It is a noble aspiration that Christian scholars contribute in more constructive ways to discussions in the public arena about the common good. Careful thinking, however, needs to be done about where and how such voices will be cultivated. The university has an essential and indeed imperative role in such formation, but it will need to reimagine its mission as educating for a virtue now direly needed in today’s world—wisdom. Darin Davis has served as director of the Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor University since 2008. He holds a faculty appointment in the Baylor Honors Program, serves on the graduate faculty of the Department of Philosophy, and is affiliated faculty of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary. From 2016-19, he served as Baylor’s vice president for university mission. His scholarly research focuses on the history of moral philosophy, virtue ethics, and higher education, and he is the editor of Educating for Wisdom in the 21st Century (St. Augustine’s Press, 2019).

It is a noble aspiration that Christian scholars contribute in more constructive ways to discussions in the public arena about the common good. Careful thinking, however, needs to be done about where and how such voices will be cultivated in the coming generations. Social media, for instance, has expanded the bounds of the public square beyond imagination. Anyone with a Twitter account can discuss the most pressing questions and issues of the day. To put it mildly, the substance and tone of reflection and debate about matters that pertain to all of us has not improved as a result of these changes. Such technological platforms cannot guarantee that their users will be honest, charitable, or even reasonable.

Where and how might Christians cultivate persons who have the virtues needed to advance public deliberation about the common good? The university has an essential and indeed imperative role in such formation, especially church-related institutions of higher learning. But is the contemporary university positioned to meaningfully cultivate the next generation of public intellectuals? Answering this question requires attention to the language that the university uses to describe its aims, purposes, and identity. If the university is to contribute to the preparation of those who can speak thoughtfully into questions about the common good, it will need to reimagine its mission as educating for a virtue now direly needed in today’s world – wisdom.

The Problem of Language in the Contemporary University

Colleges and universities face formidable challenges. Among other things, schools are expected to pursue cutting-edge research, educate students for global citizenship, gain recognition in rankings and the public eye, help solve the most vexing problems of our age, ensure graduates get good jobs, raise millions upon millions of dollars, and achieve excellence in everything from the moot court to the basketball court. They must do all of this while keeping students, faculty, staff, alumni, and overseers happy. Of course, they also need to balance the books. The University of Paris did not have to worry about all these things in the twelfth century.

Because institutions seemingly want to say “yes” to almost everything they are asked to do, they are prone to mission drift. Much has been said in the last several decades about the demise of higher education and how its essential work has been neglected or ignored.1 There is no need to rehearse those arguments here, but it is helpful to realize that many schools are currently in the midst of such unprecedented pressure that they often seem like they are suffering from something akin to cognitive dissonance, running breathlessly from one big trend or initiative to the next, often with mixed results.

Several years ago, the University of Texas at Austin attempted to launch a bold plan to revolutionize undergraduate teaching called Project 2021.2 Administrators sought to overhaul degree programs, ramp up online education, enhance experiential learning, and offer short courses embedded in conventional semesters. Project 2021 was intended to change the playing field of undergraduate education, not just at UT-Austin but everywhere else; however, it failed rather miserably and publicly because of a hurried timeline and lack of faculty and staff support. In the end, Project 2021 sapped energy and resources that could have been employed elsewhere because administrators felt pressure to do something “innovative.”

The language currently used to describe the aims of education is revealing. The rhetorically soaring The Heart of the Matter, a 2013 report of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was authored by a blue-ribbon collection of university administrators, scholars, public intellectuals, industry leaders, and others who hoped to articulate the future role of the humanities and the social sciences.3 There is much to admire in their work. They describe the need to educate persons for “knowledge, skills, and understanding” in ways that support democracy, encourage a society that is “innovative, competitive, and strong,” and teach for leadership in an interconnected world.4

The Heart of the Matter, however, is interesting, both for what it says and does not say. The terms “skills,” “critical thinking,” and “communication skills” are used more than 40 times. This language is not altogether surprising, given the way that faculty and administrators of colleges and universities often appear to conceive of education in largely instrumentalist ways. What is more interesting is the absence (in a 50-plus page document) of the terms “beauty,” “virtue,” “truth,” “ethics,” “morality,” “goodness,” “religion,” “justice,” or “wisdom.” It is difficult to imagine how education that professes to serve democracy, foster a flourishing society, and form leaders can do so without eventually invoking more substantive normative language than “critical thinking.” Though even modest moral language—courage, honesty, justice, for example—now strikes many ears as controversial or archaic, the effort to educate anyone anywhere rests upon some bedrock assumptions about who is being taught (human nature), what and how they ought to be taught (knowledge and virtue), and the more general goals of teaching and learning (truth, goodness, and beauty). These considerations are unavoidable. The Heart of the Matter does not get close to the heart of these matters.

