University should glorify God through academic excellenceSept. 17, 1996
Said an English poet and Christian philosopher, 'All knowledge that begins not, and ends not, in God's glory is ignorance.' The Holy Wars inspired by the so-called catholic knowledge: was this to the glory of God? They thought so, yet killing for the sake of homogeneity is not to the glory of God, as poignantly demonstrated throughout history by various religious and political sects. Nor, on an institutional level, does the purging of individuals holding beliefs that, though devoted to God, run counter to the interpretation of those in power.
As a junior faculty at a Christian university I often ask myself what is to the glory of God in terms of a university. Does mediocrity in name of religion bring glory to God? Is becoming the best 'Christian' university, the apparent vision of the current administration, a vision which conveniently eliminates any real competition and hence guarantees its own fulfillment, to the glory of God? Or is being among the nation's best, nay world's best, institutions of academic learning that draws its motivation from the fountain of God's love and greatness, that excels not in spite of its Christianity but because of it, that constantly strives to improve upon itself to produce graduates that will become not average citizens in an average world, but outstanding leaders and performers in a world in desperate need of those who will take pride in all facets of their lives, to the glory of God?
The day that this university becomes nothing more than a college training camp breeding homogeneity of thought, word, and deed among faculty, administrators and students, will be the day that this university sacrifices academic excellence for the appearance of religious unity; a concomitant of such sameness will be a depletion of the intellectual rigor and freedom that produces greatness among academic institutions. That will be the day that Baylor ceases to glorify God with academic excellence.
I, for one, believe that God does not call Christians to strive to be the best in their field among Christians, but that God calls Christians to excel -- not just spiritually, but intellectually and professionally as well so that when asked, 'Why do you thrive? What motivates such passion for excellence,' we may respond, 'We do all to the glory of God, for 'all knowledge that begins not and ends not in God's glory is ignorance'.'
Dr. Leidner is an assistant professor in the information systems department of the Hankamer School of Business.
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