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The academic year 2020-2021 marked the 50th anniversary of Christian Scholar’s Review (CSR), one of the leading interdisciplinary Christian academic journals. This paper examines the history of CSR, including its precursor The Gordon Review, and highlights some key leaders and important themes in the journal’s work. It also describes the journal’s ability to evolve along with Christian higher education, and its work to stay aligned with its mission. Todd P. Steen is the Granger Professor of Economics at Hope College and serves as the managing editor of Christian Scholar’s Review; he has worked with CSR since 1992. Grace Stevenson, from Downers Grove, Illinois, is a ministry major at Hope College.


The academic year 2020-2021 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Christian Scholar’s Review (CSR), one of the leading interdisciplinary Christian academic journals. It was born in 1970 out of an earlier academic journal, The Gordon Review, which was created by Gordon College faculty and came in time to be sponsored by that college. Today, around forty Christian colleges and universities serve as sponsoring institutions for CSR. Over these past fifty years as Christian higher education has evolved in many new directions, CSR has shown a remarkable ability to survive, adapt, and grow. The journal has been a labor of love for thousands of scholars who have served as editors and reviewers or have submitted articles to the journal. It is also a wonderful example of God’s faithfulness to a project that, from the start, was designed to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over all academic endeavors. This paper examines the development of the journal over its fifty-year history, its commitment to its founding mission, and its prospects for the future in the rapidly changing world of academic publishing. In addition, it will highlight some of the key leaders in the history of the journal and consider important themes in the journal’s work.

Prologue: The Gordon Review (1955 to 1970)

Before there was the Christian Scholar’s Review, there was The Gordon Review. The first issue was published in February 1955 under Lloyd F. Dean, the journal’s first editor, and a philosopher at Gordon College. Dean and other Gordon faculty members started The Gordon Review to give their students and alumni access to a higher quality and quantity of scholarly writing, in hopes that they would continue to read challenging scholarly writing after graduating.1 Initially, The Gordon Review was not an official publication of the college, and it accepted most of its submissions from authors outside Gordon College.

The journal’s primary mission was to integrate a Christian perspective into various disciplines of academic scholarship. Dean used World War II as an example of the dangers of isolating academic disciplines, writing:

During the last world war the world was faced with the spectacle of men of science co-operating with demagogues to perpetrate the most inhuman types of brutality. When questions were later put to these men on the subject, they calmly responded that, for them, science is an end in itself – as long as the investigators and investigations of science are protected, it makes little difference to what use the results are put.2

He argued that even the evangelical Christian church has been guilty of this sort of segmented thinking, a philosophy with dangerous repercussions; however, he noted that “knowledge cannot be divided.”3

From the outset, The Gordon Review’s editors understood that Christians do not all agree on every doctrinal detail. They were prepared to accept various viewpoints. They wanted the journal’s standard to be “in the essentials of faith, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.”4 No specific faith or creed was required in order to publish in it, as long as the views expressed did not contradict the Holy Scriptures.5 Staff members and authors were responsible for their own opinions as expressed in their articles and reviews.

Early volumes show a heavy concentration of articles in the humanities, with relatively little about the natural sciences. However, in 1958, the journal published an issue recognizing the one hundred years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Over the years, other theme issues followed that featured articles focused on an ideology, author, or theologian—for example, issues on T. S. Eliot and on John Calvin.

At its inception, the faculty who founded The Gordon Review had only hesitant visions of reaching Christian scholars beyond New England. However, Dean’s first editorial expressed a hope that it might be just the beginning of a long effort on the part of many Christian institutions to encourage interdisciplinary, scholarly Christian thinking.6 After eleven years (in its tenth volume), the journal reflected this vision. Its board of editors and consulting editors consisted of scholars from across North America and Europe. It became a venue for both Catholics and Protestants to publish articles integrating faith and learning, and the journal could be found in various major American and European libraries. In an editorial in the first issue of the tenth volume, historian Arno Kolz asserted: 

The Gordon Review was founded and is published today to provide channels of communication, to stimulate interdisciplinary discussion and to help make Christianity relevant to the twentieth century…With these aims, The Gordon Review still is today, as ten years ago, the only journal of its kind, and then as now is committed to reflect both evangelical vigor and the scholar’s passion for truth.7

There was no hint then that The Gordon Review might be nearing its end—but the spring 1970 issue would be the journal’s last. The first issue of Christian Scholar’s Review was published later that year. In many ways, the story of Christian Scholar’s Review is the continuation of the work started by The Gordon Review, expanded to include additional sponsoring institutions.

The Birth of Christian Scholar’s Review: Editor George Brushaber—1970 to 1978

On a Friday evening in May 1970, the first meeting was held to begin planning the Christian Scholar’s Review. Fourteen men and one woman (Trinity Christian College Professor of English Gerda Bos), each representing a different Christian college, gathered at Wheaton College to discuss the transition from The Gordon Review to this new journal.8 The process was led by Gordon Professor of Philosophy George Brushaber, who had chaired The Gordon Review’s board of editors since 1966. On that first evening Brushaber gave a presentation on the history of The Gordon Review and discussed the rationale for transitioning to a new journal with a larger group of sponsoring colleges. Each of the sponsoring schools’ representatives had the opportunity to ask questions, and the group reviewed the initial report of the new journal’s Committee on Organization. Three study groups of five members each were appointed to work the next morning on the journal’s editorial policy, its board membership and staff organization, and its finance and business.9

The following afternoon the entire group reconvened and discussed the working groups’ reports. Several of that day’s decisions have carried through for all fifty years of the journal’s operation. The initial members decided to provide one hundred copies of the journal to each sponsoring institution, a policy which continues in the present day in the form of providing enough copies for each of an institution’s full-time faculty. Each college would be required to pay an institutional subvention of $500, a method of financing the journal still uses. The position of campus representative to the journal was formulated (which also continues to the present) with the understanding that this position would rotate, and a college could change its representative at any time at its own discretion.10The group also decided to have a separate book review editor for the journal, underlining the importance of book reviews to CSR (as a continuation of an em-phasis of The Gordon Review).

That afternoon the group discussed what to name the journal. Options included Christian Scholar’s Journal, Christian Scholar’s Quarterly, and Journal for Christian Scholars; ultimately, the decision was taken to name the new journal Christian Scholar’s Review.11 The next item on the agenda was the composition of the executive committee. Brushaber was nominated as the journal’s first editor and elected unanimously. Edward Ericson (Professor of English, Westmont College) was selected as the first book review editor, and George Marsden (Professor of History, Calvin College; Social Sciences), James Barcus (Professor of English, Houghton College; Humanities), and Edward Lindberg (Professor of History of Science, University of Wisconsin; Natural Science) were selected as associate editors. There are associate editors for the different academic areas to this day—currently, more than ten.12

The group then moved to the legal structure of the board and discussed this issue with attorney William Pollard,13 and the journal subsequently was formed as a trust in the state of Illinois.14 Opting for this legal form of organization came with substantial requirements that changed as time passed, which turned out to be a significant issue for the journal over the years. The Gordon Review officially ceased operation on September 30, 1970, and the financial books for CSR were opened the next day with around $200 of Gordon Review assets transferred to the new journal, along with liabilities of around $1000 of outstanding Gordon Review subscriptions.15

By the end of the initial weekend meeting of CSR, the subgroup on editorial policy developed a document that laid out how the journal’s editorial decisions would be handled. The Editorial Board ultimately adopted the committee’s criteria:

The Christian Scholar’s Review welcomes articles of high standards of original scholarship and of general interest dealing with all aspects of Christian thought and the interrelationship of Christian thought with all areas of scholarly interest. Normally, articles should reflect a Christian perspective. However, articles not clearly reflecting a Christian perspective, but of general interest to the Christian community or of such a character as to promote communication between Christians and non-Christians, may be included as well.16

This statement was CSR’s guide until very recently, when minor changes were made.17 The Editorial Board also adopted this Statement of Purpose18:

The Christian scholar, experiencing the redemptive love of God and welcoming the enriching perspective of divine revelation, accepts as part of his or her vocation the obligation not only to pursue an academic discipline but also to contribute toward a broader and more unified understanding of life and the world. This vocation therefore includes the obligation to communicate such an understanding to the Christian community and to the entire world of learning.

