Friday, December 30, 2005


I've remarked before that many of the things I say in this blog could get me beat up by my college self. Please don't tell him especially about the following - because I have been particularly impressed by what that one time symbol of oppressive Evangelical authority Duane Litfin has had to say about Christians in higher education:
"In communicating with his or her secular colleagues, what the Christian scholar is about, to use Lewis's terms, is a 'kind of transposition or adaptation from a richer to a poorer medium,' that is, a transposition from a fuller Christ-centered understanding that is charged with significance, to the secularist's more circumscribed understanding that may be strong on facts but weak on meaning" (spring '05).
Certainly that goes for Christians in a "secular" University, but how sad that such transposition is a skill Seminarians sometimes need develop as well.

But here's my favorite:
"What we in Christian higher education must articulate - precisely because it is so profoundly entailed in biblical Christianity - is a view of knowledge which avoids the pitfalls of both modernity and postmodernity. It refuses to capitulate to modernity's radical 'objectivist, disinterested onlooker conception of knowing' with its false claims to human certainty; but it also refuses to succumb to the radical subjectivism or perspectivism of postmodernity, with its equally bogus claims of humility.

A biblical stance requires something between these two extremes. We can make no claims of mastery or of an exhaustive, God-like knowing of anything. But neither should we relinquish all claims to genuine knowledge or truth. We seek instead the balance of that historic Christian understanding of knowledge which furnishes us not with 'certainty,' but with confidence; not 'sight,' but a genuine knowing that some things are so because God has disclosed them to us, and has made us creatures such that we are able to some degree to apprehend truly that disclosure, whether from revelation or through our own discovery" (winter '06).
Neither modern nor postmodern? I suppose it's too late now to halt Evangelical/Emergent infighting. But were it possible, those two paragraphs would make a nice recipe for a truce.