The absence of any rich moral vocabulary in The Heart of the Matter mirrors the way that many colleges and universities are depriving themselves of the language they need for the tasks before them. Language matters because it shapes the collective imagination of an institution, particularly its faculty. It casts vision, sets priorities, and, in large measure, determines what is to be done. Yet, it is not just the lack of richer moral categories that is problematic: it is the proliferation of terms that have migrated from business and industry contexts to higher education, often by way of publications like the Harvard Business Review.

For example, in many higher education circles, three words seem in vogue: “strategic,” “innovative,” and “transformational.” There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these three words, but without some way of making clear their respective goals—a missional true north—they can come to signify almost anything. “Strategic,” for instance, denotes tactical insight before an action. Yet being strategic can mean nothing more than being shrewd, ingenious, or cunning. Totalitarian dictators can be strategic. Likewise, being innovative is now a quasi-virtue in higher learning circles; it denotes a cutting-edge mentality that establishes new pathways for effectiveness and growth. But innovation can be oblivious to the past: it can stress novelty to the exclusion of a sensitive understanding of institutional context, leading to repeated mistakes and unnecessary risks, as UT-Austin’s Project 2021 showed.5 Finally, scores of colleges and universities now trumpet themselves as offering an education that is transformational. But transformational in what way? From what and towards what? Schools that teach their students to desire power, money, and prestige over all else are certainly transformational, but not towards what is best. Unless what counts as transformational is part of a larger, teleological account of the essential purposes of an education, the word is hollow.

Educating those who might speak thoughtfully and constructively into the most important questions of the day will require a different language than many colleges and universities currently use. Indeed, what needs to be recovered is precisely the moral vocabulary that, for centuries, was at the heart of the university. One particular notion that could serve as an orienting point for this revival is the virtue of wisdom.

Educating for Wisdom: A Modest Proposal

Wisdom resists a simple definition, but a first step is to recall how the ancient Greek tradition, particularly Plato and Aristotle, understood wisdom, and how their conception of wisdom is embedded in a larger account of what it is to be human.6 The Greeks understood wisdom as a virtue (arête), an excellence that enables one to strive for true flourishing or happiness (eudaimonia). Aristotle, for example, believed that humans are neither morally good nor bad by nature, and maintained that humans can become good by developing, through habituation, a “second nature” of virtue. Virtues become a stable part of one’s character not in an instant, but over time and through experience.

So, what kind of virtue is wisdom? The ancient Greek tradition conceived of wisdom in two aspects, practical and theoretical. Practical wisdom involves knowing what to do—as well as how and when to do it—in a way that is consistent with human flourishing.7 Navigating a difficult situation with a co-worker, finding the best way to offer advice to a friend in distress, or determining the best way to act courageously in a dangerous situation: all of these require practical wisdom. Practical wisdom is expressed in action. But practical wisdom depends first and foremost on one’s ability to rightly see the circumstances one faces. There is no good way of knowing what, how, and when to act unless one can sensitively appreciate the context in which one will act. But the practically wise person also deliberates about the best way to achieve a goal. For this, one needs both a conception of what is being pursued and an understanding of how best to achieve it. Accordingly, practical wisdom is aptly described as goal-directed reason and is required for any act of virtue whatsoever. The one who is truly wise has moral vision, the deliberative power to choose well, and then goes on to do what is virtuous.

However, seeing, deliberating, and doing the right thing also involve grasping a more general understanding of what is good; this is theoretical wisdom.8 The Greek insight here is that one cannot know what is best to do in a particular circumstance without knowing what is best more generally. In this way, every virtuous action involves both the particular and the general. In the Greek tradition, theoretical wisdom is described in a number of important texts, including Book VII of Plato’s Republic. Recall that the lone cave dweller is unshackled from chains of self-imposed ignorance and begins the long, painful ascension towards the ineffable form of the Good, the source of all that is true, good, and beautiful—Being itself.9 Aristotle likewise describes a longing that all humans have for this more general kind of wisdom. In his Metaphysics, he expresses the yearning to know things at their most general level as the expression of a natural desire—a sense of wonder that all humans have. The particulars we know through the senses “do not tell us the ‘why’ of anything.”10 Yet we desire to know why; we inquire into the cause of particular things, including ourselves. We seek to understand, to unify disparate elements of experience, to find meaning. This is theoretical wisdom.

