CONTACT August 1999 ---- Vol. 11, No. 1
In his greetings at the opening of the St. Petersburg Regional Conference, Dr. John B. Hulst, Executive Secretary of IAPCHE observed:
And that is precisely what happened. For two days 85 Christian scholars and academicians--58 from Russia and 27 from other parts of the world--talked and listened to each other. There were, of course, many differences--all of them openly expressed. At the same time, however, there was a clear and shared desire to know and follow the will of the Lord for higher education in 21st century Russia, as well as elsewhere throughout the world.
The entire group then moved outside of St. Petersburg to Repino's Hotel Baltiyets for the rest of the conference. In this retreat setting, with simultaneous translation provided, the conferees gathered in plenary sessions to hear Dr. Harmen Brinkman, Free University of Amsterdam; Prof. Isidor Levin, St. Petersburg School of Religion and Philosophy; Dr. Natalia Pecherskaya, Director of the St. Petersburg School of Religion and Philosophy; and Prof. Vladimar Katasanov, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. But most of the time--one and a half days--was spent in small group round-table meetings. These meetings were led each time by two persons, usually one from Russia and one from outside of Russia. The first series of round tables dealt with "The Problems of Christian Education and the Secularization of Society," but also considered topics such as "Christian Higher Education and Different Religions," "Christian Higher Education and the Law," and "Christian Higher Education and the Building of Civil Society." One of the subjects in the second series was "Theology and Religious Studies in the Context of Contemporary Russian Culture." The others focused on perspectives of Christian higher education in the Humanities (literature, history, etc.), the sciences (physics, mathematics, etc.), philosophy, and the social sciences (sociology, political and legal sciences, etc.) Each series of workshops was followed by summaries and open discussion, which proved fruitful in identifying the issues of primary and ongoing concern.
In fact, the last morning of the conference, Wednesday, May 26, in a meeting co-chaired by Natalia Pecherskaya and John B. Hulst, the entire conference met to discuss "The Future of Higher Education in Russia and other Central/Eastern European Countries: A Christian Perspective." At the beginning of the meeting it was noted that future conferences were intended not only for Russia, but also for Central/Eastern Europe and that the concluding session of the St. Petersburg Conference should be spent in listing and describing important issues in need of further consideration. The following were the issues raised; those in bold type received the most attention:
Following the conference there
was a meeting with the press at the House of Journalism in St. Petersburg,
at which the question was asked, "Was the conference a success?" The answer?
Yes, with the Lord's blessing, the conference was a success in that it
was held and that 85 Christian academics were able to openly discuss issues
of importance and concern to them. The conference also was a success in
that it helped to identify issues important to the future of Christian
higher education in Russia and throughout the world. The 1999 IAPCHE Regional
Conference in St. Petersburg was a beginning. Everyone agreed that there
is much work to be done together in the future.
"The conference was very worthwhile--indeed, it nearly lived up to its grandiose title. . . . "The overall level of discussion was remarkably high, the translators highly capable, and the spirit much less pessimistic than I had anticipated, given the continuing political and economic problems of Russian higher education and the frequent clashes between conservative forces in the Orthodox hierarchy and other Russian and Western religious groups. It was an informative and fruitful meeting of minds. . . . "One cannot engage in several days' conversation with Russian colleagues without being impressed anew at the deep love that Russians have for their culture and the fundamental connectedness of religion, politics, philosophy and literature for the Russian intelligentsia."
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our roots and branching out
I am writing this editorial just having returned from the IAPCHE Regional Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a pleasure to work in preparing for the conference with Dr. Natalia Pecherskaya, director of the St. Petersburg School of Religion and Philosophy; and it was a delight to attend the conference with 85 Christian academics from Russia and other parts of the world. I will admit that, as we were preparing for the conference, I often wondered if it would take place and if it would be a success. Now I can report that, with God's blessings, the conference did take place; it was very well attended; and it was a success in that it accomplished its purpose in bringing together Christian academics--27 registrants from outside of Russia and 58 from Russia--to reflect together on "Higher Education in 21st Century Russian Culture: A Christian Perspective."
One of the two keynote papers was presented at the opening of the conference by Dr. James R. Payton, Jr. of Redeemer College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Payton, who was asked to speak on behalf of IAPCHE, made clear that he embraces the worldview of IAPCHE--specifically its views of Christian higher education--but at the same time he expressed deep appreciation for Orthodoxy and its worldview. He indicated that at the conference IAPCHE would not try to impose its "particular Western Christian approach to education" upon the Orthodox; instead it would "come alongside" the Orthodox in their endeavor to develop and promote a Christian approach to higher education for their country in the 21st century.
Having said this, Payton proceeded to summarize the reformational worldview of IAPCHE in terms of the biblical themes of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. He then presented the basic elements of the Orthodox worldview, demonstrating that it, too, confesses that God Almighty is maker of heaven and earth; that Adam and Eve fell and took their descendants with them; and that God promised to send his Son to rescue fallen human beings and to offer hope for all creation. Payton concluded his paper by noting three implications of the Orthodox worldview for the task of higher education:
Finally, I wish to address a word of encouragement to IAPCHE and its membership. We embrace a distinctively biblical, reformational worldview because, as Payton indicated, "It builds on the apostolic heritage--specifically, as that heritage was reclaimed in Western Christianity during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century." In the past we have been warned that emphasis on that worldview may isolate us and make it impossible to engage in dialogue with others involved in Christian higher education. Our experience at the St. Petersburg conference, however, demonstrates that we should continue to do our academic work in terms of this reformational worldview, knowing that it provides us, among other things, with a basis for working alongside Christian academics who hold to other worldviews and do their work in other cultures and other parts of the world. In other words, our reformational worldview does enable us to be actively involved in an international association for the promotion of Christian higher education.
