Baylor University
March/April 2005
Volume 1, Number 2

From the Director

Douglas HenryFinding the Tertium Quid for Faith and Learning

Embodying commitments true to Baylor University's mission, the Institute for Faith and Learning aims to cultivate "careful reflection, rigorous scholarship, and vital practice that substantively unite the life of the mind and the faith of Christians." By so doing, it embraces a confident and positive outlook regarding the relation between faith and reason.

Yet not everyone accepts the desirability of uniting intellectual life and Christian faith. Important challenges to sanguine perspectives about the unity of faith and reason abound, and they come from quarters within and without the church. Consider a few views from within the church. The second-century apologist, Tertullian, famously asked, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem, the Church with the Academy?" More resolutely, Martin Luther hyperbolically proclaimed reason to be the "Devil's greatest whore" and deemed reason as "the enemy of faith." Colloquially, I have encountered pious Christians who, learning of my academic credentials, issue cautions such as "I don't need no exegesis so long as I'm relying on me and Jesus," or "All the philosophy I need is in the Bible, and if you're good for anything at all, you won't speculate where the Good Book don't postulate." Thus, one challenge faced by those convinced of the unity of faith and reason is this: they must constitute a Christian intellectual community in the midst of a religious culture that sometimes looks askance at the life of the mind. That Christian scholars pursue understanding in its myriad forms not despite—but because of—faithful conviction is a point of which some Christian kindred need convincing.

Criticism also comes from sources outside of the church. Post-Enlightenment progressives imagine religious faith as a primitive, backwards liability that intellectual rigor and technological control over our destiny should supplant. For instance, the nineteenth-century Frenchman and social reformer, Auguste Comte, envisioned three stages of human development—theological, metaphysical, and positive—and saw open-ended potential for a world in which the positive knowledge of empirical methods wholly displaced superstitious religion. Comte's German near-contemporary, Friedrich Nietzsche, dismissed faith more brusquely, seeing faith and knowledge in deadly opposition: "Faith is not wanting to know what is true." Meanwhile, across the English Channel, Lord Bertrand Russell once put the point none too delicately himself:

The whole conception of God is . . . quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. . . . A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.

Thus, skepticism about reason inside parts of the church is matched by skepticism about faith among some outside of the church. Christian scholars in this way face a second challenge: they must constitute a Christian intellectual community in the midst of a larger academic culture often averse to scholarship shaped by Christian identity.

“The relation between faith and reason is as complex as are the modes of faith and learning, and thus the integration of faith and learning can never be reduced, caricature-like, to simple or formulaic terms.”

Yet, through the ages, Christians may be found who, rejecting dichotomies of intellectual life and Christian faith, have resolved to see faith and reason mutually enrich one another. Take Paul, for example, whose sermon to the Athenian philosophers does not condemn reason, but instead seeks to convert it, reorienting wisdom to the worship of God in Christ. Five centuries later, the Christian martyr Boethius, in the midst of exile and awaiting execution, found consolation in Lady Philosophy, reason's patron, who guided him gently into renewed faith in divine providence. At the beginning of the second millennium, Anselm praised intellectual life, putting it in the service of the love of God and making it an indispensable condition for the fullness of joy in heaven: "Doubtless they shall rejoice according as they shall love; and they shall love according as they shall know." And in the 1500s, rejecting Luther's extreme fideism, Erasmus exemplified a Christian humanism that acknowledged classical and Christian sources of wisdom, binding love of learning together with faithful fervor.

At the cusp of the third millennium, Baylor University stands on the shoulders of such giants in its commitment to a tertium quid that stands against all ruinous forms of breaking apart the unity of faith and reason. This tertium quid, or "third something," provides a distinct alternative to the problematic supposition that faith renders reason irrelevant and the misleading assumption that reason is sufficient apart from faith. Instead, we aspire to a better way, wherein faith and reason are united, and thus in which they cannot be divorced from one another without injury to each.

