JACKSON, Tenn. – June 1, 2004 – Where should your faith intersect with your work? This is the question Dr. Hal Poe proposes to answer for academicians in his book Christianity in the Academy: Teaching at the Intersection of Faith and Learning.
Poe is the Charles Colson professor of faith & culture and special assistant to the president at Union University.
The integration of faith and scholarship has long been discussed from a variety of sources. Poe named Charles Colson as one prominent figure advocating that Christians become engaged in scholarship, and the C.S. Lewis Foundation has been working since the mid-80s with Christian faculty, especially in secular settings. Christians “tend to be incognito” in the workplace, Poe said.
“In different books, articles and conferences, Christians are told that they ought to engage their scholarship as a Christian, but no one has really come up with a model for how you do that.
“Professors tend to be trained in a secular setting at major research universities so that secularism has become an assumption of their work because they’ve never seen how to do it any other way. Essentially, my book presents an approach for recovering a faith perspective for teaching and scholarship,” Poe said.
Union President David S. Dockery said “We congratulate Hal Poe on another important publication from his prolific pen. The world of higher education in the 21st century is filled with dizzy confusion. In the midst of this confusion is a most helpful voice for Christians who want to serve in the context of higher education. Hal Poe's wonderful book on the place of Christianity in the academy is a most welcome addition to the important literature of recent days by the likes of Marsden, Benne, Burtchaell, Holmes, and Hughes. Poe's thoughtful insights will certainly provide positive direction for academic leaders, faculty members, trustees, and students alike.”
In this work, Poe develops an idea he first put into print in his 1996 publication, The Gospel and its Meaning.
“Teaching from a faith perspective involves recognizing the implications of the Gospel in one’s own discipline,” Poe said. “In Christianity in the Academy, I take some of the more prominent of disciplines found in colleges and universities and illustrate how their concern relates to some aspect of the Gospel. It is a bare introduction but hopefully will jog people into seeing what some of the critical issues might be in their discipline.”
The book was premiered in March at the Soul of the University Conference at Baylor where all available copies sold out. Poe has high hopes for the book because it has such a large potential audience. He quoted Stan Matson of the C.S. Lewis Foundation who estimates that there as many as 50,000 Christian faculty members working in higher education in the United States. Students will also find the book to be a helpful resource as they consider how to integrate faith with their studies.
“I plan to use it in my courses,” Poe said. “Almost all of my courses deal with faith and culture in some way. The book arose out of my teaching so now I’ll use it as a text in my teaching.”