The Intersection of Athens and Jerusalem: The Aims of Higher Education in a Christian University
During the second century of Christianity, a debate raged between two great theologians over the value of pagan philosophy to an understanding of Christian theology. Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165) believed that pagan philosophers had a measure of ultimate “Truth,” but needed a more complete understanding of that Truth which could only be provided by Christ. To the contrary, writing a generation later, Tertullian (c. 160-240) believed that the roots of many of the heresies of his day could be traced to the attempts to blend together pagan philosophy with Christian theology. In his De Praescriptione Haereticorum (Prescription Against Heretics), Tertullian proclaimed “What is there in common between Athens and Jerusalem? What between the Academy and the Church? What between heretics and Christians?”[i]
There is a sense in which a “Christian” university embodies an “intersection” between the academic world (Athens) and the Christian faith (Jerusalem). The modern discussion of the nature of Christian colleges and universities and the topic of “faith and learning” may be reminiscent of this debate so many centuries ago. For the last several decades a number of theologians and philosophers at Christian colleges and universities have been engaged in a discussion of how to bring the Christian intellectual tradition to the experience of learning in the academy. Does the Christian intellectual tradition speak to the academy of learning and can it have influence? I believe it can and does. While it is beyond the scope of my topic this morning to recount that discussion, it must be stated that there are literally thousands of pages of journal articles, books, and pamphlets devoted to this topic. I quickly discovered this as I first began preparing for this lecture. A Google Search on the topic “Christian University” turns up 1,660,000 hits.[ii]
The assignment given to me this morning is to delineate the “Aims of Higher Education at a Christian University.” I plan to do this by posing three questions: (1) What does it mean to be a Christian University? (2) What does it mean to be a Baptist Christian University? (3) What are the educational goals at a Baptist Christian University?
What Does It Mean to be a Christian University?
In an article entitled, “Christian Faith and the Life of the Mind,” Richard T. Hughes asks, “How is it possible for Christian colleges and universities to mature into absolutely first rate institutions of higher learning while, at the very same time, living out of the faith traditions that gave them birth?”[iii] How can the intersection of Athens and Jerusalem be implemented and what does that kind of university look like?
Perhaps it is best to approach the question by first recalling the public perception of a Christian university. Frequently, in the minds of many, including potential students, a Christian university is defined in terms of what it opposes. The definition of a Christian university that many have is a university that does not allow consumption of alcoholic beverages on campus, no co-ed dorms, no sexual activity outside of marriage and, at least for most Baptist universities of a generation ago (and some in the present!), no dancing, as well as a host of other rules.[iv] Furthermore, some perceive that a Christian university exists to shelter Christian students from the intellectual world rather than to encourage those students to interact with it in a meaningful way.
Now, please don’t think that I want to say that rules do not matter. I think they do. I believe that abuse of alcohol by students on college campuses is one of the critical problems that exist on college campuses today. And, for a variety of reasons, I believe that co-ed dorms are not a good idea. Furthermore, as one who believes in the sanctity of marriage, I do not encourage sexual experimentation outside of marriage. Now dancing, well, I don’t know. I’ll only admit that I do “cut a rug” every now and then and never feel like I am sinning!