Yet that faith and reason comprise an indissoluble unity does not mean that easy, obvious benefits come from their union. The relation between faith and reason is as complex as are the modes of faith and learning, and thus the integration of faith and learning can never be reduced, caricature-like, to simple or formulaic terms. Seeing faith and reason together demands hard-won thought, discerning apprehension of the truth found amidst contested claims, and attention to the centuries-long witness of Christian reflection.

Nowhere more compellingly are these commitments articulated at Baylor than in the document called Baylor 2012:

We believe that the highest intellectual excellence is fully compatible with orthodox Christian devotion. Indeed, the two are not only compatible, but mutually reinforcing. Christian faith, at its best, motivates a love of all truth; and true knowledge supports and deepens our love of God in Jesus Christ. This is, at any rate, the undivided way and ancient premise on which Baylor ventures into the next ten years of our exciting history.

The Institute for Faith and Learning tangibly expresses Baylor's abiding convictions on these matters, gladly finds itself heir to an enduring Christian tradition wherein faith and learning enlarge one another, and daringly aspires to hand on to others the fullness of the Gospel's call.

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Recent Events

Brown Bag Luncheon Series

IFL recently welcomed two guest speakers to Baylor. On February 10, Naomi Schaefer Riley spoke at a Brown Bag Luncheon and to the Crane Scholars Program about her much acclaimed book, God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation are Changing America. Her book is the fruit of several years of on-site research at a number of colleges, including Brigham Young, Yeshiva, Notre Dame and Baylor. Her portrayal of Baylor is quite positive, and she offers grounds for belief and hope in Baylor 2012.

On February 24, IFL welcomed Dr. Ellen Charry from Princeton Seminary for a public lecture entitled "Can We Know God?" Dr. Charry offered a critical appraisal of modern, post-Kantian conceptions of knowledge, arguing that they deform both theology and the diverse branches of knowledge more generally, and that they leave modern universities ill-equipped to shape its members in the art of living well. In the place of these conceptions she outlined the prospects for a sapiential conception of wisdom, rooted in the wisdom, the logos, of God, which has the capacity to direct theological inquiry to its proper ends and potentially to order the other branches of knowledge into an intelligible unity.

2005 Art & Soul Festival

On April 7-9, IFL hosted the 2005 Art & Soul Festival. Art & Soul is a biennial conference that brings artist and scholars together from across the humanities to explore questions at the intersection of faith and the arts. This year's conference featured a number of prominent authors, artists, and scholars from the fields of literature, philosophy, history, theology, theatre, the visual arts and architecture. The guiding theme of this year's Art & Soul was "Divine Comedies: Humor Harmony and Redemption," and while there was a diverse array of presentations, two recurrent lines of exploration emerging from this theme were comedy taken as a sign of the theological virtue of hope and comedy as providing a clue to the providential structure of reality. Plenary speakers included Christopher Ricks, Jeremy Begbie, Phyllis Tickle, Leif Enger, Lauren Winner, and Kaye Gibbons.

John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture magazine and a presenter at Art & Soul, offers his reaction to the event at Author of Peace Like a River Leif Enger's presentation at the conference, "The Old Bat Makes Her Case," may be viewed online at

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Take Note

Vocation, Liberal Learning, and the Professions

May 16-20, IFL will convene a faculty retreat at Laity Lodge on the subject of the academic vocation: Vocation, Liberal Learning, and the Professions. Drs. David Solomon (University of Notre Dame), Susan Felch (Calvin College), and Karren Kowalski (Kowalski and Associates) will lead the retreat. The new faculty retreat is an excellent opportunity to become acquainted with faculty from across the university and to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogue. If you are a relatively new arrival at Baylor and have not yet participated in a new faculty retreat, please consider applying. Invitiations have already been sent, but you may also contact the IFL office.