The Christian Scholar’s Review is intended as a peer-reviewed medium through which Christian scholars may cooperate in pursuing these facets of their tasks. Specifically, this publication has as its primary objective the integration of Christian faith and learning on both the intra- and interdisciplinary levels. As a secondary purpose, this journal seeks to provide a forum for the discussion of the theoretical issues of Christian higher education. The Review is intended to encourage communication and understanding both among Christian scholars, and between them and others.19

Other editorial policies the group adopted included that articles of any length would be acceptable (at the editors’ discretion), that authors would receive no payment, and a goal of devoting one-third to half of each issue to book reviews. An additional statement was formulated that “The editors of the Christian Scholar’s Review, its sponsoring institutions, and other supporters, do not necessarily endorse the contents of articles or book reviews that the journal may publish.”20 This statement remains in use today.

In a 1970 letter to The Gordon Review’s current subscribers, Brushaber announced the transition to CSR:

In order to realize the major objectives of the present publication, the Board of Editors has initiated the formation of an expanded journal to be sponsored jointly by a number of Christian colleges. With this present volume (numbered XI/5), The Gordon Review is reborn as a far more ambitious venture, while still dedicated to the founding ideals of Christian scholarship.21

In the first issue of CSR (vol. I.1) in the fall of 1970, a note introduced it as the “Successor to The Gordon Review (Vol. XII/No. 1).”22 In his editorial in the CSR’s debut issue, Brushaber made the case for the new journal:

In presenting the first issue of the CSR, the editors recognize the need to justify another scholarly periodical.

Three purposes sustain the Christian Scholar’s Review. First, as scholars who are Christians, we welcome to our areas of competence the enriching perspectives of divine revelation. Our commitment to intellectual integrity, as well as the experience of divine grace in our lives, requires that we acknowledge the significance which a Christian view of the world and of human existence has for our study. Secondly, the Christian faith can serve as a catalyst by which the fragmented fields of learning are unified into a comprehensive view of man, his world, and his God. In this case, the integration of faith and scholarship occurs on the inter-disciplinary level. Finally, the discovery and reflection of the scholar must always be shared with others and, in return, benefit from the discerning judgment of others upon it. The Christian Scholar’s Review, we believe, is an appropriate and needed vehicle by which all three of these concerns may be served.23

Brushaber’s vision for CSR provided a strong foundation for the next fifty years.

By the time of its annual meeting in May 1971, the journal was already developing rapidly, and also experiencing some growing pains. Ten colleges were invited to join the journal as sponsoring institutions. The journal had to deal with problems regarding its printing in Mexico by Inter-American Gospel Press; although that firm had been selected as a low-cost option, transportation and customs delays led to the journal taking bids for a new printer. In this early stage of the journal’s history, the editor was responsible for all aspects of operation, which proved difficult to manage. Charles (Charlie) Miller (Professor of History-Calvin College) participated in this meeting by special invitation, which began his more than twenty-five years of service to the journal; he became production and design manager that fall, and later, managing editor.24

In the annual meeting of 1972, Brushaber reported: “While there has been an adequate supply of manuscripts submitted in the fields of theology and English, there have been very few in the areas of social sciences and the behavioral sciences. The overall quality of the manuscripts has not improved.”25 Concerns about the quality and quantity of manuscripts submitted to the journal have been an ongoing concern for CSR, with such questions coming up in almost every meeting of the editorial board to this day. In this 1972 meeting, George Brushaber was authorized to appoint an assistant secretary, an assistant treasurer, an office manager and an advertising and circulation manager.26 All four positions were filled within a year.27

During the 1975 CSR annual meeting, Dr. Gordon Werkema, then president of the Christian College Consortium (now CCCU), proposed to CSR that the CCC become the legally designated and publicly recognized publisher of CSR and take over many of the responsibilities of producing and promoting the journal.28 After substantial discussion, the CSR trustees declined the proposal by Werkema and the CCC; instead, with appreciation, they invited the CCC to adopt CSR as a journal “it will endorse and promote.” CSR suggested “that we welcome and encourage cooperation between CCC and CSR, but that we do not now accept the proposal.”29 Over the next forty-five years, there were occasional informal attempts for CSR and the CCCU to collaborate, but although their missions complement each other and relations were friendly, little formal cooperation has taken place.

In his 1976 annual meeting report, Brushaber noted that “an increasing number of manuscripts are being submitted by scholars from non-member schools. On the other hand, faculty members in the sponsoring schools have not submitted manuscripts of publishable quality in a great number. More disciplines are now represented in the manuscripts submitted. There is, however, a paucity of manuscripts in the natural sciences.”30 Brushaber also noted that “the journal has reached a plateau, and that new leadership might be needed.” He expressed a willingness to step aside or continue as editor, “as the Trustees decide.” An ad hoc committee was formed to examine the future of the journal.31

In a 2020 interview, historian George Marsden (who was present at the initial meeting of CSR and served as its first social sciences editor) described Brushaber as a “very capable leader and organizer—he did most of the work.” Marsden recalled that the group followed Brushaber’s lead on almost every important decision.32 In addition to his increasing responsibilities at Bethel College in Minnesota (now Bethel University),33 to which he had moved by then from Westmont, Brushaber maintained a heavy workload managing the journal, including serving as its treasurer (one of the editor’s responsibilities in the early years). In an interview conducted in 2020, he expressed that seeing what the journal had done and what it had become provided him with a “real sense of joy.” He also noted that he “didn’t fully understand what was ahead when he stumbled into this job as a young man.”34

After years of working with both The Gordon Review and CSR, Brushaber wrote in April 1977 to the Ad Hoc Committee of CSR Organization and Future asking to be relieved of “the growing responsibilities of CSR.”35 This committee soon recommended splitting the editor’s job into two: a publisher and an editor. The business manager would report to the publisher, while the production manager, copy editors, and associate editors would report to the editor. In what was perhaps a sign of the times and CSR’s careful cost containment, the report also suggested that “the positions of copy editor might be filled by faculty wives (or husbands) on a voluntary basis.”36 The restructuring recommendations were accepted at the 1977 annual meeting. J. Edward Hakes (Trinity College [IL]—now Trinity International) was voted in as publisher, and a search committee was formed to find a new editor.37

George Brushaber attended his last annual meeting of CSR as editor in 1978. Given the organization’s new structure, publisher Ed Hakes presided at the meeting and made his first report as treasurer.38 Brushaber was the journal’s first leader, and his influence on the development of CSR was immense. During his time as editor, he moved from Gordon College to Westmont and then to Bethel, where he served as president from 1982 to 2008. After his tenure as editor of CSR ended, he also served as lead editor of Christianity Today from 1985 to 1990.

Editor Clifton J. Orlebeke—1978 to 1985

The late 1970s were a significant time of change for the journal. The person who had led the transition from The Gordon Review to Christian Scholar’s Review and had served as its only editor was ready to retire from his duties and concentrate on other tasks. Near the end of 1977, new CSR publisher J. Edward Hakes asked Clifton (Clif) Orlebeke, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, to put his name into nomination for the position of editor of CSR.39 In some ways, Orlebeke was a surprising choice; according to the journal’s records, he had not attended any earlier meetings of CSR. He had, however, published two articles and a book review in the journal.