Scholars studying this question longer than I have developed some very good definitions of a Christian university. Robert Benne defines a “Christian university” as one “in which the Christian heritage is publicly relevant to the central endeavors of the college [or university].”[v] He argues further that such universities must maintain vigilant concern for three elements of the Christian tradition: its vision, its ethos (including public worship and lifestyle), and personnel committed to the Christian tradition.[vi]
Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College, adds to the discussion in an article entitled, “The Call to Be a Distinctively Christian University.” He begins by arguing that “Distinctively Christian” means to go beyond merely a personal understanding of the Atonement of Christ to a “fuller vision, the vision of Jesus Christ as Lord.”[vii] Furthermore, he argues, “until we arrive at this level of thinking, what we’re doing may be factually sound and even generically theistic, and therefore truly within the circle of what a Christian does think. But it will not yet be distinctively Christian.” This vision of a “distinctively” Christian university, “leads directly to the awareness that He is the One, the only One, who can serve as the centerpiece of an entire curriculum, the One to whom we must relate everything and without whom no fact, no theory, no subject, no practice can be fully appreciated.”[viii]
Where does Campbell University fit in its self-understanding of the nature of a Christian university? If you haven’t read Campbell University’s “Statement of Purpose” I suggest you do so. It is a very fine statement and serves as the foundational theological document for our university. Several components of the “Statement of Purpose” are pertinent to this discussion. The third paragraph reads:
The purpose of Campbell University arises out of three basic theological and Biblical presuppositions: learning is appointed and conserved by God as essential to the fulfillment of human destiny; in Christ, all things consist and find ultimate unity; and the Kingdom of God in this world is rooted and grounded in Christian community.[ix]
Furthermore, the Statement says that as a university, we commit ourselves to a variety of endeavors for our students. The most significant of these (related to our discussion here) reads: “Bring the Word of God, Mind of Christ, and Power of the Spirit to bear in developing moral courage, social sensitivity, and ethical responsibility that will inspire a productive and faithful maturation as individuals and as citizens. . . . [and] Affirm the University’s commitment to the belief that truth is never one-dimensional but in wholeness is revelatory, subjective, and transcendent as well as empirical, objective, and rational, and that all truth finds its unity in the mind of Christ.”[x]
A good scriptural reference which illustrates this Christ-centered concept of the Christian university is Colossians 1:15-17:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NRSV)
Of particular importance in this passage is the last phrase, “in him all things hold together.” A Christian university should be built around this Christ-centered supposition.[xi]
Practically speaking, what should such a Christ-centered university be like? Does this mean that all faculty and staff must be Christian? Does this mean that all students must be Christian? Does it mean that the university espouses certain public positions on the issues of the day such as stem cell research, abortion, gay rights, war and peace, hunger, and any other “hot button” issues in the headlines today? Undoubtedly, there are many who would answer “yes” to all of those questions. However, influencing the “culture wars” is not the most important task of a Christian university as Ralph C. Wood argued here at our university last year. He said, “It is ever so important not to confuse Christian education with taking a position within the culture wars.”[xii]
I would suggest that the picture of a Christ-centered university could be defined much more simply. Plainly speaking, a Christ-centered university should follow the way of Jesus which can be summarized in three concepts: (1) hospitality; (2) servanthood; (3) compassion.
Jesus was hospitable to everyone. He welcomed Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, the sick and the healthy into his presence.[xiii] Not only did he welcome everyone into his presence but he genuinely respected them. How does this happen in the Christian university? My colleague, Dr. Kathy Lopez has articulated this concept very well:
If I think of my academic, intellectual life as a home, a home that has nurtured me a place to be and to thrive, then, as a Christian who has been offered a home in Christ, I must also understand my intellectual home to be a gift. . . . When I teach a class, I am inviting my students into my home; the place where I have found truth and beauty, nurture and meaning, as well as challenge and disorder. . . . As we practice hospitality, everyone must be given a place at the table, not in a way that it is often practiced in our (secular) academic communities, a sort of anything goes which leads to no meaning whatsoever but is merely a freedom from any sort of constraint. Rather we must give everyone a place at the table in such a way that each one of us may have a voice. Only then will each of us have the space to be free and to grow in knowledge, in participation with our Baptist tradition, and in the practice of the Christian virtues.[xiv]
The principle of hospitality relates to the way that we as faculty and staff treat students. In a Christian community we are called to treat students with respect, dignity and courtesy. In return, for this to be a true community, they need to give us the same measure of respect. Campbell University can be a better Christian university if we practice the principle of Christian hospitality.
