Being the editor of Christian Scholar’s Review is a great gig. I consider it a deep privilege to work with senior scholars who have published with us. Their wisdom and humility come through in pieces that are jargon-free and thought-provoking for other scholars and students alike. But I really love coming alongside junior faculty to bring their pieces to print. Writing integrative work—creating a dialogue between the Bible, theology, and another academic field—is just plain hard. such papers don’t work if a clear balance is missing or if an author uses one side of the scholarship in a utilitarian manner to justify some contention in the other. Authors must be knowledgeable in their own areas while demonstrating a modicum of expertise in an area in which they likely have little training. The four articles in this issue are authored by such rising scholars and are exceptional in their balance, coherence, and captivation.
Alex Sosler, assistant professor of Bible and ministry at Montreat College, starts us off by examining the erotic desire found in Marilynne Robinson’s Jack.1 Using Willie James Jennings’s reflections on eros in education in After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging,2 2 and Jean-Luc Marion’s erotic reduction in The Erotic Phenomenon,3 he analyzes the relationship between the namesake of Robinson’s book and his wife, Delia, demonstrating that as Jack awakens to the meaning and purpose in his life by being loved by another, he realizes his own capability to love.
Social scientists have demonstrated for over fifty years that we tend to see whatever it is we are primed to seek out.4 In large and small ways, our biases, expectations, and yearnings direct our attention. As philosopher James K. A. Smith reminds us, we are what we love.5 Chase Mitchell, assistant professor of media & communication at East Tennessee State University, describes how the longings of the characters in the 2020 film Minari shape what they see in themselves, others, and the world around them. Mitchell develops a sacramental view of media and the concept of transposition in conversation, demonstrating that sacramentality does not rest in media products or critics’ techniques but is born of spiritual encounter.
More than thirty Christian colleges and universities have camps and camping ministries. These are places of profound transformation for campers and leadership development opportunities for staff. Yet Christian camping in the United states primarily caters to white campers, even as some use cultural elements of the indigenous peoples from their surrounding communities. Muhia Karianjahi, assistant professor of outdoor and adventure leadership at Wheaton College and global initiatives manager at Wheaton’s HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development, proposes the practice of lament, as prescribed by theologians Emanuel Katongole and Chris Rice6, to tackle racial and cultural disparities. By unlearning the alienating tendencies of speed, distance, and innocence camps and other Christian organizations can replace these inclinations with the reconciliatory practices of pilgrimage, relocation, and public confession.
Being made in the image of the triune God, there is something deeply faithful when we collaborate with brothers and sisters in Christ. But this aspiration may not seem so heaven-sent when coauthors bring their differing epistemic approaches to bear on a joint project. In our Perspectives piece, Seattle Pacific University’s Katherine Douglass, associate professor of educational ministry and practical theology, and Brittany Tausen, associate professor of psychology and director of undergraduate psychology research, write about their experience collaborating on a project investigating how student interactions with people experiencing homelessness might meaningfully reduce depersonalization. They pull back the curtain on how they came to a shared view of their outcomes when bringing their different disciplinary lenses to the results.
There is no denying that the magisterium of the Reformed tradition has created deep roots in today’s Christian higher education. However, those of us with a broader concern for pietistic sensibilities can often feel like a far-off relative from Dubuque, well-loved but not entirely understood nor part of the family’s inner circle. In their book, The Holy Spirit and Higher Education: Renewing the Christian University, well-known scholars and Pentecostals, Amos Yong (Fuller Theological seminary) and Dale M. Coulter (Pentecostal Theological seminary), make the case for a greater reliance on the work of the Holy spirit in Christian higher education to create an educational experience that is both “Christ-patterned and spirit-infused” (7). In our review and response section, Timothy Larsen, McManis Professor of Christian Thought and Professor of History at Wheaton College and unabashed Pentecostal, reviews the book in his essay “The Idea of a spirit-Infused College.” While Larsen agrees with many of their arguments, he nevertheless calls them out for what he reads as a strong critique of Mark Noll’s dismissal of Pentecostal scholarship as well as their lack of current examples and future practices that might be necessary for Pentecostalism to have more significant impact.
