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July 16, 2001

Christian Scholarship Conference

The last 30 years have seen an amazing growth in Christian scholarship. Among the acknowledged leaders in that effort has been Calvin College.

In fact, in a cover story last fall for Atlantic Monthly, called "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind," author Alan Wolfe praised Calvin as a place where "evangelical scholars are writing the books, publishing the journals, teaching the students, and sustaining the networks necessary to establish a presence in American academic life."

A conference at Calvin in September will celebrate what's been done in Christian scholarship in recent decades. And it will look at ways in which faith-based reflection on societal issues can infiltrate even more of American culture.

Called "Christian Scholarship . . . for What?" the conference will be held September 27-29. Conference organizers expect some 300 attendees, representing institutions from around the world.

The title of the conference is a variation on Robert Lynd's provocative address to the American social science establishment in 1939: "Knowledge for What?"

Says Conference director Susan Felch (above): "The purposes of this conference are to reflect on the intrinsic value of Christian thinking, to attend to the need for shaping intellectual agendas in the twenty-first century, and to encourage faith-based reflection on issues in and beyond the Academy.

"In an age when education is often reduced to narrow professional training, faculty at liberal arts colleges are increasingly challenged to defend the life of the mind. The Christian tradition, with its broad understanding of vocation, has consistently maintained a strong link between knowing and doing. It is because we know, and are known by, God that we can think and work confidently and responsibly in this world. Rather than opposing theory and practice, we must continue to marry disciplined reflection with aggressive action; that is the very heart of Christian scholarship."

The conference will provide a venue for modeling faith-based scholarship and for encouraging its development among younger faculty.

The line-up of 150 speakers and presenters is impressive. There will be seven plenary addresses and a host of concurrent sessions.

Kicking off the conference on September 27 will be Fuller Theological Seminary president (and former Calvin professor) Richard Mouw, speaking on "Assessing Christian Scholarship: Where we've been and where we're going."

That evening "Christian Scholarship...for Whom?" will be presented by Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, Assistant Professor of Religious Education, Claremont School of Theology.

The next day will see three plenary addresses:

  • "Why Christian Scholarship Needs Story and Art" Marilynne Robinson, Professor of Creative Writing, Iowa
  • "Christian Scholarship and Human Responsibility" John Hare, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College
  • "Christian Scholarship and the Practice of Science" Sir John Polkinghorne, Former President, Queens' College, Cambridge University

The conference concludes with two plenary addresses on Saturday, September 29.

  • "Christian Scholarship and the Changing Center of World Christianity" with Kwame Bediako, Director, Akrofi-Christaller Memorial Centre for Mission Research and Applied Theology and a Professor of Theology, University of Natal at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • "Christian Scholarship with Whom: Across the Theological Boundaries," a panel discussion with professors from Goshen, Valparaiso, Hong Kong Baptist University and Notre Dame.

In addition, there will be some 50 concurrent sessions over three days on such topics as:

  • Christian Commitment in Graduate Studies at a Secular University
  • Christianity in the Marketplace
  • Political Discourse and the Task of Government: Nurturing Christian Citizens and Public Servants
  • Christian Scholarship and Gender Issues
  • Christian Scholarship and the History of Science
  • Christian Scholarship in the Field of Political Science: Its Nature and Purpose
  • Christian Scholarship and Alternative Therapies: Complementary or Incompatible?
  • Pilgrims on Planet Hollywood: Christian Scholarship and Popular Culture
  • The Problem of 'Catholic Scholarship'
  • Revisioning History in Christian Scholarship
  • Christian Environmental Stewardship...For What?
  • Christianity in the Public Square
  • African American Scholars in Higher Education
  • Christian Scholarship and Technology
  • Christian Scholarship for Economic Policy
  • The Place of Film Study in Higher Education
  • The View from the Launching Pad: The Next Generation of Christian Scholars

The Conference is being sponsored by Calvin College and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship in cooperation with Books & Culture, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., and the Overseas Ministries Study Center.

For more on the conference, see

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)