This week we present our first ever group post. Some of the FiSch Fellows, plus guest Alan Chettle, each give their response to a question that we asked ourselves:
“Who needs faith in scholarship?”
Just by starting a masters or PhD programme, you demonstrate a conviction that it’s worth devoting time to painstaking study of something about the world – God’s world. What’s more, we put great faith in scholars whose work we cite, often without knowing much about their deepest convictions and motivations. Here I wonder: are we trusting in the autonomy of pure reason to produce human knowledge, or in the common grace of our Lord to enable all kinds of people to discover God’s truth?
Mark: “Popular culture…”
Big ideas often trickle down from the academy to the wider cultural mainstream, and today’s polemical article or monograph becomes tomorrow’s (or next decade’s) social truism – especially in an age where the internet makes every intellectual a public intellectual (or at least potentially so). The voice of Jesus, that two-edged sword which exposes the truth, needs to be heard in this crucible of ideas.
Although it would be hubris to say that God needs us, throughout history God has at times used people to bring about his plans. In pursuing faithful scholarship, we rejoice in and care for his creation, and attempt (sometimes successfully) to bring healing and justice to a broken world. Faithful scholarship is part of the calling of the church to be an outpost of Christ’s kingdom, mediating God’s blessing to our university, our society, and the whole world.
A scholarship that has faith at its centre is one that is richly passionate about each of the gifts God has given us, and seeks to combine different insights, analysis and intellectual approaches so that the research done is much greater than the sum of its parts. A faith in partnership with scholarship is one that is cognisant of modern discourse, bringing all things under Jesus’ rule by asking probing questions of our own beliefs as well as the academic disciplines. Both are complementary ways to engage with the world, and everyone benefits when they work together under God.
Alan recently completed his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester. Now in Toronto, he’s about to begin an internship with the Canadian Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
Please add a comment to suggest more good ideas! Alan and Richard are meeting this week at the “Faculty and Research Students track” of the IFES World Assembly, and no doubt they’ll come away with more answers to the question.