I recall participating in an IAPCHE consultation some years ago. During one of the sessions my predecessor, the late Dr. Paul Schrotenboer, made this comment: "IAPCHE must endeavor to maintain its reformational roots and, at the same time, branch out to establish contact with others in the world of Christian higher education." The regional conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, clearly indicated both the possibility and the desirability of doing so.
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in Chicago, Illinois, April 12, 1999
(Report submitted by Dr. Justin Cooper, Redeemer College)
On Monday, April 12, representatives of the member institutions of the Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) gathered at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, for their semi-annual meeting. Members include Calvin College, Covenant College, Dordt College, Geneva College, The Institute for Christian Studies, The King's University College, Redeemer College and Trinity Christian College. Dr. John Hulst of IAPCHE was present as an invited guest.
The main discussion topic was "Developing our Christian Academic Identity," led by Dr. Elaine Botha of Redeemer and Dr. Joel Carpenter of Calvin. Each institution was invited to give an overview of its approach to faculty development and the variety of programs and policies employed to support it. These overviews and the resulting discussion proved to be very helpful.
Time was also spent exploring possible cooperative initiatives in other areas and receiving updates on items of interest from each member institution. Topics included cooperative efforts to teach courses for in-service Christian administrators participating in the Administrator Education Certificate Program of Christian Schools International; possible cooperation in the area of faculty development in instructional technology; and updates on new initiatives in graduate level education.
Also noted with appreciation were the successful regional conferences mounted by IAPCHE at Hilltop University in Nigeria and at San José, Costa Rica in January, as well as the conference planned for St. Petersburg, Russia in May.
ARIHE exists to foster cooperation among institutions of higher education which have their basis in the Reformed tradition. For more information please consult the association's website: www.calvin.edu/~arihe.
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for Latin America
(Report received from Dr. Sidney Rooy, a member of IAPCHE's Executive Committee )
Plans for continued activities in the Latin American region go forward. The regional committee of IAPCHE has been invited by the Latin American Theological Fraternity to prepare a consultation on Christian higher education as part of the continental Congress of Evangelization to be held from September 2 to 8, 2000, in Quito, Ecuador. More than a thousand delegates are expected from every country of the region and from the major Caribbean islands.
Sixteen contemporaneous consultations will be held, each one from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. for six days. We are asked to coordinate one on Christian higher education, together with the representative committee appointed by the IAPCHE regional conference held in San José, Costa Rica, in January 1999. Its theme will be "Christian Presence in the Academic World." Leading university educators will be consulted in the planning stages and invited to participate.
From July 22 to 25 the second consultation of Christian universities was held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, at the Bolivian Evangelical University, with the presence of delegates from numerous newly organized institutions. The objectives of the meeting included strengthening higher Christian education through a biblical cosmovision, stimulating the organization of new Christian universities, interchanging academic and administrative experiences, and approving the statutes of the new consortium of Christian universities.
The main addresses of the January regional conference, presentations from the workshops, and other material are being prepared for publication by the sponsoring committee from San José. They will be published in Spanish with a view to distribution in Latin American educational centers. Leading Latin American educators who spoke included Samuel Escobar, Daniel Schipani, Nelly Garcia, Rolando Mendoza, Carmen Julia Pagan, and José Ramon Alcantara Mejia. Also featured was Bob Goudzwaard from the Free University of Amsterdam. The theme for that conference was "Educating as Christians for the 21st Century." Those interested in copies may send their order to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate under "subject" the name of IAPCHE.
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announce a collaborative seminar
Language, Truth, and
Heidegger, Rorty and Derrida
Toronto, June 12-30, 2000
addresses central texts by Martin Heidegger, Richard Rorty,
and Jacques Derrida in order to understand their challenges to traditional
philosophy and their implications for religion, culture, and faith-oriented
scholarship. Seminar leaders are Hendrik Hart, Professor of Systematic
Philosophy, ICS; James Olthuis, Professor of Philosophical Theology, ICS;
and Lambert Zuidervaart, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College.
Applicants must be college or university faculty or be enrolled
in a graduate program. Graduate course credit is available.
Deadline for applications is March 1, 2000.
For more information contact:
Donna Kruithof, Secretary
Department of Philosophy, Calvin College
3201 Burton Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, USA
e-mail: email@example.com fax: 616-957-8505
On May 18 the Executive Secretary met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Dr. Mani Jacob, General Secretary of the All India Association for Christian Higher Education and Chief Coordinating Secretary for the Associations of Christian Colleges and Universities: International Ecumenical Forum (ACCU:IEF). Dr. Jacob was in the United States to deliver the commencement address at Waynesburg College, Pennsylvania, from which he also received an honorary doctorate.
