May/ June 2005
Volume 1, Number 3
Integrating Faith and Learning:
Beyond Caricatures to Constructive Models
A commitment to encourage the integration of Christian faith and intellectual life stands firmly in Baylor's core convictions and long heritage. Yet it is a contested, multi-faceted, and complex commitment that deserves careful scrutiny and implementation. We need constructive models of integration that go beyond the common caricatures and can usefully inform Christian scholarship and teaching.
Those who imagine that integrating faith and learning is something much less than it is — such as offering pious prayers in class, reciting Bible verses related to course content, or providing students spiritually sound advice — may wonder why so much is made of this matter. Yet while these are valuable and appropriate practices in some situations, they do not capture all that Baylor University stands behind in encouraging the integration of faith and learning.
The integration of faith and learning must be an ideal as rich and complex as the faith we profess and the disciplines we study. Consider the breadth and depth of the two relata: faith and learning.
Faith — "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" — certainly develops from many sources. This theological virtue, a gift from God, is received, nurtured, and rendered full only as we reflect on ourselves and the world in light of the Bible, Christian narrative, confessions and creeds, specific doctrines, ecclesial community, ethical teaching, and denominational emphases, to name a few. Consider how we might express our faith as we emphasize each of these resources in turn:
Our faith, which is mediated to us in these ways by God's providence, is more grand and substantial than simple pietism, Bible recitation, or spiritual advice. Thus, in "integrating faith and learning" we bring to bear on our scholarly vocation the fullness of Christian faith in all its simplicity and sophistication.
“...in ‘integrating faith and learning’ we bring to bear on our scholarly vocation the fullness of Christian faith in all its simplicity and sophistication.”
The other part of the "faith and learning" equation — learning — also has several levels:
The relationship between faith and learning in all these varied strands is complex, multifaceted, and often contestable. Colleagues of good will may reach different conclusions. Some academic disciplines may offer abundant opportunities for integrating faith and learning, for every source of faith impacts every level of learning in those disciplines. In other disciplines, fruitful integration takes a more focused and delimited form, perhaps only with Christian ethical teaching bearing on the uses to which expertise is directed.
Given the profundity of Christian faith and the expansiveness of the human mind, integrating faith and learning must not be formulaic, trite, or vapid. To the contrary, wholly faithful learning and learned faithfulness are the most exciting, fulfilling, and grand quests to which we may be committed.
IFL Awarded $83,500 Grant
The Lilly Fellows Program National Network of Church-Related Colleges & Universities recently announced that it has awarded an $83,500 grant to IFL as a part of the LFP's National Research Conference initiative. Baylor's conference will be held in the fall of 2006 in conjunction with the Pruit Memorial Symposium. The conference theme will be The World and Christian Imagination, and the conference will convene an international group of scholars from across the disciplines to consider how Christian faith might inform our understanding of the world. Grant funds will be used, among other things, to underwrite participation in the conference by scholars from National Network member institutions.
On May 16-20 at Laity Lodge, IFL hosted Vocation, Liberal Learning and the Professions, a retreat for Baylor faculty funded as a part of a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment and with the further support of the Howard E. Butt Foundation. The retreat enrolled 31 faculty members, including a strong contingent from the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. David Solomon, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture delivered two lectures, "Liberal Education: Liberation From What and For Whom" and "Autonomy and Medicine: Life After Liberation." Susan M. Felch, Professor of English at Calvin College delivered two lectures as well, "How the Christian Narrative Shapes Scholarship and Teaching?" and "Doubt and the Landscape of Delight: In Quest of Christian Liberal Learning." And Karren Kowalski, a national expert in the fields of acute and perinatal care, parental bereavement, and nursing leadership, spoke on "Calling and Leadership: The Importance of Character," and "The Practice of Storytelling: Understanding our Calling through Narrative."
Grant Opportunity Extended
In 2001, Baylor and IFL received a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment for Baylor Horizons: Called to Live, to Lead, to Serve, Baylor's version of Lilly's invitational grant initiative underwriting Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV). Because of Lilly's confidence in the good work done as a part of Baylor Horizons over the past five years, the University recently received an invitation to participate in a follow-up, $500,000 grant opportunity called Sustaining the Theological Exploration of Vocation. This new, half-million dollar program will help fund efforts begun under PTEV for three additional years, while recipient schools seek ways to make those programs self-sustaining. We express appreciation to the Lilly Endowment for its beneficent support of Baylor University and church-related higher education, its tremendous and important leadership in sustaining theological focus and substance within Christian higher education, and its willingness to consider a continued collaboration with Baylor on behalf of those aims.
Medical Ethics Conference
This October 13-15, in partnership with Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, IFL will host the first annual Baylor University Medical Ethics Conference, for the benefit of physicians, nurses, other health-care professionals, and members of the Baylor community. The conference will feature Robert P. George of Princeton University, Tristam Engelhardt of Rice University, Gilbert Meilaender of Valparaiso University, Jorge Garcia of Boston College, Mark Cherry of St. Edwards University, William F. May of Southern Methodist University, and David Solomon of the University of Notre Dame. Professors George, May, and Meilaender have served on the President's Council on Bioethics. With registration limited to one hundred participants, and with a nationally distinguished line-up of ethics consultants, the conference promises to be fully subscribed. For further information interested parties should see https://www.baylor.edu/IFL/mec/about.htm.
Pruit Memorial Symposium
The 2005 Pruit Memorial Symposium will be held November 10-12. The theme is Global Christianity: Challenging Modernity and the West. Plenary speakers include David Bebbington of the University of Stirling and Baylor, Paul Freston of Calvin College, Mark Noll of Wheaton College, Dana Robert of Boston University, Lamin Sanneh of Yale University, and Brian Stanley of the University of Cambridge. As of the May 15 proposal deadline, we have received a record number of inquiries and proposals, and anticipate that more than a hundred papers presented by scholars from around the world will be featured on the program. You may find up-to-date information about the program at https://www.baylor.edu/IFL/Pruit2005/about.htm.
Upcoming at Baylor
Upcoming beyond Baylor
"The foremost [of our assumptions] are that human decisions
"Therefore, Lord, I have not yet expressed or conceived how greatly your blessed ones will rejoice. They will indeed rejoice as much as they love, and they will love as much as they know."
Anselm of Canterbury
"In any case, the life of a Christian has meaning
“But when we do not see God, then we need to pray because we lack something, and to make ourselves open to Jesus.”
Julian of Norwich
"How can we investigate any part of any order of Knowledge,
John Henry Newman
If you encounter difficulty reading this newsletter as email, you may also view it on IFL's web site.