Amos Yong is J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Evangelical higher education appears to be a booming business in the twenty-first century. Enrollment and expansion have persisted at much higher rates over the last two decades for schools affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) than at other religious schools and certainly at secular universities.1 Such success is no doubt good news for recruiters and those charged with balancing the books each year. Yet, of course, there are always financial challenges – the mantra at every school is that there is not enough money to do everything that is needed to be done – not to mention other concerns attending these numbers.

Following in the heels of expansion is, not surprisingly, a flurry of scholarly discussion and analysis. The literature is booming, and unless one was to have begun one’s scholarly career in and then remained engaged with the field for the last few decades, it is difficult either to catch up or to keep up. I come to this material having taught the last 13 years at two CCCU-affiliated institutions: the earlier being within a liberal arts undergraduate context and the more recent in a seminary which is one school within a university. In a sense I have lived through some of the changes that have taken place in evangelical higher education, but it is only recently that I have begun to engage with the scholarship on this phenomenon.2

This essay documents trends I have found noteworthy. Its four sections comment on four discernible shifts, first related to the secularization thesis, and then connecting, even if loosely, to the standard tropes of evangelical higher education concerning scholarship, teaching, and service. In each of the latter three arenas we can see evidence that sets in relief the secularization thesis, in particular how that thesis is being challenged by what institutions of higher education in the evangelical world are seeking to accomplish. The concluding section will spotlight discussions in the wider scholarship that evangelical higher educators will need to engage in the years to come.

My goals throughout, however, are quite modest: to identify some of the major developments that I as a newcomer to the field have noted, but which I hope will be of interest to all committed to the task of higher education within an evangelical frame of reference. For those who may not yet have been initiated to the extant literature, perhaps the following will serve as a kind of annotated bibliography to this dynamic arena. More seasoned scholars in this area can compare what follows with their much-more-comprehensive grasp of the work that has been done. They may also be intrigued by what stands out to someone who has been a relative outsider until recently.

From Secularization to Religious Revitalization

The 1990s saw what may have been the apex of engagement with the secu-larization thesis in relationship to higher education, especially in North Amer-ica. Evangelical historian George Marsden and Roman Catholic scholar James Burtschaell were at the forefront of arguing this case.3 While the former focused on historical, ideological, and methodological trends leading to the gradual secularization of the major universities that were originally founded on religious principles, the latter focused on a number of case studies to show how colleges and universities over time became disengaged with, and eventually dissolved from relationship to, their founding churches and denominations. Of course, the reasons in each case are complicated and the process itself quite gradual, even subterranean oftentimes so that it is only with hindsight that the trends toward secularization are evident. One could come away from this literature discouraged that these developments appear to have been inevitable despite the many con-scious initiatives of resistance documented over the centuries. Yet as with much historical work, the value is that they provide lessons that can also inform future generations of evangelical higher educational leadership and practice. 

In part in response to these more ominous sounding clarion calls of the 1990s, the new decade has seen almost a reversal of scholarly trends. One the one hand we have analyses of how secularization trends continue to undermine the effectiveness of university education,4 while on the other we are also observing how and why religious and especially evangelical universities and colleges have been flourishing.5 The latter helpfully identify positive models of institutions that have more or less successfully (to date) resisted the forces of secularization, and these, especially of the institutions that have had a longer history, deserve to be studied carefully by anyone interested in the future of Christian higher education. In a few cases, of course, there is documentation also of newly-established institu-tions, motivated in large part by the desire to offer a distinctively Christian form of education – in terms of both pedagogical form and intellectual/theological content – unavailable certainly in secular universities but also deemed inchoately formed at existing Christian environments. I will return below to consider some of the market factors related to the Christian higher educational enterprise.

What we are finding also is that many twenty-first-century college students are religiously or spiritually engaged and often either are open to exploring these domains of their lives as students or even choose to attend a religiously-based institution in part for that reason.6 But whether at secular or religious institu-tions, many students are attending to their spiritual quest.7 They are less likely to dichotomize their religious and moral lives from their intellectual endeavors and more conscious about seeking a holistic mode of interfacing these various domains.