Orlebeke was interviewed at the 1978 CSR annual meeting and approved unanimously;40 he assumed his duties as editor with CSR volume 7, issue 3, near the midpoint of his forty years at Calvin. He had received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 196341 and brought a unique perspective to the journal as a scholar of ancient philosophy and the philosophy of science, in addition to his teaching specialties in Western and Asian philosophy and artificial intelligence.

In his first report to CSR’s trustees in 1979, Orlebeke described two goals: “(1) to ‘learn the ropes’ of the job, and (2) to get the journal out.” He noted that he had to learn for himself “what kind, and how much, work goes with being the editor.”42 He suggested that the job was in some sense more than he expected, and that it became evident to him that he should request a reduction in his teaching load at Calvin to handle the position of CSR editor. He also solicited suggestions on improving both the journal and his previous year’s performance; in addition, he suggested that the editors meet more frequently if possible.

Orlebeke provided a steady hand at the wheel during a time of transition for CSR, looking to improve procedures and policies while also managing some personnel conflicts. In his 1981 report to the trustees, he mentioned some challenges of producing the journal.

I am not satisfied with the timings of numbers (issues) 2, 3, and four, but it is not easy to improve our performance because of the complexity of our production and distribution system. Every step of the operation is done by the cheapest contractor; we dash that is, Charles Miller and I dash to handle each issue in its various forms several times over correcting proofs, designing the pages, keeping things moving, etc. Four months between manuscript version and delivered copies seems to be a minimum, unless we improve the system.43

In his 1982 report, Orlebeke stated that “I do not personally resent or fear competition by other Christian scholarly journals, whether specialized or, like the CSR, multi-disciplinary. There are enough resources ‘out there’ to make possible more and better Christian scholarly writing. There are signs of increasing interest in Christian scholarship in the American evangelical community. For these signs we praise God.”44

More changes for the journal came in 1982. After a year of discussion concerning the legal requirements of the CSR trust documents, publisher Ed Pauley resigned, given that he no longer worked at a sponsoring institution for the journal. Historian Thomas A. Askew of Gordon College took his place. In his final report, Pauley noted that Orlebeke was “at once zealous in his pursuit of the highest standards of Journal content and exceedingly patient and gentle with his colleagues. The Journal has a clear-minded professional philosopher at the helm and will surely be guided in the right course by him.”45 In his report at the 1983 meeting, Orlebeke reported that the journal had received an “unprecedented number of submissions” and that “the publication schedule is on time.” At that time, Orlebeke asked to be released from the duties of CSR editor after one more year, having completed five years of service.46 Orlebeke’s tenure saw an increase in readership and support for the journal.

Editor William Hasker—1985 to 1994

In 1985, with the first issue of the fifteenth volume, William Hasker became the third editor of the Christian Scholar’s Review. Hasker, a Professor of Philosophy at Huntington College, had published several articles in the journal and had served since 1983 as its philosophy and theology editor. In a note in the first issue of CSR’s fifteenth volume, Hasker listed three main goals for the journal: “First, to maintain the high level of scholarship which has been attained under the previous editors. Second, to enhance the Review’s usefulness and its service to our various constituencies. Third, to increase the participation and sense of ‘ownership’ of the Review among our readers.”47

He also announced two new initiatives. The first was the introduction of theme issues, which commenced with the topic “Christianity and Social Justice” in the sixteenth volume of CSR and featured articles by Nicholas Wolterstorff and Stanley Hauerwas. Theme issues were to be published approximately once a year with a combination of invited and contributed papers. Second, “state-of-the-art essays” were to be published about the latest developments in a particular academic discipline. Each one was to contain practical applications for teaching in the classroom. In gathering these various essays, the hope was to create “a bibliographical resource to which students can be referred.”48 The academic, the teacher, and the pupil would all benefit. During Hasker’s tenure, the journal also created the Christian Scholar’s Award and added a “Responses” section to the journal.

During this time, Christian Scholar’s Review, like any established organization, had its critics. In the editor’s note in the first issue of the sixteenth volume, William Hasker described the feedback he and his fellow editors received as “‘Why don’t you publish…?’ syndrome” and suggested that “this syndrome typically manifests itself when the editor is taken aside by a colleague from his own or another institution, and asked ‘Why don’t you publish…?’ followed by the name of the topic or field which the inquirer finds to be conspicuously missing (or under-represented) in the Review.”49 His response was quite simple: he stated that submissions could not be published without submitted articles of a publishable caliber in that field. The only articles rejected for publication due to subject were those that had too narrow or specialized a focus for the journal’s interdisciplinary readership. What followed in his response were suggestions for various subject areas of articles from which the CSR would like to see more submissions.

Rich conversations about the journal took place during annual board meetings during Hasker’s tenure. An important topic discussed was the need to create a more ecumenical space in which the journal could exist. At the 1991 annual meeting, the CSR board discussed whether CSR was heading in an exclusively Calvinist direction, and whether it should move toward including institutions affiliated with Wesleyans and Pentecostals.50 At that meeting, Rex Rogers of The King’s College reported that on his campus CSR had gained a reputation as a “philosopher’s paradise” rather than a broad interdisciplinary journal. This issue can be seen repeatedly throughout the history of the Christian Scholar’s Review as the journal faced challenges to get a diverse set of article submissions.

When he retired as editor in 1994, Hasker expressed gratitude for his tenure at the Christian Scholar’s Review and the people who walked alongside him, and for the work of the editors before him. The importance of Christian scholarship and educational institutions was not lost on him. In fact, CSR proved to him just how valuable this field of academia could be: “I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ cannot flourish or have the influence it ought to have in today’s society without strong educational institutions and strong, integrative Christian scholarship.”51 After completing his service as editor of CSR, Hasker edited the journal Faith and Philosophy from 2000 to 2007.

Editor Roger Olson—1994 to 1999

In 1994, Roger Olson replaced Hasker as editor of CSR. At the time, Olson was a Professor of Theology at Bethel College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In Hasker’s closing comments as editor of the Christian Scholar’s Review, he described Olson as a constant presence and beneficial participant in editorial board meetings and as a visionary for the role of the CSR in its service to Christian scholars and the broader Christian church. According to Hasker, Roger Olson held high standards for scholarship and possessed a “broad perspective on Christian scholarship and Christian higher education.”52 Olson is a well-known theologian who has published widely; shortly before he became editor of CSR, he and Stanley Grenz published 20th Century Theology: God and the World in a Transitional Age, which Christianity Today honored as the best book in theology/biblical studies of 1993.53

In his opening greetings as the new editor of the Christian Scholar’s Review, Olson wrote:

My motto is borrowed from the Christian philosopher Elton Trueblood: “It is the vocation of the Christian in every generation to outthink all opposition.” I would only add that it is also our vocation to outthink ourselves! God always has new light to break forth from his two books–-his Words of Scripture and Nature. Let us use CSR as an instrument of the new light by which we can outthink to the glory of God for humanity’s sake.54

This simple concept became Olson’s driving force as the head of the journal’s staff.

Olson was an active editor and leader. More than any other editor of CSR, he communicated directly with readers, publishing several detailed notes from the editor in various issues. They gave insights into the journal’s editorial policies and described in detail the activity of the editorial board at its annual meetings. Olson also began publishing the tables of contents and summaries of articles from CSR issues on the Internet via a listserv forum at Baylor University. In the annual board meeting notes from 1999, Olson reported that he had never seen the quality of submissions be so high.55 He initiated a new section for the journal titled “Reflections and Responses” as “a forum for expressions of informed opinion about matters relevant to Christian scholarship,”56 and he supervised the production of theme or special issues on the topics of multiculturalism, homosexuality, postmodernism, and faculty salaries.

