JACKSON, Tenn. – April 24, 2012 – A new book edited by Union University President David S. Dockery asserts that faith and learning need not be separated into two spheres that have no bearing on each other, as is often the case at church-related colleges and universities.
“We believe that there is a way that faith and learning come together, recognizing that faith bears upon learning and serves as a window for how teaching takes place,” Dockery said. “We believe that faith provides a resource for our understanding of all that is explored on a university campus. We wanted to try to show that authentic faith and genuine learning can be brought together in one place.”
That one place is “Faith and Learning: A Handbook for Christian Higher Education,” a book with chapters from several Union University faculty members writing about how the Christian faith should inform learning in a variety of fields, from the traditional arts and sciences to health care, engineering, social work, business and education.
“Hopefully it’s kind of a one-stop-shopping handbook that Christian college administrators, trustees, donors, parents, faculty, staff and students can use to think about a distinctive vision for Christian higher education,” Dockery said.
The first part of book deals with theological formation and understanding of faith, the gospel, worldview, ethical and moral reasoning and how it helps to form a philosophy of education. The second part of the book then moves into application in all the disciplines across the university life, with a final section providing application for teaching, student life and engaging the culture.
In the book’s preface, Dockery writes about the goal of bringing faith and learning together.
“We believe that the calling of Christian higher education is to reflect the life of Christ and to shine the light of truth,” he writes. “Our distinctive mission must not be forced into inappropriate either/or choices. We have chosen another course: the calling to be ‘both/and.’
“We reject those who call for us to create false dichotomies or to join together unrelated ideas in an irrationalistic pluralistic fashion,” he continues. “Instead, we offer this volume as a representation of our commitment to the ‘divine and’ grounded in Jesus Christ himself, who is both fully God and fully human and who is for us both light and life.”
Some of the contributors from Union include Gene C. Fant Jr., vice president for academic administration; Hunter Baker, associate dean of arts and sciences; Gregory Alan Thornbury, dean of the School of Theology and Missions; Jeannette Russ, professor of engineering; Emily Lean, assistant professor of business; Mary Anne Poe, professor of social work; and C. Ben Mitchell, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy.
In addition to the Union contributors, the book also includes chapters by Kenneth Magnuson, professor of Christian Ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Klaus Issler, professor of Christian education and theology at Biola University; and Kevin S. Trowbridge, instructor in public relations at Belmont University.
“‘Faith and Learning’ speaks clearly and with great insight to what I believe is the preferred future of Christian higher education,” wrote Jon Wallace, president of Azusa Pacific University, in an endorsement for the book. “David Dockery and 24 contributing authors have created a road map to a thriving and effective Christian university built on the foundation of our historic Christian intellectual tradition.”
The book, published by B&H Academic, is now available at LifeWay Christian Stores or at online retailers such as amazon.com.