In short, the secularization thesis appears to be suffering the same fate in American colleges and universities as in society at large. The prediction a generation earlier that with further modernization religion would be increasingly marginalized or even disappear is turning out to be wrong. The vitality of religious institutions of higher education indicates that the secularization thesis is not playing out in this arena. Rather, religious higher education appears to be vibrant and evangelical forms of such even more so. Even in the secular university context, religious initiatives are flourishing.8 This suggests that evangelical colleges and universities will have opportunities into the foreseeable future to supply the demand sought by this generation of students. How will they respond? 

Within the CCCU, the focus, especially in faculty evaluations, lies in three areas: teaching, scholarship, and service, and usually in that order. The next three sections of this essay are devoted to each of these areas, broadly understood, in order to explore tendencies that could foreshadow the shape of the evangelical university in light of the “revitalization of religion” thesis observed here. We will begin with scholarship, not necessarily because it is more important but because it has generated a disproportionate amount of literature in the field.

From the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind to (Scandalous!) Evangelical Scholarship

Even before appearance of his major work on the secularization of the university (discussed above), George Marsden had already begun asking the question about why there were no major universities within the tradition of evangelical Christianity.9 By the middle of the 1990s, he was joined by fellow evangelical historian Mark Noll, who lamented what he called the “scandal of the evangeli-cal mind,” namely that there was no evangelical mind as such, at least not one that could sustain the kind of research agenda that universities were supposed to carry.10 The challenges that both Marsden and Noll outlined were numerous. Most concisely, the catch-22 that most Christian higher educators faced was that the more specifically Christian goals for education and the habits they brought with them to the educational task were at variance from the goals and methods of advancing knowledge aimed for by modern research universities. Further, the apologetic dimension of Christian faith inevitably meant that given the naturalism prevalent especially in the major scientific disciplines, Christians found themselves having to argue against the scientism that pervades wide segments of the academic discussion, resulting in turn in a fideistic mentality in some circles. Last but not least, since most Christian scholars, scientists, and educators were educated in their disciplines and had little advanced study in the Christian faith, trying to bring explicitly Christian perspectives to bear on their scholarly work was a major task. So even if Christians could agree that there were good reasons for engaging in specifically Christian forms of inquiry (whether apologetically or constructively11) the question was how this was to be done in a way that engaged the wider academic, scientific, and scholarly conversations.

The issues are even more complicated than the preceding outlines.12 It might be meaningful at some general level to talk about specifically Christianscholarship, but there were few generically Christian or evangelical institutions; instead, there were Reformed, Baptistic, Wesleyan, and even Pentecostal ones, and more. So did it make sense to talk even more specifically about Reformed, Baptistic, Wesleyan, or even Pentecostal Christian scholarship, and so forth? Part of the challenge was, as Noll diagnosed it, that pietist and revivalist Christian sensibilities worked in the long run to inhibit development of the evangelical life of the mind. This as-sessment drew out responses from both Wesleyan and Pentecostal scholars who acknowledged the challenge but also in some cases suggested that the scandal is less that identified by Noll (that there is no evangelical life of the mind) but that the norms for assessing the Christian life of the mind are going to be scandalous unless accommodated (by Noll or others) to the conventions of the world.13 Ye t did not the postmodern deconstruction of the notion that there were objective, neutral, or universal perspectives invite even more concrete specifications of the evangelical mind, if indeed “one” was to be formed? Was it now asking for too much to say that there were even multiple Christian (not to mention Islamic, Buddhist, and so on) ways of engaging the task of religiously informed, inspired, and faithful scholarship? 