Coulter and Yong respond by noting the aspirational nature of their book, hoping it will lead institutions to think more deeply about “an educational journey centered upon moral formation, encounters with transcendence, and engagement in mission.” They note that their criticism of Noll centered on his critique of Pentecostals in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and not his broader body of work. Nevertheless, they are concerned that an overemphasis on “worldview” can detract from the formation of habits and cultivation of the fruits of the spirit. In his final response, Larsen affirms their points of connection and contention while remaining concerned that the book will not give busy administrators enough of a way forward.
In the first of our two review essays, T. M. Moore, principal of the Fellowship of Ailbe, asks, “Can Worldview Ever Again Matter?” Moore does not argue against an emphasis on worldview; actually, quite the opposite. He argues that worldview is so important that we need to push it beyond academia to “discover more effective ways of bringing the message of Christian worldview to believers whose mission fields consist of their daily lives.” To make this point, he reviews four books with similar agendas for readers outside academia:
Alex Sosler, Learning to Love: Christian Higher Education as Pilgrimage (Beaver Falls, PA: Falls City Press, 2023).
Steven Garber, The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020).
Justin Ariel Bailey, Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2022).
Timothy Pickavance, Knowledge for the Love of God: Why Your Heart Needs Your Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2022).
Towards the end of his essay, Moore writes that these books “do not simply repeat familiar worldview themes; they clarify, expand, and in certain ways improve them.” He commends them to faculty as guides for students to understand the concept and “to practice the disciplines that enable Christian worldview living.”
In character development, intellectual virtues often get short shrift when compared to moral virtues and the fruits of the spirit. In our second review essay, Chan Woong Shin, associate professor of political science and international affairs at Gordon College, encourages educators to pay more attention to intellectual virtues when intentionally engaging in pedagogy that is meant to rightly develop student desires. In his essay “Educating for Intellectual Virtues: What?, Why?, and How?” he reviews the following three books as the basis for his concise and helpful advice:
Nathan L. King, The Excellent Mind: Intellectual Virtues for Everyday Life (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2021).
Jason Baehr, Deep in Thought: A Practical Guide to Teaching for Intellectual Virtues (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2021).
Quentin J. Schultze, Servant Teaching: Practices for Renewing Christian Higher Education (Grand Rapids, MI: Edenridge Press, 2022).
While not spelling it out directly, Shin reminds us that moral, epistemic, intellectual, and social virtues never function alone, noting the importance of humility and forgiveness of ourselves and others when falling short in the practice of intellectual virtues.
Other reviews in this issue include:
Louis Markos, professor in English and scholar in residence at Houston Christian University reviews Jacob Shatzer’s Faithful Learning: A Vision for Theologically Integrated Education (Brentwood, TN: B & H Academic, 2023).
Harry Lee Poe, Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University reviews Don W. King’s Inkling, Historian, Soldier, and Brother: A Life of Warren Hamilton Lewis (Kent, OH: Kent state University Press, 2023).
W. Brian Shelton, professor of theology at Asbury University reviews a series of essays in God and Wonder: Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, edited by Jeffrey W. Barbeau and Emily Hunter McGowin (Eugene, OR: Wipf and stock Publishers, 2022).
I offer much gratitude to Steve Oldham for his excellent curation of this issue’s book review section.
Cite this article
- Marilynne Robinson, Jack (New York, NY: Farrar, straus, and Giroux, 2021).
- Willie James Jennings, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020).
- Jean-Luc Marion, The Erotic Phenomenon (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
- Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky, Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases (Cambridge, Uk: Cambridge University Press, 1982).
- James K. A. smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016).
- Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008).