A second trait which characterizes the life and ministry of Christ is servanthood. In Matthew 20, the scripture reveals an uncharacteristic occurrence of dissension among the disciples. The mother of James and John came to Jesus and requested that “these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” She was asking for some type of special prominence for her sons in Christ’s kingdom. This made the other ten disciples angry. In the midst of this context about prominence and greatness, Jesus made this declaration:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.[xv]
Because of its Christ-centeredness, servanthood should be a principle encouraged and embodied in a Christian university. Goshen College, a Mennonite college in Goshen, Indiana, has a wonderful statement about servant leadership which serves as a great model for this concept.
We believe that servant leadership is reflected perfectly in the life and person of Jesus Christ. We humbly set aside self-interest for the interests of others, because love for others builds up God’s community. By following Christ’s example, we create a culture characterized by joyful service.[xvi]
The story in John 8 of the woman taken in adultery is one of the most compassionate images of Jesus that can be found in the Gospels. When he asked for the first stone to be thrown by anyone who had no sin they all dropped their stones and went away. However, his compassion is seen in his words with this woman at the end of the passage:
Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”[xvii]
Is it possible for a Christian university to embody such compassion toward our students? I believe that if we are going to be true to our claims that we are a Christian university, our faculty, administration and staff must embody this principle in our relationships with each other and with our students. As the principle translates into the university setting it becomes much more than forgiveness. I believe that the principle of compassion informs the very nature of how we relate to each other in this university community. As faculty advisors, we should take an active interest in our students. We should take seriously the academic responsibility of advising students. However, we need to be a friend as well. We need to recognize that there may be times that we are called upon to “minister” to our students or to each other. “What would Jesus do?” is not a bad question for all of us to ask ourselves as we relate to each other in this university community.
I believe that Campbell University will be a better Christian university if all employees (both faculty and staff) and our students resolve to pattern their lives after the Christ-like traits of hospitality, servanthood, and compassion.
What Does It Mean to be a Baptist, Christian University?
Is it sufficient for a university simply to be defined as “Christian” without any sectarian designation? A number of scholars have argued that for a Christian university to resist complete secularization it must retain a certain sectarian quality. George Marsden, in his The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief, chronicles how secularization has prevailed over many of the private and public universities and colleges in America. Furthermore, he argues that such universities, originally established by major Christian denominational traditions, underwent an evolutionary process toward secularization, the first step of which was the move toward a nonsectarian or “generic” Christianity.[xviii]
Elizabeth Newman, describing the same process, indicated that many of these universities by the late nineteenth century began to resist identification as sectarian. Consequently, this “anti-sectarian rhetoric in the academy often had the effect of distancing Protestant educators from their own religious commitments with the result that such commitments eventually became invisible.”[xix]
In the same vein of thought, Roger Ward indicates that “staying Christian means staying denominational. Efforts to create a ‘mere Christian’ college have not worked. The institutions that retain a vital connection with their denomination have had the most success at remaining Christian institutions.”[xx]
My colleague, Dr. Steve Harmon, drawing from Robert Benne’s typologies of church-related schools, argues that the best scenario for a Christian university would be for a “critical-mass” of that school’s denominational tradition to be present on the campus but that faculty, staff, and students from other traditions are welcomed and become vital contributors to the common experience. Harmon continues:
The faculty in a Baptist “critical-mass” university, for example, needs to hear from Presbyterian, Catholic, Orthodox, or Pentecostal colleagues in various disciplines their perspectives on the significance of their own Christian traditions for the life of the mind. At the same time, the presence of a “critical mass” of faculty members from the sponsoring tradition will help the denominational college to offer a public account of the unique contributions of a particular denominational telling of the Christian story to the intellectual life of the larger body of Christ.[xxi]
The evidence suggests that for a Christian university to remain true to its Christian heritage it must maintain a commitment to its sectarian sponsoring tradition.