There are of course other challenges to the building of evangelical universi-ties. What about the fact that much research funding came from sources outside he university? How would specifically evangelical institutions compete for such funds or if not, how could other sources of research funding be generated? Last but not least, what about the challenges related to academic freedom at religious institutions? Could exploratory research be fostered given not just the theological and doctrinal frameworks of such institutions but also their having to negotiate relationships with ecclesial constituencies that are often more conservative (in almost every respect) than are scholars and academics?

Evangelical scholars have begun to devote some concerted attention to sort-ing through these matters. At a fundamentally theological level, there is a grow-ing confidence that Christ-centeredness, a non-negotiable for evangelicals, has substantive meaning for the task of evangelical higher education.14 Yet how does this translate meaningfully for Christians working in the sciences, the arts, and the humanities? Re-enter Mark Noll to sketch the possibility of a Christological model that not only provides theological motivations for interdisciplinary research and scholarship but also material principles to guide inquiry in these various domains.15 In contrast to his earlier rather dour diagnosis about the evangelical scandal, Noll is now more hopeful about the future. However, in the end, he opts to remain at the more generically Christian level, urging “Christian scholarship by evangelicals more than evangelical Christian scholarship.”16

In many ways, however, discussion regarding the task of evangelical scholarship remains at the level of how individual faculty engage their various disciplines. Marsden’s pondering at the beginning of this section regarding the absence of evangelical universities remains to be answered definitely. One institution that has made serious strides in this direction is Baylor University, a school profiled as exemplary in a number of the studies we have already mentioned so far. Recently, Baylor concluded its 2012 vision to transition into the ranks of tier-one research universities,17 and it remains poised to excel as an evangelical institution of higher education. Interestingly, Baylor has not eschewed its Baptistic roots and history n favor of a blander Christian character, although it remains to be seen to what degree it will embrace more intentionally a more explicitly Baptistic vision of higher education going forward.18 Baylor’s success to date foregrounds the possibility of more tradition-specific approaches that have implications not only for Christian scholarship but also for teaching and pedagogical methods.

From Worldview Integration to Competing Faith Engagement and Pedagogical Models

It is on this note that we turn to consider shifts in how teaching is understood in evangelical higher education. The dominant model fuses scholarship and teaching under the label of faith-learning integration.19 This particular approach reflects the starting point of many if not most faculty in evangelical institutions of higher education who obtain their terminal degrees (that is, their “learning”) from research universities and find themselves having to ask new questions (for example, about their “faith”) in engaging the task of Christian higher education. While what it means to “integrate” learning with faith and vice versa remains contested, few who are committed to teaching in an evangelical context would disagree that this label describes an important process not only for the purposes of nurturing evangelical scholarship in the search for truth but also for the sake of students. Teaching has to involve engaging students with the advances in knowledge in any field.

In part because some of the initial spokespersons for faith-learning integra-tion were Reformed philosophers of repute like Nicholas Wolterstorff and in part because those that led the way in modeling such integration were Reformed institutions like Calvin College, the integrationist project articulated in these venues remained by and large an intellectual exercise.20 Part of the result of such an orientation was that the challenge was engaged primarily at the worldview level: Christian faith brought with it an entire constellation of ideas that contrasted with the values of secular viewpoints.21 Thus each discipline needed to be interrogated to determine when secular assumptions were prevalent and also to identify what are the more appropriate Christian presuppositions needed to foster and sustain authentic Christian inquiry. Students are thus expected to be introduced to the task of worldview analysis and then the application of specifically Christian perspectives in their understanding.22 These are intellectual tasks, requiring cognitive engagement with ideas, their provenances, and their consequences. Education according to this model is about the formation of evangelical student minds.