After his first year as editor, Roger Olson published a reflection on the history of the Christian Scholar’s Review for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the journal. He looked back at the beginning of the journal as paired with his first years in college, recounting his first encounter with the review:

I first discovered CSR while browsing through the library during my first few weeks of seminary. For some reason, I kept coming back again and again to that journal. I felt a “kindred spirit” with it – or, that is, with the editorial policy of publishing, timely, progressive, evangelically-oriented articles and book reviews…As a young seminarian struggling to find my niche in evangelicalism, this journal both comforted and challenged me.57

At the end of his tenure, Olson called serving as editor of CSR was “one of the great honors of my life,” while also conceding that “serving in this capacity has been a joy as well as a burden at times.”58 As he ended his five years of service with CSR, Olson moved to Baylor University, where he still serves as the Foy Valentine Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Editor Don W. King—1999 to 2015

In the summer of 1999, with the fourth issue of Volume 28, Don W. King became editor of the journal. King, a professor of English at Montreat College, is one of the world’s leading scholars of C. S. Lewis and was then serving as Montreat’s Vice President and Dean of Academics.59 Just a year before he started in this position, he had edited a theme issue of the journal, a retrospective marking Lewis’s centenary.60

King served as editor of CSR for a total of sixteen years, nearly twice as long as any previous editor. In his initial “Notes from the Editor” to CSR readers in the fall of 1999, he recounted how he felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to consider the editor role at CSR when no one had emerged to fill the vacancy left by Olson’s departure. One of the first things he did as the new editor was to review the contents of every previous issue, which he said was “both exciting and overwhelming. In particular, I was impressed by the initial quality of CSR and by how the level of Christian scholarship has continued to strengthen over the intervening years.” King pledged “to do all I can to make CSR continue as the best possible venue for quality Christian scholarship.”61

Congenial and winsome, King was a tireless promoter of the journal and often brought boxes of copies of CSR to distribute at conferences he attended. In 2000, he described his one major goal for the coming year: “to publicize CSR in as many new ways as possible with the overall objective of soliciting more quality manuscripts.”62 One year later, he reported that he

attended three significant professional conferences in order to bring greater exposure to the journal and to contact potential contributors….At each of these venues, as well as at several smaller professional gatherings, I promoted CSR via formal and informal discussions, distributed complimentary copies of the journal, and invited a number of the presenters to consider submitting manuscripts for our editorial review process.63

In addition to promoting the journal well, King was a gifted administrator who managed the editorial process with aplomb. When he began as editor, King was given the mandate “to reduce the time between the acceptance of a manuscript and its eventual publication from its current twenty-four months to twelve months.”64 By the end of his tenure, the acceptance-to-publication timeframe had been reduced to six to nine months. He worked with many associate editors over the years and administered and coordinated over a dozen theme and special issues, working with a variety of scholars from outside the organization. King’s reports to the CSR board and CSR readers were low on pronouncements and high on statistics of submissions and thanks for the work of others involved in the journal. He often signed off his reports with the statement, “I have enjoyed this past year and look forward to [the coming year].”65

King’s sixteen-year tenure as editor was a very stable time for the journal. For the entire time, David Hoekema was publisher and Todd Steen served as managing editor; the leadership team worked well together. In 2014, King announced his intention to retire as editor of the journal. In a published note to readers, he wrote:

My hope when assuming the duties of general editor was that I could help to sustain and grow the Christian Scholar’s Review as the leading journal of interdisciplinary Christian scholarship. Thanks to the efforts of those mentioned above, I believe we have fulfilled that hope beyond what I imagined….During my time as editor I have shied away from offering many editorial comments; however, in the last three issues, in which I conclude my service as editor, I plan to offer three short reflections.66

In these essays, King published his thoughts on Christian scholarship to inspire and encourage those following in his footsteps. King’s third and final reflection, “A Dream,” describes a dream of his in which a college president, provost, and two deans discuss the financial burdens of university libraries and promoting Christian scholarship in a renowned London pub, the Lamb and Flag.67 As we are brought out of this dream, Don King’s last reflection leaves us with a profound opportunity to think about how Christian academics and institutions are entrusted with the nurturing of new scholars.

To commemorate King’s influence on CSR, the journal published a special issue in his honor in 2016 prepared by guest editors Mark P. Bruce and Marion H. Larson.68 In their introduction to the issue, they described King’s work as exemplifying “such a neighborly attitude toward other scholars and other texts, treating each submitted manuscript and its author not only with respect, but also with a full openness to what he might learn, even—or especially—from those with whom he might disagree.”69 Since stepping down as editor, King has continued to be involved with the journal, publishing a review essay in a 2016 issue and serving as Montreat College’s campus representative.70

Editor Mark Bowald—2015 to 2020

Mark Bowald took over as the sixth editor of Christian Scholar’s Review in 2015. Given Don King’s long tenure as editor, there were big shoes to fill. However, Bowald came well prepared. He had earlier completed a successful seven-year stint as theology editor of CSR, which historically is the busiest associate editor position. At that time, Bowald was Professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer University (Ontario), and that institution had been supportive of his work and of his promotion to editor. However, soon after becoming the editor of CSR, he learned that his position at Redeemer would be discontinued due to some severe financial hardships that the institution was undergoing. Bowald’s five years as editor proved to be a time of transition both for the journal and for Bowald in his personal vocational life.

After his time at Redeemer concluded in 2016, Bowald continued to serve the journal well while searching for another academic position. He worked in various other fields, including serving in ministry for an Anglican congregation and working as a television producer. This was no doubt a difficult time as he tried to balance a variety of commitments, yet during his time as editor Bowald worked very well with CSR’s associate editors and molded them into a cohesive team. In 2019, prayers were answered, and Bowald obtained a new academic position as Professor of Theology at Grace College and Seminary (Winona Lake, Indiana), his undergraduate alma mater—bringing him back into academia and back to the United States. This new position proved to be a real blessing for Bowald and his family and provided many new opportunities for him to engage in scholarship.

During Bowald’s tenure as editor, the publishing world and environment for journals were changing rapidly. Many journals were being published partially or exclusively online; some others were fading in influence or disappearing. Bowald was a vital part of the discussion of how CSR should cope with this changing landscape and define its digital presence. In the preface to the first issue of the fiftieth volume of CSR in the fall of 2020, Bowald noted: “Quietly, the journal has uniquely served several generations of Christian teachers and scholars in honing their craft. This alone is sufficient a mandate for the continuing value for CSR. Furthermore, the events of 2020 underscore, deeply so, the perennial need for such a venue and platform for deep Christian reasoning together.”71

In a tribute to Bowald’s service as editor written by longtime CSR publisher David Hoekema in 2020, Hoekema noted that Bowald had “showed himself to be a resourceful and imaginative editor. He was able to discern the potential in submissions that were far from publishable in their present form, yet offered a distinct perspective on an important topic.” Hoekema also praised Bowald for his eager willingness to “listen to the voices, and consider publishing the writings, of faculty members at mainline and evangelical colleges, from Catholic and Protestant viewpoints, from what would conventionally be labeled conservative and progressive standpoints.”72 After five years of service as editor, and a total of twelve years of service to the journal, Bowald retired from the editor position of CSR in 2020. Given some of the changes that were happening within CSR and the world of publishing, it took two people to replace him.

