With the revamp of the Christian Scholar’s Review website last year, it is easy to search our archives for authors, articles, book reviews, and essays from the paper edition of the journal dating back to 2012. We are also posting current articles on our homepage for easy access. As the editor of our print journal, I’d like to introduce you to the pieces in volume 50 issue 3. For the past fifteen months, I have used the word “remarkable” to describe the events and reckonings we have faced. This word choice is not a Pollyanna attempt to find the positive in all things, but because what we have witnessed will be remarked upon for generations to come. The four articles in our spring issue all touch on some aspect of disruption, dislocation, or disagreement that can fuel the remarkable. I want to thank former editor Mark Bowald of Redeemer University who worked with these authors to move their papers from review to publication. Even as the authors first submitted them early in 2020, I find them prescient in addressing current issues.
We can certainly turn to history to see how prior generations dealt with cultural dislocation. Ronald Witzke, Professor of Music at William Jewell College, writes about one such transformation in “Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen: Another Look.” Rather than simply viewing the ring cycle as a political statement, Witzke analyses it through the lenses of Neo-Platonism and panentheism, painting for us a western civilization that yearned for religious meaning as romanticism gave way to modernity.
M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall, Professor of Psychology in the Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola, provides a foundation for how we might help students learn through dislocating experiences in “Teaching Students to Doubt Well: The Roles of Intellectual Humility and Uncertainty Tolerance.” Hall’s article focuses on helping students work through the tensions they may experience between natural sciences’ truth claims and those of the Christian faith through the practices of humility and uncertainty tolerance. However, her work is apropos for working through tensions in any area of learning and faith.
Elizabeth H. P. Backfish, Assistant Professor, Hebrew Bible at William Jessup University, offers a related resource to examine seemingly contradictory faith claims in scripture through “Transformative Learning Theory as a Hermeneutic for Understanding Tensions within Scripture.” She writes about how this educational theory can address disorienting dilemmas between one’s existing knowledge structures and current experiences. Backfish then walks us through several examples of using Transformative Learning Theory with Old Testament passages.
What happens when dislocation is part of one’s own identity? Mary VandenBerg, Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, notes the deleterious effects of self-blame in “Shame, Guilt, and the Practice of Repentance: An Intersection of Modern Psychology with the Wisdom of Calvin.” Too often, people throw together the terms “guilt” and “shame” as if they are synonymous. VandenBerg creates a faithful conversation between social psychological research that differentiates these two constructs and the writings of Calvin to help us understand the destructiveness of shame, and the importance of practicing repentance that is ever mindful of God’s grace.
We are continuing an occasional feature in this issue: “Advice to Christian Professors of…”, with a nod to Alvin Plantinga’s 1984 essay “Advice to Christian Philosophers” published in the inaugural volume of Faith and Philosophy. David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, writes “Advice to Christian Professors of Literature.” In common with the theme of our other articles, Jeffrey bemoans the “disruption in the identity of the profession, the curriculum it teaches, and the intellectual gravitas obtaining for literary study among our colleagues in the university generally.” Although he writes particularly to his humanities colleagues, this essay warrants a close read for all who navigate the tension among the multiple citizenships of their guild, Christian institution, and the church writ large. I found one of his last sentences to be inspirational for all academicians:
Christian professors of literature ought to recognize, I suggest, that the great and distinctive task to which they are obliged is to teach people how to read so as to see into the deeper wisdom of the texts, to cherish the beauties of that wisdom’s expression, to memorize much of it, and to become members of the community of learning who read the Scripture more honestly, more faithfully, because they have learned to read in a literary way.
In our book reviews:
• John Bernbaum (BEAM – Business and Education as Mission) reviews Rod Dreher’s Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (Sentinel, 2020).
• Dave Klanderman (Calvin University) reviews Francis Su’s Mathematics for Human Flourishing (Yale University Press, 2020).
• James Vanderwoerd (Redeemer University) reviews Joshua Muravchik’s Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism (Encounter, 2019).
Later this summer, we will publish a special edition focused on “play.” It was a joy to work with Chad Carlson (Hope College), Brian Bolt (Calvin University), and Curtis Gruenler (Hope College) who served as the guest editors. The final issue of our fiftieth volume will hit your mailboxes and the web in August.1
- Excerpted from L:III “Editor’s Preface,” https://christianscholars.com/editors-preface-5/