ACCU:IEF was founded. . .
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the Civitas Program in Faith and Public Affairs
(received from Keith J. Pavlischek of The Center for Public Justice, Washington, D.C.)
Civitas is a program of civic education and leadership development for Christian doctoral scholars and was initiated by a major grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In addition to the Center for Public Justice, two of Washington's most prestigious think tanks--The Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute--participate in the program.
Brookings and AEI will host selected Civitas scholars, each for four months, as Fellows at their institutions. Last fall, Timothy Samuel Shah, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, served as a Civitas Fellow at Brookings. During the spring semester W. Bradford Wilcox, a doctoral student at Princeton, was a Civitas Fellow at Brookings.
Civitas will also hold regular conferences, round-tables, and seminars in cooperation with each of the participating institutions. We have, in fact, already begun to establish our presence. In January we held a noteworthy conference at Brookings on "The Faith Factor in Social Policy" which attracted congressional staffers, policy specialists and the media. Key presenters included the Center's social policy director, Stanley Carlson-Thies and Center board member Stephen Monsma, among others. The following day Carlson-Thies and Monsma discussed "Public Funding of Religious Organizations" in a public forum at the American Enterprise Institute. Both events gave us the opportunity to engage influential audiences from the Center's perspective on welfare reform and the equitable treatment of faith-based organizations.
The Civitas program revolves around the nurturing of twelve new doctoral scholars who will enter the program each year. The twelve accepted for 1999 first attended our five-week summer Institute on Faith, Political Thought and Public Policy, which began June 28.
At a reception we hosted for Civitas in April, Congressmen Vern Ehlers and David Price both praised Civitas as a much-needed effort in this day of political superficiality and wide-ranging differences among Christians over policies and civic responsibility. Both endorsed it wholeheartedly.
For further information contact:
University Graduaton Highlights--Vienna,
Austria, and Kiev, Russia
(received from new IAPCHE member Will Goodheer, president of the International University)
The International University's (Vienna) Fifteenth Commencement was conducted at the Haus der Industrie where 41 students from 21 nations received their master's, bachelor's or associate's diplomas. Dr. Gerhard Riemer, director of the Department of Educational & Societal Policy, welcomed the candidates for graduation, their parents, friends, and guests. Don Pettry brought greetings from the board of trustees and James Naismith, board member, read the traditional scripture from Psalm 1. Jerry McIntyre, adjunct faculty member, led the invocation and Dr. Allen Walker led the benediction. The commencement address was delivered by Dr. Bruce Bickel, senior vice president and managing director of the charitable and endowment section of PNC Bank in Pennsylvania. In his impressive message, Dr. Bickel used the example of Joshua and Caleb, who had seen where the Israelites were headed. He went on to use the analogy that as a scout, he was returning to inform the graduates of what lies ahead. Dr. Bickel stressed: 1) be a follower; 2) be a finisher; and 3) be your own reward system.
The University Award of Service was presented to Kamal Achkar, member of the advisory board, for his assistance and counsel to IU. Hans Dederscheck, member of the first graduating class, received a certificate of recognition as board member and teacher of Bible at IU. The Annual Creative Teaching Award was presented to Dr. Irene Montjoye, Austrian professor, who assisted not only her students but the entire university by bringing prominent guest speakers to her human rights class.
An honorary doctorate in business administration was awarded to Oussama Ali Tabbara from Lebanon. Dr. Tabbara is a leader in the business community in the Arab world, a lecturer on management, a research expert, and former director general of Makassed Association, a Lebanese charitable association that has 120 schools and hospitals. He is the first licensed chartered accountant in Saudi Arabia and is founder of an accounting firm; in addition, he is a member of the board of directors of the 12th largest accounting firm worldwide. Dr. Tabbara is a member of many accounting associations and a representative member of the UN intergovernmental working group of experts on international standards of accounting and reporting. In addition to being director of two monthly accounting magazines, Dr. Tabbara is founder of an airlines and director of several companies dealing in transport, agriculture, industry and tourism in various parts of the world.
Academic awards were presented to four students: Wessam Abi El Mona from Lebanon received the Master's Academic Dean's Award for the completion of his MIB with a 4.0 GPA. The Bachelor's Academic Dean's Award was presented to Renata Mosoci from Bosnia. Two Presidential Associate Awards, valued at 50% off on five undergraduate courses, were presented to Gordan Belasic from Croatia and Dzenita Hasagic from Bosnia.
For the 15th graduation, 15 Merit Awards were presented to students in recognition of good study habits, assistance to fellow students, and/or dealing with challenging circumstances in a positive manner. IU faculty selected the recipients of these awards.
IU's extension in Kiev held its fifth graduation in the auditorium of the Kiev National Economic University. Sixty-three students received their bachelor's or associate's degrees. The military band opened the ceremony by playing the U.S. and Ukrainian national anthems. Tim Johnson, missionary and faculty member, read Psalm 1 and led prayer. Jerry McIntyre led the benediction. Bruce Campbell, dean, verified that the graduates had completed all requirements and the degrees were conferred by President Goodheer upon the reading of the "official order" of names by Dr. Anatoliy Voichak, vice president. The commencement address was delivered by Dr. Richard Stanislaw, vice president for academic affairs at Waynesburg College (PA), who challenged the graduates to remember the importance of ethics, honesty, and keeping a good name. Dr. Stanislaw presented each graduate with the book Business Through the Eyes of Faith. Prof. Dr. Zabigailo, former legal counsel for the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and currently serving in Ukraine as Vice Minister of Justice, spoke of the importance of this Christian university to the nation of Ukraine.