How might a university animated by the pursuit of practical and theoretical wisdom prepare the coming generation of public intellectuals who seek the common good? It is crucial that the university recover a moral vocabulary that fits its essential purposes. Simply using the word “wisdom,” of course, will not make one wise, nor will it guarantee that one’s efforts to teach and learn will cultivate wisdom, the common good, or anything else. We should not simply trade in the language of the Harvard Business Review for the Nicomachean Ethics only in order to put it on banners, billboards, and other promotional material while changing very little at all.

Invoking words with philosophical and theological depth can be powerful, however, because it can encourage educators and their students to reflect upon and then use those words, with the goal of (in the case of wisdom) actually living according to them. Language and practice, in this way, are interconnected. Teaching and learning never happen without some reference to the what and the why, without some assent to an imagination about what is being pursued. If we want to educate the coming generation of persons who have a capacity to use their reason to deliberate about the world and think in broad ways about how best to achieve a shared good, there is no more apt virtue to pursue than wisdom.

A university seeking to cultivate practical wisdom, for example, should prepare persons who are careful in thought and speech. If the practically wise person is one who sees the situation before her in its complexity and then can deliberate before she acts, then the university needs to find ways to cultivate wisdom or at least not encourage the vices that oppose it. This is undoubtedly a complicated question, but it may be helpful to consider the ways that contemporary public discourse is infected by the vice of rashness. We speak without reflection. Our modes of communicating with one another breed this vice. Social media and the 24-hour news cycle exacerbate the problem. The quickest comeback is often judged as more valuable than the well-reasoned answer. Speed is king and pursuing a question with depth is often criticized as boring or wonky.

If colleges and universities want to cultivate practical wisdom instead of rashness, there is one thing they can do: slow down. Educators must find ways to teach students to take a deep breath and actually think before answering important questions. Likewise, they should find other ways to emphasize that care in thought and speech are attributes to be prized, and that both require significant efforts to receive the wisdom of others, whether through the written or spoken word. Too often, students are taught that style trumps content and veracity. Habits of slow, close reading need to be emphasized at every opportunity, not speed reading, or worse yet, distracted glancing from one thing to another. Teachers should encourage students to pause and reflect before answering. These kinds of practices might curb the vice of rashness.

Of course, it might appear that many colleges and universities are, in fact, educating for practical wisdom through the courses and programs in leadership studies and applied ethics that have appeared, especially in the last two decades. Some of these programs might look like the best places to educate future public intellectuals: they promise to prepare students for ethical decision making and problem solving, civic engagement, and global leadership. The language of The Heart of the Matter is often spoken in these programs. Is not this what practical wisdom is?

Actually these efforts can undermine practical wisdom unless they are properly conceived. One way such courses can be ill-conceived is to promise students techniques, skills, and tools that they can use to achieve success in a particular domain, especially in their role as “ethical leaders.” The bare mention of techniques, skills, and tools, however, is problematic without a more general account of what such things ultimately serve. The sort of moral reflection that is part of practical wisdom is not a handy, multi-purposed tool or a five-step technique that can be applied to solve moral quandaries. Although virtues and skills are both developed through consistent practice, one can be skillful in any number of pursuits (for example, fly fishing, marathon running, or playing the stock market) and still be a crook, a liar, and a cheat. Virtues are about more than performing particular activities well. Instead, they are about being the right sort of person. Formation into virtue takes time; it is not like the assembly of a well-equipped tool kit.

Likewise, a university seeking to cultivate something akin to theoretical wisdom should prepare persons who ask why things are and seek to realize how one’s individual good is necessarily tied to the good of others. In this way, educating for wisdom involves inquiry into what is best for one’s family, city, state, country, and world at literally every turn. Students need not pursue advanced degrees in philosophy to ask these questions. Rather, colleges and universities should attend to the ways that philosophical questions pervade human experience and can be found throughout a student’s education.