But is the Reformed model of faith-learning integration the best way forward for evangelical scholarship, teaching, and learning? To be sure, we have already noted that Baylor University itself has been shaped as much by its Baptistic identity (that is, an ethos that values soul-competency and the separate of church and state), as by the integrationist approach, and there have been emerging gradually articulations of a wider range of models of Christian higher education including distinctively Catholic, Lutheran, Wesleyan, and even Anabaptist/Mennonite renditions.23 At one level, each of these can be understood to be engaged in the task of integration, broadly conceived; at another level, however, the what and the how of integration differs in each case. While Lutherans may in some respects resonate with the distinction between Christian faith and secular learning, Roman Catholics may be more inclined to see the former fulfilling the latter in some way while Wesleyans (and Pentecostals) are as interested in the formation of the heart and the hands, alongside that of the mind.24

More recently, awareness has emerged even within Reformed circles that the classical faith-learning model is oftentimes overly intellectualistic to the (mostly unintended) exclusion of engaging students holistically.26

Within the dominant secular and research university model, faculty certainly also have service requirements. However, such has often been instrumentalized with regard to what it contributes to the functioning of the university. In actuality, then, “service” refers to the functional aspects of university existence rather than to its core aims: committees are essential to ensure the real work of the university can proceed – that of research, the promulgation of learning, and the cultivation of the intellect. Part of the secularization of the university over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, involved distinguishing truth (connected to research and free/open inquiry), from goodness (connected to service and morality), not to mention beauty (associated with culture and the arts).27 The result was not only the marginalization of religion but also of morality within the university context. 

The research university has since been struggling to put back together what the development of especially scientific disciplinary specialization has fragmented. Thus more recent theorists have called for a reconsideration of the relationship between education and spirituality, probing their confluence rather than disparateness.28 Evangelical philosophers such as J. P. Moreland have also begun to address these matters more explicitly, albeit deploying categories from theological anthropology to make their case.29 Attending to the spiritual aspects of human life for Moreland involves not general discussion of spirituality but explicit attention to the work of the Holy Spirit. This raises the question of whether overcoming the scandal of the (non-existent) evangelical mind might involve not only a robust Christological vision but also a pneumatically inspired one, and if so, what that might mean or look like.

Evangelical higher education has never abandoned attention to the spiritual and moral formation of its students in part because they have by and large remained as teaching colleges rather than developed into research universities. Still, little explicit theoretical reflection on what this involves has appeared, until more recently.30 Such an emphasis surely is consistent with the goals not only of ancient paideia but also of the liberal arts tradition, broadly conceived, which was to form the moral character of students so that they could develop into citizens capable of serving the polis. Yet the realization is that the cultivation of moral identity cannot be limited to formal curricular activity since the virtues are more “caught” through imitation of exemplars than they are taught or learned through reading and writing. Hence a more seamless approach to the curriculum is re-quired, one that provides an ethos or set of traditions of practice through which exemplars can model and mentor the moral life. For Christians, the goal is not merely to produce sages but to transform “human animals into saints,”31 in effect to redeem human identities. 

Yet as Wolterstorff has incisively urged, the formation of moral agents ought to be motivated by the more overarching Christian vision of a peaceful and just society. In a much-reprinted essay, “Teaching for Justice,” Wolterstorff calls attention to what he calls “the wounds of humanity” and urges that an educational enterprise that does not engage with these realities of a sinful and fallen world fails its students, not to mention all connected to the educational task.32 33 Needed is a holistic model focused on nurturing human flourishing understood in terms of “people living in right relationships with God, themselves, each other, and nature,” and directed to the achievement of justice, viewed as “the ground of shalom, and [for which] responsible action is its vehicle.”33 igher education that is Christian thus instills not only moral values but also a moral vision that inspires pursuit of the common good.34

The heart of this essay has overviewed some of the most pertinent literature related to evangelical commitments to scholarship, teaching, and service in the wake of trends countering the secularization thesis in higher education. We have observed three accents in the conversation: discussions regarding the emerging character of what Noll calls “the evangelical mind”; proposals for rethinking what has traditionally been identified as faith-learning integration that has built on, but sought not to be constrained by, the worldview model; and a recovery of pre-modern forms of paideia that have emphasized both spiritual and moral forma-tion as part of a holistic educational program. It would appear that these are all important aspects of the contemporary education task and also that evangelicals ought to be primed to contribute to the conversation both within their own circles but also through engaging the wider academic conversation.