Dr. Wil C. Goodheer, IU President, states, "Christian education, with its focus on service, ethics, and morality, has had a powerful effect on the young life of each graduate. The potential of the positive difference they can and will make in our world is staggering. We thank God for the teaching, support and prayers of so many, which makes it possible to provide this unique education in Vienna and Kiev."
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NEWS FROM INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERS
Christian University, Moscow, Russia/Wheaton, Maryland, USA
(The following is taken from a letter written by RACU president, John Bernbaum.)
RACU continues to prosper
While Russia's political and economic life continues to experience hardship, RACU has been prospering. Our spring semester ended successfully on May 7th, followed by a week of final examinations. Then, on May 17th, four three-week summer modules began. These intensive courses are held five days a week for three hours a day and students enroll in only one course at a time.
The courses offered in May were as follows: "Financial Accounting," taught by Professor Gary Vander Plaats, formerly of Geneva College and now a member of the faculty at Dordt College; "Money and Banking," taught by Dave Radius, Christian Reformed World Missions Director, who has many years of experience in banking; "Theories of Counseling," taught by Professor Billy Lewter from Palm Beach Atlantic College; and "Management and Law in Social Work," taught by Professor Maria Gariachovo of the Russian People's Friendship University's law department.
Reports on all four courses were very positive, and approximately 80 students were enrolled in this first of three summer modules.
I am also pleased to announce the addition of three new members to RACU's board of advisors. They are: the Honorable Sam Brownback, member of the US Senate from Kansas; Mr. Howard A. Dahl, president of Amity Technology, Fargo, North Dakota; and Mr. Kyle Royer, vice president for finance and administration for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, the search is on
for new campus facilities. We simply cannot continue in our present location
and are hopeful that a new home can be found soon.
Pusan, SOUTH KOREA
(The following is taken from a speech presented by Kosin President, Dr. Byung Won Kim, to the Dordt College board and faculty during a recent visit to Dordt.)
Brief History and Perspective of Kosin University
Kosin University was founded in September 1946, under the name of the Korea Theological Seminary, by the Rev. Nam-Sun Ju and the Rev. Sang-Dong Han. Both had been imprisoned for resisting the compulsory Shinto Shrine worship during the Japanese occupation. In 1970 the name Korea Theological Seminary was changed to Korea Theological College. In December of the same year, the department of theology at the college was accredited by the Ministry of Education. In December 1976, the department of Christian education was established with the approval of the Ministry of Education. This accreditation was followed by the department of religious music in January 1978. When the department of medicine was approved in October 1980, the name of the Korea Theological College was changed to Kosin College; it became Kosin University in March 1992. In 1986 the Ministry of Education approved seven departments in natural science; in 1992 the departments of English language and literature and of missiology and mission languages were added. In 1999 two new departments--public relations and advertising, and industrial design--were added.
Kosin University also offers graduate programs in four areas of specialization. In February 1987, master's degree programs were first offered in theology and Christian education. Master's programs were added in medicine in November 1986, chemistry in September 1992, and religious music in 1996. Since 1989 the university has offered a doctoral program in medical science. Kosin University began a doctoral program in theology in 1996. Two other schools of specialized graduate studies, the Korea Theological Seminary and the School of Health Science, offer master's degrees in theology and health science.
Since November 1993, over 3,500 students have enrolled each year to pursue academic and professional excellence in various areas of specialization. In order to implement its founding principles, Kosin University recruits committed and well-trained Christian faculty members. The university presently has 207 full-time faculty members who are devoted to teaching, researching, and providing social services on the basis of the Word of God.
Kosin University has three campuses. The main campus is located on the island of Youngdo. The medical college and hospital are located in Songdo, a district of Pusan City. The seminary is located in Chunan, a city close to Seoul. Our two Pusan campuses provide a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. The buildings of the campuses are well-planned and are equipped with advanced equipment for effectively operating the university's educational programs.
The university operates the Kosin University Gospel Hospital. The hospital has over 1,377 beds. It is both a treatment and research center. It is staffed by committed and competent medical professionals who are known not only for their local but also their national and international contributions.
Kosin University, as an educational institution under the direct control of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Kosin Church, owes its existence to a community whose faith commitment demands obedience to biblical principles in all of life. This community confesses that the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God, the only infallible and inerrant rule for practice in every area of life. As God's infallible and authoritative revelation, the Bible reveals, through the Holy Spirit, the way of salvation in Jesus Christ, requires a life of obedience to the Lord, and provides the key to understanding, interpreting, and finding purpose in life. Kosin University expresses this commitment in its motto, Coram Deo.
On this foundation, Kosin University concentrates its education in three areas: first, training leaders shaped by the Word of God and by the tradition of the Reformed faith and committed to living a life of integrity; second, pursuing competence in the broad field of learning and technology; and, third, training servants who will contribute to the manifestation of God's kingdom in society.