Does the historic Baptist tradition provide its colleges and universities the proper tools necessary for resisting secularization? Several contemporary scholars believe not. Robert Benne argues, “Baptists simply do not have much of a theological heritage, although they certainly carry certain Baptist themes—religious liberty, soul competency, church-state separation—that accompany their classical evangelical beliefs. What will supply that theological tradition to make the integration of faith and learning fruitful?”[xxii] On a similar note, Evangelical historian Mark Noll, although admitting his own “ignorance” of the Baptist tradition in higher education, nevertheless, argues that it has “special difficulty when it comes to . . . requirements for Christian learning—the full, discerning appropriation of the Christian intellectual tradition and an appropriately discerning engagement with modern thought.”[xxiii] Furthermore, he questions whether “Baptist perspectives—which are so localistic in principle, so determinedly anti-traditional in their biblicism, and so wary of creedal definition—can ever contribute as much in intellectual life as they do to community Christian life on the ground.”[xxiv] Although he does recognize some positive qualities about the Baptist tradition for Christian higher education, Noll essentially dismisses its potential largely due, in my opinion, to a misunderstanding of it.[xxv]
As a Baptist, I disagree with Benne and Noll. Furthermore, as a Baptist historian, I believe they are simply wrong and do not possess an accurate understanding of Baptist contributions to Christian higher education. Interestingly, Richard T. Hughes, a non-Baptist, articulates an argument that contradicts Benne and Noll. After examining the essential characteristics and qualities of Christian universities from the Reformed, Anabaptist, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran traditions he argues persuasively that the traditional Baptist commitment to “soul competency” gives Baptist colleges and universities “some of the strongest resources for sustaining the life of the mind that one could possibly imagine.”[xxvi] But, he warns,
if Baptist colleges and universities hope to find, in their own rich tradition, resources that can sustain the life of the mind, they must allow the traditional Baptist notion of soul competency to function, not so much as a shibboleth, or even as a traditional Baptist formulation, but rather as a window that can open widely on the rich theological resources to which all Baptists are heir.[xxvii]
I believe that there are significant theological resources undergirding the Baptist tradition. What are those theological resources? Hughes indicates that the Baptist theological tradition is unique because it draws from all three of the major Protestant traditions and developed a century later than the Protestant Reformation. Consequently, from the Reformed tradition Baptists developed the notion that the soul is competent before God and free from human coercion because of God’s sovereignty. From the Lutheran tradition, Baptists developed the idea of soul competency because of our justification by grace through faith. “We are therefore free to take intellectual risks, to explore the outer limits of human knowledge, and even to confess that we may be wrong.”[xxviii] And from the Anabaptist tradition, the Baptist concept of soul competency gives emphasis to the importance of discipleship and obedience to God. Soul competency, therefore, “is a doctrine of enormous power, a window onto some of the richest resources of the Protestant Reformation, and for all these reasons, perhaps the most potent intellectual resource that is available to any group of church-related institutions.”[xxix]
Baptist heritage finds another theological resource in the pre-Reformation catholic tradition—“catholic” with a lower-case “c.” In an article titled “Baptist Confessions of Faith and the Patristic Tradition,” Steve Harmon has argued for “continuities” between this early catholic tradition and early Baptist theology. He shows that early Baptist confessions of faith clearly “echo” the trinitarianism of Nicea and Constantinople as well as Chalcedonian Christology.[xxx] Therefore, Baptist heritage (at least in its first century) was clearly connected to the larger Christian theological tradition and is not just a further development of Reformation theology.
Campbell University is unapologetically Baptist. It was founded in 1887 by James Archibald Campbell, a Baptist pastor. All four of its presidents have been committed Baptists actively serving in North Carolina Baptist life. All of the trustees of the university have been committed North Carolina Baptists, and each trustee (at least at the present time) is appointed to his or her term by vote of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. All of the major administrators at Campbell University are committed to the Baptist tradition. Every professor in the divinity school and religion department and every professor teaching religion adjunctively at one of our extended campus programs are required to be Baptist. Approximately 50-60% of our student body identifies themselves as Baptist. Furthermore, each year the Baptist State Convention contributes more than $1 million to student scholarships, a sign of its continued partnership with Campbell University. Finally, our campus is bordered by two Baptist churches, both of which are deeply committed to enhancing and ministering to the university community. No doubt, Campbell University has a long tradition of partnership with the Baptist denomination.