Whither the Future of Evangelical Higher Education?

Is the future for evangelical higher education as bright as the above picture appears to portray? While not desiring to end on a pessimistic note, it is important also to highlight in this survey dispatches from the broader discussion. We will close by briefly attending to three interrelated sets of concerns: regarding what it means for evangelical institutions of higher education to maintain a relationship with the church; the economic dimension of higher education; and the role of media and the new technologies in an emerging global context. Again, we cannot be exhaustive in what follows, so only an outline of the issues will be sketched.

First, what does it mean to be a Christian university? Stanley Hauerwas is doubtful that we are in a good position to answer this question in part because educational institutions lack connections to churches that are capable of engaging them in a meaningful way.35 Put another way, the problem is that universities are accredited by all sorts of non-Christian agencies even as the “ground rules” for higher education have been established by liberal secular universities. In fact, then, while many evangelical institutions are church-related, they operate according to other norms that are oftentimes contrary to the values of the gospel. But is it pos-sible to reconstruct the contemporary Christian university on ecclesially-defined norms and values? How might this be accomplished without turning universities into churches? Or to return to Hauerwas’ question: where are the churches that can come alongside and both support but also challenge Christian universities to be formed first according to the gospel rather than the world’s standards of conventions? The challenge for the present and future is how to articulate an ecclesially-informed vision of Christian higher education that can be owned by the church and Christian academia alike.36

Second, however, the proliferation of private and even religious institutions of higher education is possible only within a democratic capitalist political econ-omy. Hauerwas indicates that this challenge is the flipside of the preceding one regarding the relationship between the university and the church; that in effect, modern universities are products of the modern nation state with its economic investments and thus are beholden to purposes related to the perpetuation of the political and economic status quo.37 Hence the question concerns not only the solvency of academic institutions but their roles within the contemporary global economy.38 When we consider the market pressures that all institutions of higher education are subject to – evangelical ones not exempted – such as recruitment and retention of students, the production of knowledge, the ever-present quest for funding including access to the government’s role in such, not to mention the emergence of “for profit” educational enterprises, it is clear that education has become a commodity in many respects subject to economic agents and networks far beyond the church. Evangelical higher educators will need to be vigilant in thinking through how immersion in the present neoliberal regime can potentially undermine theological commitments in the educational endeavor. Any response will need to maintain integrity in not pursuing all that is alluring but that lies outside the institutional vision, mission, and agenda.

The third set of concerns and challenges are already foreshadowed in the preceding discussion. Market forces are leading evangelical universities online and in search of other forms of expansion and revenue-production. The accessibility of the Internet is slowly but assuredly transforming higher education,39 nd may even threaten the concept of the residential campus in the not-too-distant future. Thus there is a real sense in which higher education is going global, not merely in terms of education being a global phenomenon but in terms of institutional processes involving global mediation, connecting people across national and regional borders to ideas and other educational commodities. Educational institutions are also exploding across the global South,40 with many already steeped in the available media and technology even though they lack adequate theoretical and conceptual rationales for engaging with these discerningly. Yet there is a real sense in which what is happening around the world is merely imitating trends afoot in the northern hemisphere. North American evangelicals thus have an ob-ligation to lead the way in thinking clearly about the use of virtual technologies in the educational enterprise even as they also need to consider what it means to be educational in our newly emerging global context.41

Engaging matters across these various fronts will be challenging for evangelical higher educators, but they are necessary for our time. If creatively addressed going forward, evangelical colleges and universities will be more poised to provide the kind of global leadership for the twenty-first century to which they are called. This might even build up the church, a welcome development for churches that are inclined to be invested in the task of Christian higher education.42


Cite this article
Amos Yong, “Whence and Whither in Evangelical Higher Education? Dispatches from a Shifting Frontier”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 42:2 , 179-191


