective is the publication of peer-reviewed scholarship and research, within and across the disciplines, that advances the integration of faith and learning and contributes to a broader and more unified understanding of the nature of creation, culture, and vocation and the responsibilities of those whom God has created.” Finally, our motto “In captivitatem redigere omnem intellectum” is the infinitive tense of the Latin vulgate translation of 2Cor 10:5 reading “taking every thought captive.”2
- Thanks to Grace Stevenson, a student at Hope College, for her help with this project.
- Thanks to Ian Labardee at Mighty in the Midwest, and John Hwang, Julia Robleski, and Shiori Zinnen at Lanio for their work on the design of the new logo. Thanks to Alex Loney, Associate Professor of Classical Languages at Wheaton College for his help with the appropriate Latin translation.