Editors Perry Glanzer and Margaret Diddams—2020 to present

In 2019, CSR editor Mark Bowald had announced his intention to retire from this position. At that time, a search for a new editor for the journal was initiated by the new publisher of CSR, Todd Ream. During the search, the organization decided to split the editor role into two parts. A new editor-in-chief would con-centrate on the digital presence of the journal, while the new editor would lead the more traditional print operations and presence of CSR. In the spring of 2020, Perry Glanzer was appointed as CSR’s first editor-in-chief.73 Glanzer, a professor of higher education at Baylor University and a prolific scholar in this area, had previously served the journal for seven years as part of the book review editor team with Ream. He also led the strategic planning process for CSR in 2015 and 2016. Glanzer currently leads and edits the blog content at CSR, which has evolved into a daily offering.

In the summer of 2020, Margaret Diddams was appointed the new editor of CSR, succeeding Bowald. She had just retired from her position as Provost of Wheaton College.74 Diddams, an industrial/organizational psychologist who had earlier served as an Assistant Provost at Seattle Pacific University and having previously published two articles in CSR, saw this opportunity to work with the journal as the next avenue of service in her academic vocation, and the journal welcomed the opportunity to have an editor with relatively more freedom of time given the occasion of her retirement. The appointment of Diddams also marked the first female editor of CSR over its fifty-year history. Although the history of CSR can often read like a history of male scholars, at the time of Diddams’ appointment, around half of the associate editors were female.

The Work of the Journal—Service in Christian Scholarship

Authors, Topics, and Theme and Special Issues

Many leading Christian scholars have published in Christian Scholar’s Review over the years, and the list of authors and subjects reflects the state of Christian higher education throughout the journal’s five decades of existence. The journal’s first issue included an article by Leland Ryken, and the second issue had articles by George Marsden and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Other CSR authors over the years include Stanley Hauerwas, Carl F. H. Henry, Arthur Holmes, Susan VanZanten, Os Guinness, Richard Mouw, Nancey Murphy, Mark Noll, Jenell Williams Paris, Alvin Plantinga, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, and Amos Yong. Many authors published multiple articles in the journal. Mirroring patterns in Christian higher education over the last half-century, most of the authors were men. However, this trend is changing; for example, CSR 50.3 (Spring 2021) includes articles by three female scholars, and as noted above, a woman now edits the print journal.

Christian Scholar’s Review has covered a broad range of topics in its articles over its five decades—for instance, “U2 and Igor Stravinsky: Textures, Timbres, and the Devil,” “Rehabilitating Willow Creek: Megachurches, De Certeau, and the Tactics of Navigating Consumer Culture,” “Jesus the Logician” and “Does Math-ematical Beauty Pose Problems for Naturalism?” Articles on racism, inclusion, and diversity have also been a frequent part of CSR issues, going all the way back to the first issue and Stuart Barton Babbage’s article “A Question of Color”75 and the third issue in which African-American author and CSR editorial board member James Earl Massey wrote on “Christian Theology and Social Experience of Being Black.”76 Although topics in the sciences historically have been underrepresented in the journal, the issue of creation and evolution has been a significant exception.

Beginning in 1987 [Volume 16, Issue 3], the journal also started publishing theme issues and special issues devoted to a particular topic. Many were titled “Christianity and” a particular topic, with issues examining social justice, feminism, Marxism, multiculturalism, and homosexuality. Other theme issues examined topics such as “Dialogue Between Muslims and Christians,” “The Future of Values in a Post-Naturalism World,” “The Nuclear Age at 70,” “The State of the Evangelical Mind,” and “Play.”77 Several explored aspects of Christian higher education, including “E-Learning and Christian Higher Education,” “Christian Higher Education as Character Formation,” and “The Global Face of Christian Higher Education.”78 Outside of Christian higher education, C. S. Lewis was perhaps the favorite topic for Christian Scholar’s Review authors; more than two dozen articles on him have appeared, plus two special issues, “C. S. Lewis and Gender” and “C. S. Lewis: A Centenary Perspective.”79 The wide range of scholarship in these issues made the most of CSR’s orientation as an interdisciplinary journal.

Book Reviews and Beyond

As was noted earlier, from the very beginning, book reviews have consistently been an important feature of Christian Scholar’s Review. CSR had a designated book review editor right from the start, and the editorial policy approved at the journal’s first annual meeting set a goal of having book reviews constitute between one-third and one-half of the journal’s content.80 For many years, CSR board members and trustees noted that people started reading each quarterly issue of CSR by looking at the book reviews—which meant they read CSR starting at the back of the issue (where the reviews were located)! The list of authors who have published book reviews in CSR looks like a who’s who of Christian higher education.

In the journal’s early years, book reviews were generally short, sometimes a page or so long. In the first year’s four issues, a total of more than one hundred were published. Over time, book reviews have tended to be longer, and came to include book review essays and extended reviews which covered multiple books and extended to ten pages or more. The journal also added reviews which included discussions between an author and a reviewer. Christian Scholar’s Review has been blessed by a cadre of excellent book review editors over its history, and many of them added innovations to the book review process.

Financial Model

Since its inception, Christian Scholar’s Review’s financial model has been predicated on support from its sponsoring institutions. There were fifteen at the start; there now are around forty. Each institution pays an annual subvention to support the journal. Initially, it was set at $500.81 Later the amount was differentiated by institutional size. As of 2021, the level of institutional subvention payments is as follows: $525 for supporting institutions with an enrollment of 500 or fewer students; $625 for institutions with enrollment of 501 to 1000; $850 for enrollment of 1001 to 2000; $975 for enrollment of 2001 to 3000; and $1100 for enrollment over 3000.82 The journal has also depended on three other revenue sources: library subscription payments, payments for personal subscriptions (which are charged at a lower rate),83 and advertising revenue. Library subscriptions provided a good secondary source of revenue for the journal, even though CSR’s library subscription rate was typically well below other that of other journals.

Throughout its history, the journal has regularly maintained a balanced budget and has developed some substantial cash reserves. Some employees were paid in its first ten years, but since then the editorial board and reviewers have done almost all of the work. Managing editors Charlie Miller and Todd Steen have both maintained a strong focus on cost containment, which has allowed institutional subvention rates to increase more slowly than the rate of inflation. Former editor William Hasker may have summed up the results of the financial model of CSR the best: “If we are committed to the cause of Christian scholarship, and wish to promote it both on our own campuses and in the broad scholarly community, then I sincerely believe there are few if any places where a college can accomplish as much for as little money as it takes to be a sponsoring institution of the CSR.”84 

The journal’s financial model has led to substantial stability. However, as CSR celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, it faces some new financial challenges. These are difficult times for many Christian institutions of higher learning, and their ability to pay subventions to support the journal financially in the future is in question. At the same time, college and university libraries’ paid subscriptions to CSR are diminishing as libraries face financial constraints and move to other methods of receiving content. Although CSR delivers content online through organizations such as Gale and Ebsco, they do not generally provide the journal with a large amount of financial support. In addition, with the proliferation of free and easily accessed material on the Internet, individuals are less likely to purchase print subscriptions, and advertisers may be less likely to purchase advertisements in print journals.

Given these challenges, CSR is in active discussion about developing a new financial model. The journal has never benefited to any substantial degree from foundation grants or charitable gifts, and these are a potential source of revenue for the future. The new website and blog also provide an opportunity for online advertising. The journal’s favorable cash balance position gives the organization some time to make this transition, but some form of transition will certainly need to be made.