  1. See the introduction to Samuel Joeckel and Thomas Chesnes, eds., The Christian College Phenomenon: Inside America’s Fastest Growing Institutions of Higher Learning (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2012), 11-12, plus the reports cited there.
  2. Precipitated by researching and writing “Finding the Holy Spirit at the Christian University: Renewal and the Future of Higher Education in the Pentecostal-Charismatic Tradition,” in Vinson Synan, ed., Spirit-Empowered Christianity in the 21st Century: Insights, Analyses, and Future Trends (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2011), 455-476 and 577-587, and more re-cently in preparing a book I am co-authoring with my colleague at Regent University, Dale Coulter, Finding the Holy Spirit at the Christian University: Renewing Christian Higher Education (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013).
  3. See George M. Marsden and Bradley J. Longfield, eds., The Secularization of the Academy(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992); George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); and James Tunstead Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998). See also Douglas Sloan, Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994).
  4. See C. John Sommerville, The Decline of the Secular University (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), who discusses the difficulty within the secular university context of defining the human, discussing morality, engaging with religion, and providing any kind of viable vision of the future.
  5. or example, Robert Benne, Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith with Their Religious Traditions (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001), discusses six colleges and universities from across the mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, and evangelical spectrum, while Samuel Schuman, Seeing the Light: Religious Colleges in Twenty-First-Century America (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), noteworthy here because he is not himself a Christian, assesses ten schools across a similar spectrum. See also Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, eds., The American University in a Postsecular Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  6. Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm, Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010).
  7. See Naomi Schaefer Riley, God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Genera-tion are Changing America (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005), a journalist who visited Christian, Jewish, and even a Buddhist university to talk to students about their religious and spiritual lives, and also Trent Sheppard, God on Campus: Sacred Causes and Global Effects (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009), who discusses the Campus America prayer initiative. For a case study of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at a Canadian university that illuminates the fortunes of religious groups on secular university campuses, see Paul Bramadat, The Church on the World’s Turf: An Evangelical Christian Group at a Secular University (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
  8. For example, as in the success reported by Harvey Cox in teaching a course on Jesus and ethics at Harvard University: Harvey G. Cox, When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004).
  9. George Marsden, “Why No Major Evangelical Universities? The Loss and Recovery of Evangelical Advanced Scholarship,” in Joel A. Carpenter and Kenneth W. Shipps, eds., Mak-ing Higher Education Christian: The History and Mission of Evangelical Colleges in America (St. Paul, MN: Christian University Press/Christian College Consortium, and Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), 294-304. Marsden’s substantive response to his question came ten years later, along with a constructive proposal for remedying the situation, in George M. Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
  10. Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994).
  11. 1As summarized by Alvin Plantinga, “The Twin Pillars of Christian Scholarship,” in Seeking Understanding: The Stob Lectures, 1986-1998 (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001), 117-161.
  12. As indicated by volumes such as Douglas V. Henry and Bob R. Agee, eds., Faithful Learning and the Christian Scholarly Vocation (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerd-mans Publishing Company, 2003); Richard T. Hughes, The Vocation of the Christian Scholar: How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI and Cam-bridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005); and Todd C. Ream and Perry L. Glanzer, Christian Faith and Scholarship: An Exploration of Contemporary Developments (San Francisco, CA: Wiley, 2007), also published as the ASHE Higher Education Report 33:2 (2007).
  13. See, for example, David Bundy, Henry H. Knight, III, and William Kostlevy in the Wesleyan Theological Journal 32 (Spring 1997), and Cheryl Bridges Johns, “Partners in Scandal: Wesleyan and Pentecostal Scholarship,” PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 21:2 (1999): 183-197.
  14. Already in the 1980s, the call had been issued by Charles Malik, A Christian Critique of the University, 2nd ed. (Waterloo, ON: North Waterloo Academic Press, 1987), that if Christian higher education did not revitalize its Christ-centered mission, then higher education in general would continue to flounder. For a more recent restatement of this theme, see Duane Litfin, Conceiving a Christian College (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), esp. chs. 3-5, and Bradley G. Green, The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010).
  15. Mark A. Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011); see also Mark A. Noll and James Turner, The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue, ed. Thomas Albert Howard (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2008).
  16. Mark A. Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, 165. For another christological vision of the life of the mind, see Norman Klassen and Jens Zimmermann, The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006).
  17. See the informative and in many respects inspiring account of this journey in Barry G. Hankins and Donald D. Schmeltekopf, eds., The Baylor Project: Taking Christian Higher Education to the Next Level (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2007).
  18. The complex of issues, at least as unfolded in the 1990s, is presented by Larry Lyon and Michael Beaty, “Integration, Secularization, and the Two-Spheres View at Religious Col-leges: Comparing Baylor University with the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown College,” Christian Scholar’s Review 29:1 (Fall 1999): 83-112.
  19. Initially articulated by Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College (1975; rev. ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987); see also Harold Heie and David L. Wolfe, eds., The Reality of Christian learning: Strategies for Faith-Discipline Integration (St. Paul, MN: Christian Univer-sity Press, and Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), and William Hasker, “Faith-Learning Integration: An Overview,” Christian Scholar’s Review 21:3 (1992): 234-248.
  20. A number of essays in Nicholas Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education, eds. Clarence W. Joldersma and Gloria Goris Stronks (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), address this matter.
  21. See, for example, Robert A. Harris, The Integration of Faith and Learning: A Worldview Approach (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2004), and Paul D. Spears and Steven R. Loomis, Education for Human Flourishing: A Christian Perspective (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009).
  22. Currently InterVarsity Press publishes a Christian Worldview Integration series edited by J. P. Moreland, a philosopher at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology, and Francis Beckwith, a philosopher at Baylor University. There are, as of the time of this writing (sum-mer 2012), seven volumes in the series, on communication, business, literature, philosophy, education, political science, and psychology.
  23. See, for example, Richard T. Hughes and William B. Adrian, eds., Models for Christian Higher Education: Strategies for Success in the Twenty-First Century (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997).
  24. Wesleyan formulations include Philip W. Eaton, Engaging the Culture, Changing the World: The Christian University in a Post-Christian World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), and Daniel Castelo, ed., Holiness as a Liberal Art (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2012); note also that the predominant Anabaptist flavor of Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (Oxford: Oxford Univer-sity Press, 2004), is also suffused with a Wesleyan tinge. Coulter and I are working on a Pentecostal response (see note 2).
  25. See especially James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), and David I. Smith and James K. A. Smith, eds., Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011). See also Todd C. Ream, Jerry A. Pattengale, and David L. Riggs, eds., Beyond Integration? Inter/Disciplinary Possibilities for the Future of Christian Higher Education (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2012), for further reflections, partly in dialogue with Smith, about the need to explore Christian higher education beyond the integration model, especially with the turn to interdisciplinarity in scholarship.