What then, should this Baptist university look like? Does commitment to the Baptist tradition mean that Campbell should strive for a student body that is 100% Baptist? Does it mean that the administration should encourage every faculty member and every staff employee to belong to a Baptist church? Does it mean that our General College Curriculum religion course requirements should be changed to force all students to take a course in the Baptist tradition? Should we attempt to proselytize our non-Baptist students into the Baptist denomination? Obviously, the answer to these questions should be “no.”
So, how then does Campbell University maintain not only its “Christianness” but also its “Baptistness?” Richard T. Hughes provides a good answer to this question. He says that the desired answer should be:
It means that here, at this place, we are free to search and inquire and explore and raise the most difficult and even the most threatening kinds of questions because God alone is sovereign, because we are justified by grace through faith, and because we are convinced we must obey God rather than [humans]. . . . We believe these things because we are Baptists who hold most dearly the principle that every soul is competent to read the Scripture and discern the truth for himself or herself, and live out that truth as he or she sees fit.[xxxi]
A Baptist, Christian university therefore should be a place where there is genuine freedom of inquiry into any academic question that may arise. A Baptist, Christian university should be committed to academic excellence, always willing to engage the best of the academic world with the best scholarship formed from the Christian tradition. A Baptist, Christian university should be a place where each person in the community, student, faculty, and employee is not just allowed, but encouraged to encounter the Christian faith in the best sense of what the treasured Baptist doctrine of soul competency implies.
What are the Educational Goals at a Baptist, Christian University?
Given that Campbell University makes claim to be a Baptist, Christian university, what is our educational vision for our students? Aside from the obvious answer that we want our students to be educated in their chosen field so that they can be competitive in the job market in their chosen professions, I believe there are some deeper values that we would or should like to see developed in our students. Since my field is Baptist history, I would like to lift from the Baptist tradition four individual heroes who embody a particular kind of value that I think ought to be developed in our students.
Roger Williams—Lover of Freedom
Although Roger Williams was only a Baptist for a few months, Baptists still claim him as one of our great heroes. He was the founder of the very first Baptist church on American soil, the First Baptist Church of Providence. Even beyond the Baptist tradition, Roger Williams was a great hero of the American tradition. I believe that his life embodies a value that I would like for all our students at Campbell to acquire. He was a lover of freedom.
In the winter of 1631, Roger Williams arrived at Massachusetts Bay from England. Almost from the time he disembarked from the ship he came into conflict with the Puritan establishment there. Although Williams had become a Puritan before he left England, after an intensive study of the New Testament aboard the ship, he became convinced that the Puritans should separate formally from the Church of England. In other words, Williams’ understanding of the church was much more radical than the Puritan leaders in his new home. Furthermore, Williams became very outspoken in defense of Native American rights. He complained that the Puritans had stolen from the Native Americans rather than purchased the land that they inhabited. Finally, and most importantly, he argued against the Puritan establishment that they had no authority over the individual consciences of the inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay. Ultimately, in 1635 Williams and his family were banished from the colony into the wilderness. Had it not been for his relationship with the Native Americans to the south of Massachusetts Bay who sheltered Williams and his family, they might not have survived.
