A brilliant paragraph

Can’t say it any better than Chris Keith has at The Jesus Blog: (emphasis added)

“This brings me to my third point—administrators.  Hays doesn’t really mention this issue, but for me it is the critical one that will determine the long-term impact of this important book upon its target audience.  My personal opinion is that we Christian academics can write all the books and articles in the world; we can speak at conferences as well as churches; we can earn scholarly credentials and mature beyond the naiveté that marked our first steps on this path; we can write excellent critical monographs on issues unrelated to faith, not because we are trying to “go behind enemy lines” but because we are compelled to be honest scholars and are not afraid to admit that we and our tutors in the faith were wrong about some things; we can also write popular-level and devotional books related directly to our faith, not because we are trying to hide from the big, bad academy by addressing the pew-sitters but because we are compelled to be honest scholars and are equally not afraid to admit that we and our tutors in the faith were right about some other things; we can become proficient at relaying critical insights to our less-learned brothers and sisters with sensitivity and care as well as honesty and openness; we can simultaneously hold Bauer and Bruce as idols without becoming beholden to either; we can similarly come to glean theological insights from Aquinas as well as Nietzsche; we can go through the gut-wrenching, soul-scarring process of unreservedly putting it all on the poker table of faith; we can pull our winnings back from the table in more of an act of humble survival than triumphant conquest as we watch others walk away from the table empty-handed with a mixture of sadness and admiration; we can emerge knowing what we know and, more importantly, knowing what we do not know; we can come to see some on our side of the aisle as crazy charlatans doing more damage than good and some on the other side of the aisle as holding profoundly more insight than our professors ever told us; we can work hard to have a voice in a discussion that our detractors often cannot even understand; we can, in short, become critical-thinking believers who are able to train the next generation to think for themselves as well.  But none of this is going to matter, in terms of historical criticism and institutions of theological education, without administrators who will stand up to fundamentalists, with all the social and financial implications that it may entail, and tell them that the Anthony Le Donnes, Peter Ennses, and Michael Pahls of the world have a ministry worth having on their campus.  I hope that those administrators will read Hays and Ansberry’s book and take it to heart, because these Christian scholars are right.



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