Kosin University seeks to be
a true Christian institution of higher education for training well-equipped
Christian servants who exalt God's sovereignty and glory and expand his
kingdom in the world by cultivating graduates committed to the Reformed
faith and worldview.
Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Recent Publication by Calvin Seminary Faculty
John W. Cooper, Our Father in Heaven: Christian Faith and Inclusive Language for God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.
Special Lectures 1999/2000
September 30, 1999, 10:00 am --Seminary Auditorium, Dr. James Grier, Distinguished Professor of Philosophical Theology, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary. "Reproductive Technologies: A Christian Response."
October 5-7, 1999 -- Stob Lectures, Gezon Auditorium, Dr. John Hare.
December 2, 1999, 10:00 am -- Seminary Auditorium, Dr. James Vander Kam, Notre Dame University.
Dutch Reformed Translation Society
The purpose of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society is to sponsor the translation and facilitate the publication in English of important Reformed theological and religious literature published in the Dutch language.
The members of the society believe that the Dutch Reformed tradition has produced many works that deserve much wider distribution than the limited accessibility of the Dutch language makes possible. The writings selected are recognized classics that would be widely appreciated by English-speaking Reformed believers around the world. They would also reveal the spiritual and theological genius of this tradition to Christians of other backgrounds.
The first major project will
be the translation of the definitive edition of Herman Bavinck's four volume
Gereformeerde Dogmatiek. (See "Books" )
Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, INDONESIA
News from Satya Wacana
Twelve study programs of Satya Wacana Christian University, namely management, development economics, law, biology, agronomy, agrobusiness, electronic engineering, English, guidance and counseling, educational economics, educational history, and educational "Pancasila" and civic are already accredited by the National Board for Accredi-tation. There are six more study programs that are going to be accredited next year.
Private Universities Coordinator of the Department of Education in Central Java has approved the proposal of Satya Wacana Christian University to open a new studies program, namely, faculty of psychology. It is expected that by academic year 1999/2000 this faculty will start its academic activities.
In order to participate positively
in the campaigning of political parties in Indonesia for General Election
on June 7, 1999, a series of presentations by political parties to share
their programmes has taken place on the Satya Wacana campus. This is one
of many ways to involve our students in politics and democracy.
Soongsil University, Seoul, KOREA
GSCS holds special seminar
The Graduate School of Christian Studies held a special seminar to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the foundation of Soongsil University with the topic "The Direction of Soongsil University Christian Studies" on November 2, 1998, at the Han Kyung Chik Memorial Hall.
Three lectures were presented by heads of departments and three comments were made by concurrent professors. The first lecture was "Christian Views on Mental Health" by Professor Jong Sam Park. The second was "Exploring Ways for Ecumenical Movement in the 21st Century" by Professor Samuel Lee. The third was "The Direction of Soongsil Christian Theology" by Professor Yung Han Kim.
Seminar commemorates 101st anniversary of Soongsil University
The Graduate School of Christian Studies and Korea Institute of Christian Culture Studies held a special seminar under the topic "Soongsil's Second Century and the Korean Churches" on December 15, 1998.
In this seminar, scholars and pastors studied and discussed the theology of Hyung Ryong Park, Yoon Sun Park, Kyung Chik Han, Shin Myung Kang, and Yang Sun Kim, and discussed the Korean churches' problems and future.
They especially emphasized that Soongsil University should participate in Korean Christianity by training ecumenical leaders. For this purpose, Soongsil needs to continue its spirit of piety, spirit of puritanism, spirit of nationalism, and new martyrdom.
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NEWS FROM AFFILIATE MEMBERS
The Association for Reformational Philosophy,Amersfoort, THE NETHERLANDS
Center for Reformational Philosophy plans international symposium
The Association for Reformational Philosophy announces a sixth International Symposium on "Cultures and Christianity A. D. 2000," Hoeven, the Netherlands, August 21-25, 2000.
At the turn of the millennium, in a global context, the reformational-evangelical emphasis on transformation of culture has to face new questions regarding the scope and nature of the Christian presence within the world. The Christian faith holds that the world is God's creation which will be renewed when Christ comes back to establish his kingdom in its definite form. How is this going to affect the Christian life and calling in the world? Is every culture to be shaped on one mold? Is there one ideal "Christianized" culture or is this 'transformation-process' always a highly contextualized process? If the latter is the case, can Christians from one culture learn from the experiences of those in another culture?
The aim of the symposium is to discuss these questions concerning the relationship between the diversity of cultures in the present world and Christian faith, by bringing together people from different Reformed and evangelical backgrounds and from different continents.
The main contributors will be Dr. Hendrik G. Geertsema, chairman (the Netherlands); Dr. Adolfo Garcia de la Sienra (Mexico); Dr. James W. Skillen (USA); Dr. Bong-Ho Son (South Korea); Dr. ir. Adrian Vlot (the Netherlands); and Dr. Bennie J. van der Walt (South Africa). Representatives from all continents and different traditions will respond to the lectures.
We invite Christian academics to present papers on philosophical subjects treated from a Christian perspective during one of the workshop sessions.
Please submit a resumé of one page to the organizing committee before December 1, 1999. The committee will make its choices known before the end of December 1999.