    The point to be emphasized is not that there is or ought to be a diminishing emphasis on inculcating evangelical minds, but that the formation of heads, hearts, and lives has to be holistic, both in theory and in pedagogical and educational practice. In effect, evangelical schools have always recognized that there is more to higher education than the intellectual and cognitive dimensions suggested by the dominant research university model, and with the contemporary post-secular climate, religious institutions in general and evangelical ones in particular might be well-positioned to take a leading role in modeling and theorizing about what a full-orbed educational experience looks like.

    From the Facts-Values Distinction to the Renewal of Spiritual and Moral Formation

    This leads to our consideration of service. Historically this has involved faculty roles in department-, school-, or university-wide committees, or other ways in which faculty have contributed to their churches, local communities, or professional associations. I suggest that we think about these more mundane, if no less necessary, tasks of university life in terms of the values and goals of higher education that are intertwined with, rather than dissociated from, the quest for truth. For Christians, if not for people of religious faith, service involves the vocational outworking of their spiritual commitments and moral sensibilities. Hence service requirements, while a specified criterion for tenure and promotion consideration in many institutions, can be understood in part as an expression of the unified and holistically formed vocation.257As articulated in Michael Robert Miller, ed., Doing More with Life: Connecting Christian Higher Education to a Call to Service (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007).