What would it mean if more courses were taught in ways that encouraged scholars and students to think beyond their own subject matter and in ways that attempted to integrate larger concerns shared among the disciplines? How might students experience spiritual and moral growth if they understood from their very first days on campus that they would be encouraged and indeed expected to pause, look around, ask essential questions about human life, read and discuss great ideas that explore these questions among good teachers and other students—not because these endeavors would earn them an extravagant salary after graduation, but because it might orient their lives towards what is best? Such shifts in habits and mindsets would help to reorient the university’s collective imagination about its most essential work. Encouraging students to slow down and ask why would be a start towards educating the next generation of public intellectuals.

Christian Wisdom and the Common Good

My modest proposal for educating for wisdom might be carried out in a variety of university contexts. But it is important to realize the distinctive way that the Christian faith understands wisdom and the way Christians, especially in church-related institutions, might form the next generation to contribute to public reflection about the common good.

Consider how a broadly Christian conception of human nature and virtue differs from the views of the Greeks. First, Christians hold a doctrine of creation for which the Greeks had no equivalent. Genesis recounts that humans come into existence through the intentional creative act of God, the creator of the heavens and earth. All other living creatures were created according to their kind. However, God creates human beings in His own likeness and image (imago Dei) and blesses them in a special way.11

Second, a Christian account of human nature also has a distinctive account of the end or goal of human life. The Divine is not only the source of creation; it is also what all human beings ultimately seek as their telos, as the perfection of their nature.12 For Christians, perfect happiness is not simply living and doing well in this life, but rather beatitudo, the personal union of human beings with the Divine in the eternal life to come.

The Christian account of creation and teleology has implications for the confidence that can be placed in human reason. In the very first question of his Summa Theologica, Aquinas speaks to this precise point. It is necessary for human salvation, Aquinas explains, that there should be a knowledge that is revealed by God instead of reason.13 In relation to an infinite creator, humans are finite and thus our intelligence is inherently limited. About this, the ancients and Aquinas agree. Yet for the Greeks, human reason is, in the end, all that humans have. Though reason will be inevitably exhausted when it reaches the rarified air of the Divine, human beings in the end must accept that transcendence, construed as an escape from the clutches of the temporal world, is simply not to be. By contrast, Christians believe there is the hope of transcendence, not achieved by the rational capacities of the self, but rather offered as divine grace through Christ’s resurrection.

Indeed, the fact of human limitation transforms a Christian understanding of virtue, and accordingly wisdom. For the Greeks, human flourishing is to be pursued through sheer human effort, through the habituation of acquired virtue. But for Christians, true happiness, envisioned as beatitudo, is beyond the grasp of frail human beings. Yet, the acceptance of human finitude does not lead to a fatalism regarding the human condition. Christians see divine grace as the singular means to achieve perfect happiness. Grace bridges the chasm between human nature as it is and human nature as it may become, transformed in the light of the wisdom of God. Accordingly, divine wisdom is, in Aquinas’s language, an infused virtue, in which God acts through humans to move them towards the perfection of their nature.14

Christians, thus, recognize three forms of wisdom: practical, theoretical, and spiritual (or theological), with the latter surpassing the first two because it issues from God. The Christian faith is steeped, of course, in the wisdom tradition of the Old Testament. The book of Proverbs, for example, is a sustained message about the necessity of discerning and following the wisdom of God.15 Spiritual wisdom brings human beings a more distinct awareness not only of how God is manifest in all of creation, but also of the particular ways that God calls each person to faithfulness. Such wisdom can never come from intellectual effort alone because it surpasses what can be grasped through cognition. This is not to say that reason plays no role in the discernment of spiritual wisdom. Rather, grace perfects reason, revealing a transcendent source of guidance that surpasses human understanding.

So, how might a Christian university that seeks spiritual wisdom form persons who care deeply about the common good and want to contribute to public reflection about it? First and foremost, seeking and receiving spiritual wisdom as a divine gift should be marked by charity (caritas), the love of God and love of neighbor. The realization of unity in Christ and through Christ’s love should lead directly to reflection upon the common good. In this way, wisdom and charity are bound together.

As a result, practical things might be done in the context of Christian higher learning to cultivate these virtues, especially by practicing charity in the exchange of ideas, reading a text so as to illuminate and not first deconstruct its meaning, learning to write in ways that take into account the strongest possible objections to one’s own views, and speaking in ways that seek the good of another. To many, these practices may sound like naive aspirations, especially in the context of contemporary life that is so marked by discord. But for Christians, seeking the common good is by definition an expression of love for God and neighbor. Seeking wisdom, construed this way, must be done with great love. It is profoundly countercultural.