Call for Papers: Christian Scholar's Review

Christian Scholar's Review, a journal jointly published by fifty ecumenically diverse church-related universities, is available free of charge to any member of Baylor University's faculty. The journal's gripping statement of purpose acknowledges that:

The Christian scholar, experiencing the redemptive love of God and welcoming the enriching perspective of divine revelation, accepts as part of his or her vocation the obligation not only to pursue an academic discipline but also to contribute toward a broader and more unified understanding of life and the world. This vocation therefore includes the obligation to communicate such an understanding to the Christian community and to the entire world of learning.
The Christian Scholar's Review is intended as a medium through which Christian scholars may cooperate in pursuing these facets of their tasks. Specifically, this publication has as its primary objective the integration of Christian faith and learning on both the intra- and inter- disciplinary levels. As a secondary purpose, this journal seeks to provide a forum for the discussion of the theoretical issues of Christian higher education. The Review is intended to encourage communication and understanding both among Christian scholars, and between them and others.

In addition to serving as a sponsoring institution for CSR, Baylor in recent years has been well represented among the journal's leadership, with Roger Olson (Truett Theological Seminary) as a former editor, Michael Beaty (Philosophy) as a former associate editor, Barry Hankins (History/Church State) as a current associate editor, and Douglas Henry (Great Texts/Philosophy) as a current editorial advisory board member.

For more information about receiving a free subscription to CSR, please contact Ms. Vickie Dunnam. For information directed toward prospective contributors to the journal, along with a complete call for papers, please visit the web site.

Traditio: An Interdisciplinary Theological Society

IFL is proud to support Traditio. Founded and chaired by Dr. Peter Candler, Assistant Professor of Theology in the Honors College, Traditio is a new, independent, and interdisciplinary theological society which seeks to promote the study of the Christian theological tradition within the community of scholarship of faculty and students. The main organ of the society is a faculty-student seminar, at which both graduate students and faculty members will present their research before their colleagues, mentors and students. In addition to drawing some of Baylor's accomplished scholars in theology, philosophy and their related sciences, the seminar will also provide a forum for graduate students to develop their own research through conversation with their peers and mentors. The seminar will meet 4-5 times per semester, and the presentations will be roughly evenly divided between faculty and students. The seminar is open to all faculty and graduate students at Baylor. For the remainder of the 2005 calendar year, Traditio will concentrate on the thought of Thomas Aquinas. The first two speakers were the Rev. Dr. Simon Oliver, from the University of Wales, Lampeter, and Dr. Eleonore Stump, of St. Louis University, a recognized expert in Aquinas studies and winner of the 2004 Robert Foster Cherry Award. For more information, send email to

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Conference Calendar

Upcoming at Baylor  

May 16-20, 2005

New Faculty Retreat (for Baylor faculty)
Vocation, Liberal Learning and the Professions
Laity Lodge, Texas
October 13-15, 2005

Medical Ethics Conference
Featuring Mark Cherry, Tristam Engelhardt, Jorge Garcia, Robert George, William May, Gilbert Meilaender, David Solomon, and others.
November 10-12, 2005

Pruit Memorial Symposium
Global Christianity: Challenging Modernity and the West
Featuring David Bebbington, Paul Freston, Mark Noll, Dana Robert, Lamin Sanneh, and Brian Stanley.

Upcoming beyond Baylor

June 8-11, 2005

Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
National New Faculty Workshop
John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
The CCCU national new faculty workshop aims to provide an introduction to foundational issues in relating the Christian faith to learning, an introduction to teaching from a Christian perspective, an orientation to contemporary Christian college students, and a conversation about balancing the demands of teaching, scholarship and service at a Christian college. For further details, visit the web site or inquire of Douglas Henry.
June 17-24, 2005

Collegium: A Colloquy on Faith and Intellectual Life
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts
July 24-August 6, 2005

C. S. Lewis Foundation
Making All Things New: The Good, True, & Beautiful in the 21st Century
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, England
August 3-7, 2005

Young Scholars in the Baptist Academy
Regent's Park College, Oxford, England
September 22-24, 2005

Spirituality, Justice and Pedagogy
Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan
February 9-11, 2006

Faith, Hope, and Work
Wesleyan Center, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California

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