Digital Presence of the Journal

Christian Scholar’s Review created its first web page in 1996, which was hosted by Hope College. It was created in a basic HTML text format by managing editor Todd Steen and Hope College computer science major Kevin Watson. It had a relatively Spartan design but was packed with information. For twenty years it remained relatively unchanged, but over time it became clear that the journal needed a much-enhanced digital presence. In 2016, CSR contracted with Tim Dalrymple of Polymath Innovations to develop a more modern website for CSR’s future operations and outreach. In 2017, Dalrymple (who two years later became president and CEO of Christianity Today) attended the CSR annual meeting and began developing the new web page. With his help, CSR obtained the URL to serve as its new digital identity, replacing its earlier URL,

In 2018, Todd Steen and publisher David Hoekema began discussions with John Hwang, the founder and CEO of Public Platform, to reconceive the journal’s digital presence. Hwang has a strong passion for promoting Christian scholarship, and he completed the design of the new CSR website, adding many enhancements. His design has been very well received by the CSR subscriber base and the Christian higher education community. Hwang often told the CSR team that Christian scholarship did not have a content problem, but a “distribution problem,” and he was keen to help solve it. Hwang has also worked with CSR editor-in-chief Perry Glanzer to lead the development of the new CSR blog and has met with the CSR leadership team as an unofficial member, which has led to additional developments including working with Margaret Diddams to launch an online portal for manuscript submissions and editorial management. In 2020, the journal hosted its first online event, a symposium titled “The Academic Vocation in a Post-2020 World: An Ecumenical Dialogue.”85 This type of event is part of the journal’s future digital strategy to increase the journal’s reach and reputation.

The Life of the Journal—Fellowship in Service

CSR Annual Meetings

For most of its history, CSR has held its annual meetings in or near Chicago. In the journal’s early years, meetings were held on the Wheaton College campus, and then at O’Hare Airport hotels or the airport conference room. More recently, they have alternated between downtown Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The meetings were generally characterized by a very positive atmosphere, a spirit of strong Christian fellowship, and a climate of good humor. CSR has always been a relatively decentralized organization, and this was typically the only time that the individuals associated with the journal met over the course of the year. Meetings were typically held on a Saturday in April, with the previous Friday night reserved for a dinner of the editorial staff and other guests. These dinners were convivial affairs that often lasted for several hours, and they helped develop the community of the group.

Representatives of the sponsoring institutions attended annual meetings along with the journal’s editors and officers, and many relationships were forged over the years. The opportunity to spend a weekend in Chicago was often a draw for campus representatives, although weekends in Grand Rapids were perhaps not quite as appealing. Some campus representatives participated for decades, while others came once in a while or just once. Editors and campus representatives often attended a concert, sporting event, art exhibit or church service together during the annual meeting weekend, or played a round of golf. Some years the annual meeting was held in conjunction with a conference, such as the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin, and on a few occasions the annual meeting included speakers, or a workshop sponsored by CSR.

Perhaps not surprisingly, topics of discussion seemed to be repeated year after year. There was typically discussion of rates of acceptance of papers and the volume and disciplinary distribution of submissions. There were also yearly discussions about how to grow the journal and some handwringing about the fact that it could not attract more sponsoring institutions. For many years, there was discussion about whether to approach and include Lutheran or Catholic institutions or perhaps even seminaries. The role of campus representatives was another important topic, with discussions of how they could raise the journal’s profile at their institutions. There was also ongoing discussion of how the journal could obtain more submissions in the natural sciences and other fields outside the humanities. Business at the annual meetings included selection of new editors, associate editors, and other officers. Although financial matters were discussed annually, they were not generally a point of controversy.

With the arrival of new CSR publisher Todd Ream in 2020, there came the intention to hold annual meetings in conjunction with ongoing annual conferences at Baylor or the University of Notre Dame. The COVID pandemic caused the 2020 meeting to be moved online, the first year since the journal’s inception that the group did not meet face-to-face.

Fortieth Anniversary Celebration

Christian Scholar’s Review’s fortieth anniversary was celebrated in 2011 with a dinner at the InterContinental Hotel Chicago-O’Hare. The event included a panel discussion on the history of the journal and its influence on Christian scholarship, moderated by John Wilson (editor of Books & Culture); panelists included historians George Marsden and Mark Noll.86 This joyous occasion celebrated God’s faithfulness to the journal and attracted a wide-ranging audience of over fifty people.

At the event, CSR publisher David Hoekema spoke about the importance of the journal:

Scholarly journals like Christian Scholar’s Review may seem to operate at several removes from the daily life of church members and students, but I believe they make an indispensable contribution to the nurturance of an atmosphere of critical and open inquiry, wide-ranging curiosity, and steadfast dedication to the Gospel that characterizes all of our campuses—at least on our best days.87

On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the journal, editor Don King reflected on his first exposure to CSR: “The interdisciplinary nature of CSR attracted me then, and it continues to do so today. I enjoy the give and take of academic debate, and I am very thankful to my CSR colleagues in other disciplines who have helped me think more deeply from a biblically informed perspective about economics, philosophy, psychology, biology, history, anthropology, theology, art, literature, mathematics, and so on.”88

CSR associate publisher Jerry Pattengale (Indiana Wesleyan University) helped organize and obtain funding for the event. As it ended, Todd Steen called Pattengale’s attention to a street sign outside the ballroom window: the conference was taking place at the intersection of Wesley Terrace and Technology Boulevard. The sign delighted Pattengale, as it reflected two of his passions and part of his vision for the journal’s future. In conjunction with the fortieth anniversary, the journal also published a volume of some of the best articles in CSR over the previous forty years. The book was titled Taking Every Thought Captive: Forty Years of the Christian Scholar’s Review (Abilene Christian University Press, 2011) and was edited by Don King, Perry Glanzer, David Hoekema, Jerry Pattengale, Todd Ream, and Todd Steen.89

Service to Christian Scholars

A hallmark of Christian Scholar’s Review over the last half century has been its commitment to serve Christian scholars and develop Christian scholarship. This has been manifested in a variety of ways. The journal has always been strongly committed to the article review process, with reviewers giving substantial, kind, firm feedback to authors of potential articles, and the editor and associate editors encouraging authors and helping them to develop their scholarship. As noted in the guidelines to reviewers on the CSR webpage,

Our mission at CSR is both to produce a high-quality academic interdisciplinary journal and also, quite self-consciously, to assist those who submit articles for consideration in the development of their research and writing. We welcome frank and constructive comments and suggestions with both of these goals in mind.90

These guidelines reflect the fact that scholarship from a Christian perspective is outside the comfort zone of many of the writers: “As a gentle reminder, many authors are submitting their first work of Christ-animated scholarship. When providing negative feedback, please frame your comments and feedback in ways that can help authors understand and accept the feedback in a way that can strengthen further scholarship in the area.”91

At the fortieth anniversary celebration of the journal, publisher David Hoekema described the salutary effects of this process:

As a result of its long record of rigorously selected and carefully edited articles and reviews, CSR is now indexed in leading bibliographical databases, and its articles are frequently cited in scholarly monographs and peer-reviewed journals in a wide range of fields. But there is another side of the editors’ contribution to Christian scholarship that is not visible in the printed journal: in writing comments for authors whose work is not yet at the level that warrants publication, the editors have taken special care to offer constructive criticism and guidance, particularly to authors in early stages of their careers who do not yet have a substantial record of scholarly publications. Some of the rejected articles undergo revision and eventually appear in our pages; others never reach that point. But the pain of rejection is always tempered by a spirit of collegiality and encouragement.92

Christian Scholar’s Review and its leaders have also served and encouraged Christian scholars in other ways. In 2001, Hoekema and then-editor Don King traveled to Kenya to conduct a workshop with faculty at Daystar University.93 In 2006, Todd Steen and Don King presented a workshop on publishing at the CCCU conference in Dallas, and Hoekema, King, and Steen visited Indiana Wesleyan University to work with IWU faculty on developing Christian perspectives in academic scholarship.94 The CSR website also provides a variety of resources valuable to Christian scholars.

Managing Editors and Publishers

Christian Scholar’s Review has been blessed with the number of individuals who have worked with the journal over an extended period of time in a managing editor or publisher role. Their service to CSR often overlapped the tenure of more than one editor of the journal.