Moreover, a Christian university animated by spiritual wisdom can encourage humility in both teachers and learners. If rashness is one of the prevalent vices of much contemporary public discourse, then we might add to it intellectual arrogance. Again, our ways of communicating ideas, especially through sound bites and 280-character Tweets, encourage a lack of humility. The glib statement and the bold pronouncement dominate. One lesson that can be imparted to those who might speak publicly into matters of the common good is that by virtue of their finitude, humans are prone to all kinds of failures of perception, misunderstanding, and plain and simple error. Beyond the intellectual mistakes that abound, moral and spiritual vice can cloud even our best efforts to realize what is true and best.

For Christians, the fact of human imperfection provokes a sense of awe, understood as the remarkable mix of fear, wonder, and reverence experienced when one acknowledges something truly real, powerful, and beautiful beyond oneself.16 It is through this recognition of the Divine that awe begets humility, as one comes to realize the proper relationship between oneself, others, and God. This is precisely the place where one might best engage questions about the common good.

Why the Christian University Needs the Church Now More than Ever

I have suggested here that educating for wisdom might serve the cause of preparing the next generation of public intellectuals who speak into questions about the common good. I also have underscored that the language of contemporary higher education, which the Christian university shares, is impoverished in significant ways, and that resurrecting the language of virtue might lead to practices of teaching and learning that are necessary for developing a new generation of wise persons able to reason together about how to work towards the common good. For this important work, the Christian university needs the church, now more than ever; indeed, on this score, the university has more to learn from the church than the church does from the university. Briefly, allow me to make three observations.

First, the contemporary university—including the Christian university—will need to learn a new language, or perhaps remember an old language. The best source for that language is not from business, industry, or even most higher education practitioners. Again, there is nothing wrong per se with these sources, but they do not serve the university well if the university wants to educate in distinctively Christian ways. Biblical, theological, and philosophically richer language will need to be recovered and employed throughout the life of the university, not for the sake of the humanities departments only, but for the entire institution. The church, especially in its preaching and discipleship efforts, is vital in this regard. A Christian university must draw upon the language of the faith to teach its students, recruit its faculty, describe its programs, and convey both inside and outside its walls who it is and what it believes. If the language of faith and its central concepts—creation, fall, redemption, restoration, among many others—are not continually retrieved, transmitted, and lived out, they will atrophy and die. With them, so will the Christian university’s memory and imagination about why it even exists.17

Second, the work of educating for wisdom will require practices that mirror those of the church. These practices might include: slowing down to seek understanding instead of mere competency or “mastery,” thus guarding against rashness; placing a greater emphasis on charitable reading, speaking, listening, and the like, which helps us recognize that communicating with one another is, at its best, an expression of caritas; and placing less emphasis on students and scholars marketing themselves for placement, promotion, and public recognition, which undermines humility and breeds vainglory.18 These kinds of countercultural practices of teaching and learning, I suggest, are most faithfully modeled in worship and prayer, when our attention is drawn towards divine wisdom.

Third, we should cultivate a shared imagination between the church and the university. Without trespassing on the special missions of each, we do well to see how both are, at their best, seeking to grow in understanding and obedience to God, to realize and then follow what God intends for each and all of us. The church and the university, so conceived, are special ways through which Christians express faithfulness to God’s calling. In this way, educating for Christian wisdom depends upon both the university and the church. Fostering this shared vision is difficult, especially when both Christian universities and the church face so many challenges. I have no silver bullet in mind, but two recently commenced programs at Baylor University are attempting to bring the language and practices of the church in closer connection to the university.

The first is a faculty formation program called “Character Across the Curriculum.” Inspired by the conviction that faculty across the disciplines should be equipped and encouraged to contribute to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual formation of students, the program is an intensive one-year experience in which instructors build or reconstruct a course they want to teach with an eye towards a particular virtue. Colleagues from fields such as engineering, music, social work, education, and political science have explored the richness of the Christian virtue tradition, which invariably has led them to recover, in ways appropriate to their disciplines, virtue language found in classical and Biblical texts. Through the classes taught by these professors, future schoolteachers are learning about hospitality in the classroom, engineers are learning about how faith undergirds the projects they design, and students in political science are learning about charity in the public square. Students (and their teachers) are not just learning the language of the virtues; they are being immersed in a variety of practices, both in and out of the classroom and the laboratory, that form them in the virtues. This modest program is doing something significant: helping students and faculty across the university to envision teaching and learning as educating for Christian wisdom. Perhaps students in these courses will contribute wisely to discussion about the common good in the days ahead.