After the symposium papers presented at the workshops can be submitted to Philosophia Reformata, which will publish them if they fulfill the criteria which hold for this journal.
At the symposium, the Herman Dooyeweerd Prize will be granted. The prize is an award for work in the fields of systematic philosophy or the history of philosophy that most furthers the cause of the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea.
Anyone with work published between 1995 and 1999 that satisfies the description above is eligible. The prize consists of a medal and a charter. The board invites nominations for this award. Details about the publication(s) should be included, along with a motivation for your recommendation.
Forward symposium paper proposals and Dooyeweerd prize nominations to:
ACHEA, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
(reported submitted by IAPCHE member Keith Sewell)
The Association for Christian Higher Education in Australia (ACHEA) is a relatively new organization. It was founded and incorporated in 1995. The constitution of ACHEA commits the association to the establishment of a Christian Studies Centre, and ultimately a Christian university. It also declares explicitly that the university should be free of church, state, or business control. ACHEA is the only Australian association committed to this "free university principle."
In the course of its short life the association has made known its basis and promoted its aims by publishing a newsletter (ACHEA Update), and an electronic magazine (Lookout!). It has published a variety of papers, made submissions on higher educational matters to the federal government, sought to engage others in debate on the key issues, and formed a partnership with the Christian College of Tertiary Education. In addition, the association has published an easy-to-read re-translation of H. van Riessen's important study, The University and its Basis. ($10 postage paid from the ACHEA Secretariat).
ACHEA faces significantly adverse circumstances. It struggles for recognition and support in an environment deeply suffused with pragmatism and opportunism. It needs to attract mature Christians who understand the issues, and who are willing and able to make their support public and financial. Australia has no great tradition of non-state higher educational institutions, other than theological colleges. More-over, for some fifteen or so years the state secular universities have been ex-posed to policies of "economic rationalism"--with many key departments and faculties being subjected to diminution or even elimination. Among Reformed and Presbyterian people there is a weariness concerning higher education that extends back for some forty or so years. Even among those advocating Christian scholarship there has been a regrettable tendency to disavow the Christian university. Concern has also been expressed at the way in which recent decisions and developments appear to place Christian teacher education in Australia within the ambit of the state secular university. This hardly seems consistent with the "free university principle." Therefore, ACHEA's standpoint and program need to be promoted and explained constantly. These are some of the challenges facing this fledgling organization. It values and appreciates the prayers, interest and support of like-minded Christians worldwide.
For further details on ACHEA and its work, write:
Note: The book summaries come from the publishers' promotional material and should not be considered reviews.
"The Soul of Christian Higher Education"
A review essay by James Kennedy,
Assistant Professor of History, Hope College
(reprinted with permission from Perspectives, May 1998)
If the number of books on Christianity and higher learning is any indication, Christian intellectual life in the United States must be thriving. Once written off as anachronisms, Christian colleges are stronger than ever, with fatter endowments, more students, and a greater degree of well-founded intellectual confidence than ever before. Moreover, church-related colleges which had all but abandoned their Christian roots now seek ways to rediscover those very roots; "religious identity," it turns out, gives these schools real financial advantages. Exciting new initiatives designed to foster Christian intellectual life--the Lilly Network, the Pew Scholars' Program and the brand-new Erasmus Institute at Notre Dame--are also signs of revitalization. No less important is the presence of Christian intellectuals who have been able to challenge publicly the arbitrary exclusion of religion from, among other places, the American academy. In this context, research into the role of Christianity in higher education, both past and present, has become a growth industry.
And yet, the very great distance between Christianity and mainstream academic culture remains the fundamental reality by which many Christian intellectuals lead their lives. The divide seems to be primarily a cultural one: the divide between a godless and relativistic intellectual community on the one hand and the all-too-retrograde and anti-intellectual church-folk on the other. For many Christian intellectuals--perhaps especially those teaching at Christian institutions--the only prudent course is to find a path between these two unpleasant cultures.
Models of Christian Education
Responses to the dual challenge of remaining Christian and keeping up to speed intellectually are, of course, incredibly varied. This, in fact, is acknowledged in Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition. "No single evangelical tradition exists," D.G. Hart and R. Albert Mohler write in the introduction to their book, explaining that "evangelicals are heirs to a variety of ethnic and confessional traditions." Correspondingly, evangelical commitment to theological education--and this has not always meant seminaries--has also shown considerable variation, as demonstrated by chapters on the Baptists, the Methodists (actually two of them), the Holiness movement, and the Presbyterians (again, two of them). Nor are traditions outside the U.S. altogether ignored; there are contributions on C.H. Spurgeon's college for preachers, Abraham Kuyper's Free University, and changes within Canadian theological education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Moreover, two of the three women authors in this edition examine women's exclusion from evangelical seminaries, one chapter interpreting all-male theological education in antebellum America as a "shield against the feminization of the church" (Karen Gedge), the second showing that as evangelical seminaries and Bible colleges sought greater respectability earlier in this century, they were less likely to include women (Virginia Lieson Brereton).