The following year Williams purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and through contacts back in England, secured a charter for a new colony in America. He called it “Providence” (later called Rhode Island). It was the most unique of all the colonies because it was established on the basis of democracy and complete religious freedom for all people. Williams loved freedom so much, and valued freedom of conscience so much, that he was willing to grant such to all who came to his new colony. In his most famous treatise on religious freedom, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution (1644), Williams declared, “it is the will and command of God that . . . a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-Christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries, and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only, in soul matters, able to conquer . . . the sword of God’s Spirit, the Word of God.”[xxxii]
Rhode Island became known as a colony that granted freedom where everyone, regardless of belief, was allowed to come and participate. Although Williams disagreed strongly with others in the area of religion (particularly Quakers) he did not persecute them nor forbid them a place in Rhode Island. Williams was ahead of his time. No one of his day would have ever believed that a century and a half later, when the Constitution of the United States was written, the concept of religious establishment, practiced in Massachusetts Bay, would give rise to Rhode Island’s liberty of conscience and separation of church and state model.
What would I like for students at Campbell University to emulate from the life of this short-timer Baptist? I would like to see Campbell University students develop the same love for freedom of conscience and a willingness to grant it to all. Several years ago we had an international student here on our campus from the Muslim tradition. He was a very fine student and became a friend of mine. He came to see me one day complaining about how several students had treated him. In their zeal to convert my friend to Christianity, they forgot the importance of Christian hospitality and most importantly, they did not respect my friend for his beliefs. I would like for the students at Campbell University to be secure in their own beliefs but at the same time be open and hospitable to others who may have different beliefs.
William Carey—Global Vision
British Baptist William Carey represents a second value that I believe would benefit our students at Campbell University. William Carey’s dream to carry the Gospel of Christ beyond the shores of England to other parts of the world exemplified a global vision. From the time that he was a child listening to his sailor uncle recall tales from other lands, to the time when as a pastor he challenged the Northampton Baptist Association to organize a missionary society, William Carey thought beyond the borders of his native England.
In 1787, Carey, a young Baptist pastor, proposed a question for debate at a ministers’ meeting in the Northampton Baptist Association: “whether the command given the apostles to teach all nations was not binding on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world.” The aged and revered Dr. John Ryland, said to Carey, “sit down young man. You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me.”[xxxiii] Carey obeyed, but his heart’s concern for people in other parts of the world did not die.
Five years later in 1792, Carey preached the annual sermon for the Northampton Baptist Association. His sermon had two points: “expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” As the meeting was about to close following his sermon, Carey tugged on the coattails of Andrew Fuller who was about to give the benediction. Carey said, “Oh, sir, is nothing to be done? Is nothing again to be done?” There followed a discussion out of which the Baptist Missionary Society was born. Before long, Carey’s dream was a reality as he was sent to India to carry the Gospel of Christ.[xxxiv]
I am continually impressed by the desire to travel internationally that I see in many of our students. I believe that desire needs to be encouraged. I would like to see our university create a strong study abroad program. In fact, it would be highly beneficial if each student, during their four years at Campbell University, had the opportunity to study abroad as part of their course of study. I believe we would all benefit from such a program. In our world today we hear talk of “global community” and “global economy.” Information now travels around the world in a matter of seconds rather than months. Our students need to develop a global vision.