  26. Julie A. Reuben, The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996).
  27. 9See, for example, Parker J. Palmer, To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), who argues that there ought to be a more cohesive blend of the head and the heart.
  28. J. P. Moreland, Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007).
  29. Leading the way are Douglas V. Henry and Michael D. Beaty, eds., The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education, Studies in Religion and Higher Education 4 (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007).
  30. This is the subtitle of the concluding chapter to Perry L. Glanzer and Todd C. Ream, Christianity and Moral Identity in Higher Education (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
  31. Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Teaching for Justice,” in Joel A. Carpenter and Kenneth W. Shipps, eds., Making Higher Education Christian: The History and Mission of Evangelical Colleges in America (St. Paul, MN: Christian University Press/Christian College Consortium, and Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), 201-216, at 209.
  32. Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom, xiii and xiv.
  33. See also Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, Educating for Life: Reflections on Christian Teaching and Learning, eds. Gloria Goris Stronks and Clarence W. Joldersma (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), part IV.
  34. Stanley Hauerwas, The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008); see also Michael L. Budde and John Wright, eds., Conflicting Allegiances: The Church-Based University in a Liberal Democratic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2004).
  35. What might come with a strong ecclesial identity is a more counter-cultural posture toward the broader culture, including academic culture; with weakened ecclesial ties, religious institutions are more liable to cultural accommodation – as noted by George Marsden in his review of Burtchaell’s lamenting the long history of institutional disestablishment from their churches: Marsden, “Dying Lights – Review Essay,” Christian Scholar’s Review 29:1 (1999): 177-181, esp. 180 – therein lies the tension.
  36. In Hauerwas, The State of the University, passim.
  37. 9See also Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades, Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), and James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield, Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money (Charlottesville, VA, and London: University of Virginia Press, 2005).
  38. See, for example, Alfred Rovai, The Internet and Higher Education: Achieving Global Reach (Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2009).
  39. See Joel Carpenter, “Christian Higher Education as a Worldwide Movement,” in Nick Lantinga, ed., Christian Higher Education in the Global Context: Implications for Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Administration (Sioux City, IA: Dordt College Press, 2008), 337-352.
  40. I discuss some aspects of the latter in my article, “Evangelical Paideia Overlooking the Pacific Rim: On the Opportunities and Challenges of Globalization for Christian Higher Education,” Christian Scholar’s Review (under review), while Coulter and I will also be addressing the challenges of virtual education in our Finding the Holy Spirit at the Christian University.
  41. Much of the research for this article was done while serving as an inaugural fellow at Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought in La Mirada, California, during the spring semester 2012. I am grateful to Center co-directors Gregg Ten Elshoff, Steve Porter, and Thomas Crisp for the invitation, as well as to Center assistant director Todd Vasquez and graduate assistant Evan Rosa for their assistance. Much appreciation is also due to dean Michael Palmer for granting physical leave from Regent for this opportunity, and to CSR reviews editor Todd Ream for wonderfully facilitating the article in so many ways. Last but not least, Todd Ream and his co-editor Perry Glanzer, Dale Coulter, and Vince Le provided feedback on a previous draft of this essay; but they are not to be held responsible for any errors of fact and interpretation that remain. Informal and formal conversations I had with my fellow colleagues Jonathan Anderson, Dariusz Bryćko, Brad Christenson, Natasha Du-quette, Elizabeth Hall, George Hunsinger, and Craig Slane touched on many of the topics discussed above and have informed this article variously.

Amos Yong

Fuller Theological Seminary
Amos Yong is Dean of the School of Theology and the School of Intercultural Studies, as well as Professor of Theology and Missions at Fuller Theological Seminary.