All this might suggest that Hart and Mohler have surrendered any belief in a single "evangelicalism," but in conscious rejection of current intellectual practice, they eschew "Balkanizing" the evangelical world, insisting that in the end the tradition does indeed consist of "common elements and impulses." Their insistence on the essential unity of evangelicalism is made easier, perhaps, by the fact that articles devoted to Reformed theological education are particularly numerous, and are written by some of the leading evangelical-Reformed lights, including Richard Muller, Richard Mouw, and David Wells, the latter two offering brief prescriptions for the future of evangelical theological education. This emphasis seems not only due to the historical importance of Calvinism to evangelicalism but to the predominance of Reformed intellectuals in the history of Christian education and the historical theology of evangelicalism.
Despite this imbalance, Theological Education is an excellent edition; the book is well ordered, and the articles are of good scholarly quality. Its main assertion is that the tensions within evangelicalism, particularly in striking a balance between Christian regeneration and deep intellect, have been there from the beginning and have recurred continually in its history. No astounding thesis, certainly, but a helpful corrective to our tendency (a tendency, incidentally, exemplified by Wells' own contribution to the book) to regard our own religious moment as unique.
Those less interested in evangelicals and seminaries per se may find Models for Christian Higher Education more helpful. Its editors, Richard Hughes and William Adrian, selected seven traditions--Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Wesleyan-Holiness, Evangelical and Baptist-Restorationist--and two representative colleges or universities. The result is a chapter on each tradition, followed by two institutional histories. Hughes and Adrian both have ties to Pepperdine University, and this may help account for their decision to choose seven West Coast schools and seven "Eastern" schools (everything east of San Bernardino) to compare levels of support by their respective Christian constituencies.
The result is an uneven mix, from first-rate institutional history to fairly shallow and self-congratulatory accounts of several traditions and institutions. The attempted East-West comparison is largely a failure; it seldom functions systematically as a category of analysis for the authors, and has led to a rather odd selection of schools and conceptualization of traditions. The Baptist and Restorationist traditions are treated in a single unit, for example, and schools east of San Bernardino are mostly Midwestern schools, which function in a culture as arguably different from Eastern and Southern schools, as they are from those of the West. These remarks should not obscure, however, the real achievements in this book. In particular, Calvin College's history--written by James Bratt and Ronald Wells--is a notably fine piece. Several other institutional histories are also quite strong, and Monika Hellwig's brief introduction to Roman Catholicism is highly stimulating because of her personal take on the tradition. Finally, Hughes and Adrian make the book stronger through their own contributions; Hughes' portrait of the Restorationist tradition and of Pepperdine University are both surefooted efforts, and Adrian's thoughtful concluding summary of Christian higher education can and should be read by those who don't have the time or the will to read through this 461-page book. For those with the time and will, Models is a useful, if flawed, guide to a wide variety of church-related institutions.
What Models for Christian Higher Education makes clear is that religious traditions have counted, and continue to count, in the development of the fourteen colleges and universities under study, even as each institution creates a mix of influences that is sui generis. At the same time, it is mistaken to assign too much coherence to these traditions in a post-traditional world. Hughes, for example, criticizes Mark Schwehn (known as Schwenn to Hughes) of Valparaiso University for not acknowledging "the distinctly Lutheran sources" of the vision articulated in his much-discussed Exiles from Eden. But Schwehn--as I know from my time as a Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow at Valparaiso University--is not particularly wedded to a Lutheran model of higher education, and indeed publicly has moved away from a commitment to Lutheran education to a generically Christian one. Schwehn seems more indebted to a modified Christian humanism and nineteenth century Protestant emphasis on character formation than he is to any distinctly Lutheran theology.
Schwehn articulates a new type of Christian intellectual stream that has exerted an increasingly powerful presence within church-related higher education. What has really emerged in academe during the last decade are the voices of religious centrists--intellectuals of faith whose irenic temperaments or "moderate" theology make them as uncomfortable with the raw political and social sentiments of many Christian laity as with the academy's hostility or indifference to traditional religion. Culturally, they are neither interested in subcultural formation as evangelicals traditionally have been, nor are they committed to mainstream (academic) culture as old-line Protestant liberals of 1950s vintage. What chiefly seems to matter to them is the cultivation of gentle spiritual attitudes and practices, which distinguishes them from both the programmatic, dogmatic, and epistemological emphases of evangelicalism and the soulless and unscrupulous ambition of the academic mills. Peacemaking is a central impulse among these intellectuals, and hence it is not surprising that "conversation" (suggesting a more multipolar world than the old word "dialogue") has become a buzzword among them.
Christianity and Culture in the Crossfire is a product of this new emphasis on conversation, and its contributors--participants in a 1995 conference at Calvin College--represent a wide variety of theological positions not restricted to Christianity. Given the "culture wars" between Christianity and "postmodernism and multiculturalism," says David Hoekema, it is essential to "persuade both Christian and secular observers to take a more nuanced view" of the issues that ostensibly divide them. Casting polemics aside, the editors want to give attention to thoughtful voices who can help form a common ground and clear up the misunderstandings and mistrust between the two armed camps. For editor Bobby Fong, conversation is the key to unlocking trust, for as we "honor one another's stories," we help create the civil discourse and civil life for which we all hope ("Afterword").