Walter Rauschenbusch—Social Conscience
The name most frequently associated with the Social Gospel movement at the beginning of the twentieth century in America is the German Baptist pastor and church historian, Walter Rauschenbusch. In 1886 Rauschenbusch became the pastor of the Second German Baptist Church in a section of New York City called “Hell’s Kitchen.” Known for its poverty, crime, and general misery, Rauschenbusch saw human suffering first-hand among his parishioners, and this experience had a monumental impact on his thought. At the end of the nineteenth century, within Protestant circles, the traditional strategy for the betterment of society was revivalism. Rauschenbusch was raised on this concept. His father, also a German Baptist pastor, and most of his fellow German Baptists, believed that if the Gospel is preached and people experienced salvation, the Kingdom of God would be inaugurated through revivalism. It was, however, Rauschenbusch’s encounter with the misery of tenement living, the horrible working conditions in the factories, the unchecked crime on the streets, the corruption of city officials, and the generally oppressed lives of his church members that caused an awakening within him which led to a new concept of how to better society. Though he never lost his commitment to personal evangelism, his emphasis began to focus on ways to change the structures of society. This shift in Rauschenbusch’s philosophy became the heart of the Social Gospel Movement, and he became its most recognized spokesperson.[xxxv] In 1907 Rauschenbusch published Christianity and the Social Crisis which became a bestseller and gave rise to the Social Gospel Movement. The reader of Christianity and the Social Crisis can easily see that Rauschenbusch had a passionate concern for change within the economic system and society in general. Speaking with the thunderous voice of a prophet, Rauschenbusch declared, “If the Church tries to confine itself to theology and the Bible, and refuses its larger mission to humanity, its theology will gradually become mythology and its Bible a closed book.”[xxxvi]
Rauschenbusch had a passion for social justice. He believed that a person had not truly experienced salvation if the Gospel did not motivate a Christian to make a practical difference in the world by helping to ease suffering people. His passion for suffering people in the world is a value that I would like to see all our students at Campbell University develop. As you love and respect freedom of conscience, and as you develop a global vision for the world, inevitably you should recognize the suffering of many people around the world. There are literally millions of people around the world who go to sleep hungry every night. Many do not even have shelter over their heads. There are children around the world dying from terrible diseases such as AIDS. Cruel dictators terrorize their own people in many nations around the world. Clearly, our world is hurting. I believe that our students should recognize that they can make a difference in this world!
Martin Luther King, Jr.—Following the Dream
One of the greatest citizens of the twentieth century was a Baptist pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr. His life embodies the final value that I would like to see developed in our students. King was a dreamer. In the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the greatest speeches in American history, King said:
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.[xxxvii]
King was a dreamer who worked to make his dream happen. And, although he did not live to see it come to fruition, the dream continues today and has been realized by scores of people in the African-American community.
I would hope that when our students graduate from Campbell University, they would have the capacity to dream. I would like for them to see the needs in the world and dream of how things could be. And then I would like for them to believe so strongly in their dream that they would be willing to spend their life pursuing it.
Recounting the educational goals of Campbell University’s founder, James Archibald Campbell, historian J. Winston Pearce says, “The purpose of the student’s presence in the school was that he [she] might learn and that he [she] might be prepared, first, to make a life and, second, to make a living—both, but in that order.”[xxxviii] One hundred, seventeen years has passed since the founding of this institution, and if Dr. Campbell were to see the campus today, he’d hardly recognize it for the growth that has occurred under the three presidents succeeding him. But, some things have remained the same. Campbell University still has a commitment to work intentionally at being a Christian university. The university also remains devoted to its Baptist denominational roots. Finally, the students remain paramount in the life of this school. And our aim is that our students be prepared for life and career. Twenty centuries ago two great theologians debated about the value of intersecting Athens and Jerusalem. I contend that such an intersection provides our students the best preparation for life.Endnotes
[i] Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd Edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1963): p. 6.
[ii] Several important works on this topic are: James T. Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998); Richard T. Hughes and William B. Adrian, eds., Models for Christian Higher Education: Strategies for Success in the Twenty-First Century (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997); Robert Benne, Quality With Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith With Their Religious Traditions (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2001); George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994).
[iii] Richard T. Hughes, “Christian Faith and the Life of the Mind,” in Faithful Learning and the Christian Scholarly Vocation, ed. by Douglas V. Henry and Bob R. Agee, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003): p. 3.
[iv] It is worth noting that the largest Baptist university in the world, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, allowed its first dance on campus just one decade ago.
[v] Benne, p. 6.
[vi] Ibid, pp. 6-8.
[vii] Duane Litfin, “The Call to Be a Distinctively Christian University,” The Southern Baptist Educator 68 (Third Quarter, 2004): p. 4 (Emphasis is the author’s).
[viii] Ibid, p. 8.
