Christian(s in) higher education
Ken Elzinga is the Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia and a board member for the Center for Christian Study. As a speaker at the Abilene Christian University centennial celebration, he recently addressed himself to this question: "What is the difference between Christians in higher education and Christian higher education?" An excerpt follows from an online version of this address. You may find the full text here.
Christians in higher education, at secular schools, can be placed in two different bins or categories. I’m not happy with the terms, but I’ll call one group the “privatizers” and the other, the “evangelicals"...
...Privatizers in higher education view their faith as disconnected from their work as professors. They are involved in a local church (often heavily involved); if they are married, they are probably faithful to their spouse; if they have children, they love their kids; and their names do not show up in the newspapers having done something that embarrasses their school.
But these professors, the privatizers, are not identified at their schools as Christians; this aspect of their identity may never be known by students or colleagues. Not that their faith is a deep or dark secret; they probably consider the information irrelevant. They are identified as professors of chemistry or accounting or German literature. That’s it. Their Christian faith is private and apart from their jobs.
These professors live in two worlds, not simultaneously, but sequentially: one is secular; that’s the campus; the other is sacred; that’s their church.
Now let me say, as an aside, that by my observation some Christian faculty at Christian colleges and universities live like privatizers as well. I have yet to decide whether this is sad, or scandalous, but they are not the subject of this discussion.
The second kind of Christian professor in higher education I’ll call the evangelical. The professors, researchers, and scholars in higher education I have labeled the evangelicals believe that the quest for truth begins and ends with Jesus. Their work involves teaching and research in their disciplines. But their calling entails extending the reign of Jesus into all realms.
The evangelicals resonate with the words of the Dutch Reformer Abraham Kuyper: “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me.’"...