Christianity and Culture does succeed in giving a forum to a wide range of voices, not all of them Christian. Particularly interesting in this respect is the narrative of Elizabeth Minnich, who tells how her own struggle for civil rights and progressive curricular initiatives ignored the religious, and how a Tillichian kind of faith might become a part of the fight for "justice." Wayne Booth's essay "Deconstruction as a Religious Revival," while ultimately unconvincing, is nonetheless a stimulating and lively contribution. But the book is not really a conversation, or even a series of conversations. There is a fine exchange that Schwehn's essay undertakes with Nicholas Wolterstorff's, and the two essays' rather different conceptions of truth are, especially when taken together, very much worth the reading. But there isn't much more conversation than this. I would not mention it--academics seldom "converse" with each other at conferences--except for the fact that Fong's "Afterword" makes it sound as if a conversation had taken place. Moreover, Fong recapitulates some of the articles in such a way as to purge them of any angularity; rather pungent contributions by Jacob Neusner and Peter Paris are recast as anything but pungent by Fong.
Fong's task of assimilating so many divergent articles is a difficult one, and his desire to bring them together into a coherent whole is understandable. But Christianity and Culture points to a larger problem with "conversation" as strategy. There is a tendency to overuse the word, or to assign it a role it cannot play. Worse still, what goes for "conversation" among Christian intellectuals is often--not always--fatuous, where real disagreements are suppressed for the sake of the tranquil telling of stories and the uncritical appreciation of (at least some of) these narratives. Stories can be important, and Fong and others are on to something if they prefer narrative to debate. But this should not mask the fact that Americans--and maybe nice Christian Americans in particular--are often lousy conversationalists because they cannot cope with conflict in both a civil and constructive way. Thus "conversation" becomes "conversationalism," a conflict management theory that carefully controls rather than discusses real difference. Perhaps Christians can find other points of contact with others than either holy wars or "conversationalism."
Giving God Tenure
It is actually another book--the one with the least felicitous title--which presents readers with the best "conversation" on religion and higher education. Part of the strength of Should God Get Tenure? depends, like any edition, on the strength of particular contributions--and Merold Westphal's on academic excellence (also printed elsewhere), Paul Marshall's on "Religious Toleration and Human Rights," and Jill Pelaez Baumgaertner's on faith and imagination, are just several chapters which can be singled out for exceptional praise. But the real strength of this book, edited by David Gill, is its coherent and wide-ranging treatment of various issues confronting religion and higher education. That the authors have been able to do this collectively is not surprising; all of them were at one time the J. Omar Good Distinguished Visiting Professor of Evangelical Christianity at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. While a few articles, like Corbin Scott Carnell's article on C.S. Lewis' view of Eros, are not directly tied to issues of higher education, most deal directly either with strengthening Christian institutions or making a case for the inclusion of religion at secular colleges and universities--or even more broadly, within civil society itself. Together, they form a persuasive articulation of how religion in general or the various resources of Christianity in particular can play a positive role in higher education, from the role of prayer to the psychological insights of Christianity.
Taken as a whole, Should God Get Tenure? evidences that traditional evangelical tension: a strongly apologetic impulse that goes hand-in-hand with a sense of evangelical intellectual marginalization and the desire to overcome the world by doing first-rate Christian scholarship (yes, the collection does feature an essay by Mark Noll on this subject.) As an evangelical myself, I have been heir to this tradition and continue to find much attractive in its intellectual strategies. But Should God Get Tenure? also prompts some critical questions. In the first place, there is something predictable and occasionally trite in the way several essays attempt to demonstrate the virtues of religion in the public sphere or (in the case of Robert Clouse's' essay) the shortcomings of postmodernism and multiculturalism. There is a great deal of truth in the arguments, but like other advocacy groups, evangelicals sometimes suffer from a lack of originality and sophistication in their arguments for tenuring God. After awhile, we know what the positions are, and all those who are likely to be persuaded have been persuaded.
That leads me to a second source of discomfort, which applies not only to the Gill edition but also to Christianity and Culture in the Crossfire and to some of the authors in Models of Christian Higher Education. It pertains to this preoccupation with reducing the divide between Athens and Jerusalem, so that Christians--and religion in general--may be restored to honored places in the academy. In recent years, Christian intellectuals have been eager to demonstrate their mettle: if only others could see how important our insights, how excellent our scholarship, and how benevolent our intentions, then we could at least partly restore the lost synthesis of faith and knowledge. But I have become less sanguine about Christians' efforts to become important players in academe. The antithesis between belief and unbelief cannot be overcome by our desire to end it, and there is only a slight indication that the academy is more interested in our good offices now than they were a decade or two ago. Though this may seem obvious, I wish that more contributors in the books had expressed awareness of the painful permanence of the divide (Neusner is one who indirectly does). In questioning--not rejecting--efforts at bridging the divide, one need not adopt an excessively militant posture like David Wells does in Theological Education; a xenophobic, isolationist mentality serves no one. But it does mean coming to terms with living in two worlds, in which we, as Christians, will often be relegated to the margins of the earthly city.
Perhaps accepting our marginality rather than seeking to overcome it would bring a new generation of Christian scholarship. Influenced by the values and insights of the academy but not beholden to it, confident but not self-conscious of the importance of faith for scholarship, and willing to serve the church as much as the academy, Christian intellectuals may find that they, hope against hope, will exert an influence on intellectual life far beyond what they presently contribute.
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