[ix] “Statement of Purpose,” Campbell University. Campbell University Bulletin Undergraduate Studies, 2003-2005, p. 17. (Also found at http://www.campbell.edu/catalog/03_05/gen_info.html#Statement)
[x] Ibid, p. 17-18.
[xi] See Litfin, p. 4 and Martin E. Marty, “The Church and Christian Higher Education in the New Millennium,” The Southern Baptist Educator 64 (Third Quarter, 2000): p. 3.
[xii] Ralph C. Wood, “An Alternative Vision for the Christian University” (unpublished address to the faculty of Campbell University, Buies Creek, North Carolina, March 30, 2004), quoted in Steven R. Harmon, “Contesting Our Story: Narrative, and Communal Conflict in the Postmodern Christian University,” unpublished paper presented to the Baylor University Institute for Faith and Learning conference on “Christianity and the Soul of the University: Faith as a Foundation for Intellectual Community,” Waco, Texas, March 25-27, 2004, p. 3.
[xiii] I like the “Goshen College Commitment to Community Standards” statement on “A Spirit of Hospitality.” See http://www.goshen.edu/aboutgc/community.php.
[xiv] Kathy Muller Lopez, unpublished article, n.p., n.d., pp. 1-3. For a fuller discussion on hospitality in a Christian university, see Elizabeth Newman, “Hospitality and Christian Higher Education,” Christian Scholar’s Review 33:1 (Fall, 2003): pp. 75-93.
[xv] Matthew 20:20-28 (NRSV).
[xvi] Goshen College, “Core Values.” (http://www.goshen.edu/aboutgc/values.php).
[xvii] John 8:3-11 (NRSV).
[xviii] Marsden, pp. 3-9. Benne, p. 4 uses the term “generic Christianity” while discussing Marsden’s thesis.
[xix] Elizabeth Newman, “Beyond Faith Versus Knowledge: Religious Commitment in the Academy,” Perspectives 23 (Winter 1996): p. 411.
[xx]Roger Ward, “Reclaiming Church Relatedness for Higher Education,” The Southern Baptist Educator 64 (Fourth Quarter, 1999): p. 7. It should be recognized however, that Wheaton College is not connected to a denomination. However, it is closely tied to the American Evangelical movement. See Benne, pp. 73-78.
[xxi] Harmon, p. 16. Benne’s four typologies for church-related schools are “Orthodox,” “Critical-Mass,” “Intentionally Pluralist,” and “Accidentally Pluralist.” See Benne, p. 49.
[xxii] Benne, p. 115.
[xxiii] Mark Noll, “Christian Higher Education and Southern Baptists: Hopeless or Hopeful?” The Southern Baptist Educator 68 (First Quarter, 2004): p. 4.
[xxiv] Ibid, p. 6.
[xxv] See, for example, his comments about positive signs in Baptist higher education during the last 25 years. Ibid, pp. 8-10.
[xxvi] Hughes, p. 20.
[xxviii] Ibid, p. 21.
[xxx] Steven R. Harmon, “Baptist Confessions of Faith and the Patristic Tradition,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 29 (Winter, 2002): p. 349. See also Philip E. Thompson, “A New Question in Baptist History: Seeking a Catholic Spirit Among Early Baptists,” ProEccl 8 (Winter, 1999): pp. 51-72.
[xxxi] Ibid, 22.
[xxxii] Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, ed. by Richard Groves, (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2001): p. 3.
[xxxiii] H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987): p. 185.
[xxxv]Paul M. Minus, Walter Rauschenbusch: American Reformer (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988): pp. 83-101 for a discussion of Rauschenbusch’s intellectual development on this issue.
[xxxvi] Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis, (New York: The Macmillian Company, 1907): p. 339.
[xxxvii] Roger Lundin and Mark A. Noll, eds., Voices from the Heart: Four Centuries of American Piety, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987): p. 358.
[xxxviii] J. Winston Pearce, Campbell College: Big Miracle at Little Buies Creek, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976): p. 27.