Charles J. Miller—1971 to 1997

Charles J. (Charlie) Miller played a crucial role in the journal’s development from almost the very beginning until the time of his death in 1997. The Calvin College historian initially handled the journal’s production and then took on its financial management, serving officially as managing editor from 1983 to 1994. He was known for his keen attention to detail, his deep love for the journal, and an occasionally sarcastic sense of humor. Miller was responsible for much of the format and design of the print journal that persists to the current day.

In a letter in 1978, CSR’s then-publisher J. Edward Hakes thanked Miller for all he did to make a meeting of trustees run smoothly: “Your sage comments from time to time were quite helpful. Your roles as an ‘elder statesman’ and now as Calvin’s official representative have meant much to the Review’s success. I will continue to lean heavily upon you.”95 Miller would continue to play the role of elder statesman for almost twenty more years. In a note from CSR editor Don King in issue 27:1 in 1997, King noted that Miller has “served CSR faithfully and often passionately throughout much of its quarter of a century existence before his death.”96 At that time, the Christian Scholar’s Award given by the journal was renamed in his honor, and Miller’s family endowed the financial portion of the award.

Todd Steen—1992 to Present

Todd Steen first became involved with CSR in 1992, stepping into service to help Charlie Miller with the managing editor’s tasks as Miller’s health began to decline. Steen officially became managing editor in 1994, a role he continues to hold. Steen’s father, Peter Steen, had also been involved in promoting Christian scholarship, so in some sense, he saw this opportunity to work with CSR as an opportunity to continue in the “family business.” Steen, a Professor of Economics at Hope College, brought the organization into the computer age and, as mentioned earlier, is known for careful stewardship of the journal’s financial resources. During his tenure, the journal has had consistent financial stability. In his final note from the editor, Mark Bowald wrote that “Todd Steen is a shining exemplar and credit to the efficiency and persistence of which our shared Frisian heritage is renowned. I literally cannot imagine the business and printing production side of CSR being managed any better.”97 Steen has always been keenly interested in the journal’s history, and for the last 29 years has kept its archives in an increasingly crowded storeroom adjacent to his office.

David Hoekema—1997 to 2019

David Hoekema became the publisher of CSR in 1997, succeeding Rebecca Burch Basinger. Hoekema, a Professor of Philosophy and Dean at Calvin College, had earlier served as the executive director of the American Philosophical Association and was well able to articulate the importance of Christian scholarship to the academy and the world. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, he wrote: “Excellent scholarship cannot dispel the specters of war and terrorism, but it can help us and our colleagues as we seek to raise up a generation of new leaders in church and society who will direct the light of the Gospel to dispel the darkness of violence and hatred.”98

Hoekema presided over a time of substantial stability for the journal. During his tenure, he brought on many new sponsoring institutions and promoted the journal to new audiences. In 2003, he finished the process of legal reorganization of the journal from a trust structure to a nonprofit, solving once and for all the legal issues associated with operating as a trust. Hoekema also promoted an atmosphere of fellowship and hospitality at the over twenty CSR annual meetings at which he presided. When annual meetings were held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hoekema often hosted gatherings at his home for the group of CSR representatives and editors. Hoekema was also known for organizing the editors’ traditional fellowship meal, which took place the night before the annual meeting; he took great care in finding the best restaurant available for the group.

In his final note from the editor, Mark Bowald wrote that

David Hoekema is that rare combination of exceptional scholar, competent administrator, and consummate statesman. David’s winsome yet persistent voice was centrally at work in the recruitment of editors and maintaining institutional support. David could convince a bird to contribute its feathers.99

Upon his retirement in 2019, Hoekema was replaced by Todd Ream of Taylor University, a scholar of higher education and a former book review editor for CSR.

Prospects for the Future

In many ways, this fiftieth anniversary of Christian Scholar’s Review finds the journal at a crossroads. Publishing is changing rapidly, and Christian higher education faces new challenges—some that have never been imagined. The journal has begun to adapt in many ways, particularly on the digital side, but it will also have to adapt as an organization. For fifty years the journal has been very decentralized, and whether that model will work in the future is an open question. Another major challenge is its financial future. The model that depends largely on library subscriptions and support from Christian institutions of higher education seems unlikely to carry it into the future.

The journal also needs to clarify how it will stand out among the growing number of alternatives that compete for the attention of Christian academics. While continuing to be committed to well-written, engaging, and interdisciplinary articles, the low number of submitted manuscripts continues to be problematic. While CSR was founded as a venue for exemplary scholarship, there may be some irony that as Christian colleges and universities raise their scholarship expectations, faculty are rewarded more heavily in tenure and promotion for publishing in their guild’s journals rather than undertaking Christ-animated interdisciplinary work.

Also in play are questions about the future viability of print journals—whether they can exist alongside digital versions. CSR has already made a commend-able start in the world of digital publishing with its daily blog and its enhanced website. The leadership team has considered many other ways to enhance CSR’s presence, such as podcasts, interviews with authors, seminars, symposiums, lists of resources, and perhaps even online classes. Another challenge will be to find willing and able participants to share in the work as it moves forward. More than ever, many factors compete for the time of Christian professors. In some ways, the challenges ahead seem greater than the challenges of the past, but the story of the journal is one of God’s continuing faithfulness.


By God’s grace, Christian Scholar’s Review is ready to move into its second half-century. The journal has served and will continue to serve a unique role in the Christian academic community. It has been an exceptional collaborative effort among institutions of Christian higher education, and reflects the work of thousands of authors, editors, and reviewers. It is a unique vehicle for Christian scholars, a place where scholarship from a variety of disciplines is presented in an accessible fashion. It is also a place of community with long-standing terms of service and substantial times of fellowship.

In the journal’s first issue back in 1970, editor George Brushaber expressed his hope that the Christian Scholar’s Review would “open avenues of fruitful discussion and discovery among Christians of all persuasions and among scholars who confess the faith of Christ and those who do not. The Christian Scholar’s Review is offered as a servant to all who love the truth, who seek after it, and who obey the truth when they find it.”100

One could easily debate whether the journal has reached its full potential as imagined by its founders. It has served very ably as an academic journal, but perhaps less so as a changer of academic culture. The journal’s activities in its 50th year are in many ways remarkably similar to what it did in its first. Over the next decades of its history, it will be interesting to see whether CSR can increase its impact on Christian higher education and the Christian community more broadly.

In his reflection as he retired as editor in 2020, Mark Bowald may have summed up best the sentiments of those who have worked with the journal over the years:

It has been a humbling privilege to work with all the variety of Christian scholars who labored as co-editors with the journal over these years. Our work together has been marked by a consistent generosity and willingness. It has been an honor to work with you all. It is my earnest and optimistic hope and prayer that CSR continues to pursue its necessary and unique mission with intention and aplomb. The coming generations of Christian scholars will require the same space, the same voices, the same guidance, examples and advice, in the faith-full pursuit of those most fundamental, and most human of vocations: scholarship, education, teaching.101

Throughout CSR’s history, we can see God’s faithfulness manifested in a variety of ways. As publishing changes rapidly, the journal is expanding its reach in a variety of ways and taking on new challenges. We look forward to seeing what happens next.102

Cite this article
Todd Steen and Grace Stevenson, “Fifty Years On: The History of the Christian Scholar’s Review”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 51:1 , 7-32