Another new effort that more directly seeks to foster a shared imagination between the church and the university is the Soundings Project. With the help of a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., this initiative seeks to help 15 diverse congregations across Texas to discern how they are being called to be the church. For many congregations, this process may lead to new models of ministry outreach or approaches to formation and discipleship. As part of the Soundings Project, Baylor’s role is, first and foremost, to encourage and enable these congregations, much as Barnabas did for Paul and the early church. Faculty and staff with special expertise will be positioned to help congregations develop their ministries. At the same time, leaders of the Soundings Project also will be listening to and learning from the congregations as their work proceeds. How might the university shape its curriculum and programs to serve the church more effectively in the days ahead? How might the considerable wisdom of the church (again, including its language and practices) shape the university’s vision about its own mission and identity? Perhaps this effort, too, will shape the imagination of future faculty and students in ways that will inform deliberation and practice that seeks the common good.

These two programs are new, and it will take years to see whether they will make a lasting difference. But even now, they should help remind us how the pursuit of wisdom is at the heart of the university’s work and how it might animate the relationship between the academy and the church. Thoughtful and charitable voices need to be prepared to take up the most pressing challenges we face, and Christians need to think anew about how such voices might be prepared for the task. Educating for wisdom, along the lines I have described, might be among the most strategic, innovative, and transformational things that we can do.

Cite this article
Darin H. Davis, “Seeking the Common Good by Educating for Wisdom”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 49:4 , 343-353

Footnotes

  1. Some notable books that lament contemporary higher education include the following: Derek Bok, Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More, rev. ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008); Andrew Delbanco, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, rev. ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014); Anthony T. Kronman, Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007); Harry Lewis, Excellence Without a Soul (New York: PublicAffairs, 2007).
  2. Lindsay Ellis, “How UT-Austin’s Bold Plan for Reinvention Went Belly Up,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 3, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/Project2021.
  3. American Academy of Arts & Sciences, The Heart of the Matter (Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2015), https://www.amacad.org/publication/heart-matter.
  4. Ibid., 10-13.
  5. For a helpful discussion of “traditioned innovation,” see L. Gregory Jones, Christian Social Innovation: Renewing Wesleyan Witness (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2016).
  6. Some of my discussion here is adapted from Darin H. Davis, “The University in Crisis and the Ways of Wisdom,” in Educating for Wisdom in the 21st Century, ed. Darin H. Davis (South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine’s Press, 2019), 26-41.
  7. Aristotle, “Nicomachean Ethics,” trans. W. D. Ross and J. O. Urmson, in Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 2: The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 1106b36-1107a7.
  8. Aristotle, “Nicomachean Ethics,” 1177a12-1178a8.
  9. Plato, Republic, Volume II: Books 6-10, ed. and trans. Christopher Emlyn-Jones, William Preddy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 514a-519d.
  10. Aristotle, “Metaphysics,” trans. W. D. Ross, in Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 2: The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 981b10-12.
  11. Genesis 2:27-28. Scriptural citations are to the New King James Version.
  12. John 14:6; Revelation 22:13.
  13. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1981), I., q.1, a.1, resp.
  14. Ibid., Summa Theologica II-II, q.45.
  15. Proverbs 3:13.
  16. The connection between fear and wisdom is powerfully made in Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (NKJV).
  17. One also cannot overlook the importance of church music, especially for some traditions, in teaching the language of the faith. The hymns of the faith certainly teach a language; in my own Baptist tradition, the hymns of Fanny Crosby have shaped the imaginations of countless followers.
  18. Paul J. Griffiths, “From Curiosity to Studiousness: Catechizing the Appetite for Learning,” in Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning, eds. David I. Smith and James K. A. Smith (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011), 102-122.

Darin H. Davis

Baylor University
Dr. Darin H. Davis joined the Honors Program faculty at Baylor University in 2016.  He also serves on the graduate faculty of the Department of Philosophy and is affiliated faculty of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.