  1. Lloyd L. Dean, “Editorial: A New Journal,” The Gordon Review 1.1 (1955): 3-6.
  2. Ibid.,
  3. Ibid.,
  4. Ibid., 3.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Lloyd. L. Dean, “Editorial: A New Journal,” The Gordon Review 1.1 (1955): 5.
  7. Arno Kolz, “Editorial,” The Gordon Review 10.1 (1966): 3-4.
  8. The initial sponsoring institutions of CSR were Anderson College, Barrington College, Bethel College (MN), Calvin College, Geneva College, Gordon College, Houghton College, Northwestern College (IA), Nyack Missionary College, Spring Arbor College, Taylor University, Trinity Christian College, Trinity College (IL), Westmont College, and Wheaton College.
  9. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 1, 1970. All unpublished minutes, letters, and reports are held in the CSR archives in Holland, Michigan.
  10. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 2, 1970.
  11. Ibid.
  12., accessed May 4, 2021.
  13. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 2, 1970.
  14. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 22, 1971.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 2, 1970.
  17., accessed May 4, 2021.
  18. This statement remained until recently when some modifications were made. For the new statement, see, accessed May 4, 2021.
  19. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 2, 1970.
  20. Ibid.
  21. George Brushaber, “Letter to all subscribers of The Gordon Review,” unpublished letter, no date.
  22. CSR 1.1 (1970): inside front cover.
  23. George Brushaber, “Editorial: Why Another Journal?,” CSR 1.1 (1970): 3-4.
  24. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 22, 1971.
  25. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 6, 1972.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 5, 1973.
  28. Gordon Werkema, “Letter to George Brushaber,” April 29, 1975, unpublished.
  29. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 3, 1975.
  30. Minutes of CSR meeting, May 1, 1976.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Interview of George Marsden by Todd Steen, conducted June 12, 2020.
  33. In 1977, Brushaber was Vice President and Dean of the Faculty at Bethel College (MN).
  34. Interview of George Brushaber by Todd Steen, conducted June 26, 2020.
  35. George Brushaber, “Letter to the Ad Hoc Committee of CSR Organization and Future,” April 22, 1977, unpublished. This committee was made up of selected members of the CSR editorial board.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Minutes of the CSR annual meeting, April 30, 1977.
  38. Minutes of the CSR annual meeting, April 29, 1978.
  39. Hakes described this process in an unpublished February 17, 1978 letter to Orlebeke.
  40. Minutes of the CSR annual meeting, April 29, 1978.
  41., accessed May 3, 2021.
  42. Clif Orlebeke, Annual Report of the CSR editor to the Board of Trustees of CSR, April 28, 1979.
  43. Clif Orlebeke, Annual Report of the CSR editor to the Board of Trustees of CSR, April 11, 1981.
  44. Clif Orlebeke, Annual Report of the CSR editor to the Board of Trustees of CSR, April 17, 1982.
  45. Edward H. Pauley, Publisher’s Report (and Resignation) to the Board of Trustees of CSR on April 13, 1982.
  46. Minutes of the Annual CSR meeting, April 16, 1983.
  47. William Hasker, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 15.1 (1985): 3.
  48. Ibid.
  49. Ibid., 4. A later CSR editor, Roger Olson, would note that he, too, received this same type of question. See Roger Olson, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 26.2 (1996): 127-128.
  50. Minutes of the Annual Meeting, April 13, 1991.
  51. William Hasker, “Notes from the Annual Meeting,” CSR 24.1 (1994): 4.
  52. Ibid.
  53. The award is described at, accessed May 4, 2021.
  54. Roger Olson, quoted in William Hasker, “Notes from the Annual Meeting,” CSR 26.1 (1994): 4.
  55. Roger Olson, “Editor’s Report to the CSR Board of Trustees,” April 17, 1999.
  56. Roger Olson, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 26.1 (1996): 3.
  57. Roger Olson, “Reflections on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Christian Scholar’s Review,” CSR 26.1 (1995): 6-7.
  58. Roger Olson, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 28.1 (1998): 6-8.
  59. King would later serve as Interim President of Montreat College in 2003. He stated later that he learned two things: “I do not ever want to be a college president, and I love being CSR editor!” Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 34.1 (2004): 3.
  60. CSR 27.4 (Summer 1998).
  61. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 29.1 (1999): 7.
  62. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 30.1 (2000): 5.
  63. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 31.1 (2001): 5.
  64. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 29.1 (1999): 7.
  65. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 40.1 (2010); 5.
  66. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 44.1 (2014): 3.
  67. Don King, “A Dream,” CSR 44.4 (2015): 331-332.
  68. Marion H. Larson was a longtime associate editor of CSR from Bethel University (MN).
  69. Mark P. Bruce and Marion H. Larson, “Introduction: Hospitable Readers, Neighboring Texts,” CSR 46.1 (2016): 4.
  70. Don W. King, “A Circling Fellowship and an Empowering Imagination: C. S. Lewis and the Inklings,” CSR 45.4 (2016): 365-376.
  71. Mark Bowald, “Editor’s Preface,” CSR 50.1 (2020): 3.
  72., accessed May 3, 2021.
  73., accessed May 3, 2021.
  74., accessed May 3, 2021.
  75. Stuart Barton Babbage, “A Question of Color,” CSR 1.1 (1970): 41-46.
  76. James Earl Massey, “Christian Theology and Social Experience of Being Black,” CSR 1.3 (1971): 207-216.
  77. CSR issues 34.4; 35.4; 44.4; 47.4; and 50.4, respectively.
  78. CSR issues 33.4; 39.4; and 42.4, respectively
  79. CSR 36.4 and 27.4, respectively.
  80. Minutes of the Annual Meeting of Christian Scholar’s Review, May 2, 1970.
  81. Minutes of the Annual Meeting of Christian Scholar’s Review, May 1, 1970.
  82. Report of Managing Editor Todd Steen to the CSR Board of Trustees, November 14, 2020. Subvention prices have remained constant since 2012.
  83. In 1970 an individual subscription to the journal cost six dollars a year; in 2021, the cost is twenty-four dollars. For libraries, a subscription cost fifteen dollars in 1983 compared to fifty dollars in 2021. CSR 1.1 (Fall 1970), inside cover; CSR 50.3 (Spring 2021), inside cover.
  84. William Hasker, “Annual Report to the CSR Board of Trustees,” April 13, 1991.
  85., accessed May 3, 2021. The event was moderated by new CSR editor Margaret Diddams.
  86. Both Marsden and Noll had earlier served as CSR associate editors for the social sciences.
  87. David Hoekema, quoted in Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 41.1 (2011): 8.
  88. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 40.1 (2010): 7.
  89. Don W. King et al., eds., Taking Every Thought Captive: Forty Years of the Christian Scholar’s Review (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2011).
  90., accessed April 23, 2021.
  91. Ibid.
  92. David Hoekema, quoted in Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 41.1 (2011): 7.
  93. This trip is noted in Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 41.1 (2011): 7.
  94. These trips are described in Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 36.1 (2006): 5.
  95. Unpublished letter from J. Edward Hakes to Charles Miller, May 1, 1978.
  96. Don King, “Notes from the Editor,” CSR 27.1 (1997): 3.
  97. Mark Bowald, “Editor’s Preface,” CSR 50.1 (2020): 4.
  98. David Hoekema, unpublished letter to CSR sponsoring institutions, January 2, 2002.
  99. Mark Bowald, “Editor’s Preface,” CSR 50.1 (2020): 4.
  100. George K. Brushaber, “Why Another Journal,” CSR 1.1 (1970): 3-4.
  101. Mark Bowald, “Editor’s Preface,” CSR 50.1 (2020): 4.
  102. This research was supported by the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College, the Department of Economics and Business at Hope College, and the Department of History at Hope College.

Todd Steen

Hope College
Todd Steen is the Granger Professor of Economics at Hope College, and he serves as the Managing Editor of Christian Scholar’s Review.

Grace Stevenson

Hope College
Grace Stevenson, from Downers Grove, Illinois, is a ministry major at Hope College.