A Christian Academic Manifesto
I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising sun;
not because I see it, but by it I can see all else. (C. S. Lewis)
The Committee of the National Christian Postgraduate Conference thank Andrew Fellows of L'Abri for his suggestion, made at the 2008 conference, that we develop a Christian Academic Manifesto. The manifesto continues to be a work in progress, and the authors encourage all Christians in academia to prayerfully consider the points above, implement them as they are able, and contribute to the further refining of this document by sharing their feedback with the conference committee.
A Vision for Christians in Academic Life
1. As Christians in academia holding to the historic Christian faith, we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord over the whole of creation and therefore all truth belongs to God.
2. We embrace academic study as a creative, rational and robust way of understanding God’s world and one way in which we may cultivate our minds.
3. We seek to make our work in the academy an expression of worship and obedience to God. We are called to be co-workers with Him, creatively stewarding and transforming a fallen world in the light of His redemptive kingdom.
4. Many contemporary academic circles champion humanistic philosophies as the foundation of their work while isolating themselves from the valid perspectives of other disciplines. Adherence to such philosophies is impossible for academics who hold a theistic worldview, and the resulting fragmentation impoverishes the world of learning. The promulgation of idolatrous philosophies is also of concern because of the far-reaching influence of the academy in society and culture.
5. Against this backdrop we propose a paradigm for the academy of genuine plurality and mutual engagement, based on the biblical convictions that God alone is objective, that His truth is accessible to all and that no perspective can exhaust reality. In this paradigm of “conviction with diversity”, all academics are encouraged to humbly and openly work out their views, with mutual engagement, for the better development of academic knowledge.
6. As Christian students of God’s creation, we want our minds to be radically transformed by God. We trust Him to guide us towards a more accurate understanding of the world and of how we may transform it for good. We pursue God’s wisdom in faithful relationship with Jesus Christ by engaging our minds fully in our studies, strengthened by His Spirit.
A Christian Perspective on Study and Research
In view of the above, we seek to:
- Acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ over our subject matter and ask Him to enable us to see it more clearly.
- Glorify God through studying and developing His creation, including human culture.
- Allow our Christian faith to transform our academic work from its foundations.
- Allow our academic work to illuminate our faith with new perspectives and insights.
- Explore the limitations and boundaries of our disciplines, being aware of their history and philosophy.
- Articulate our worldview and demonstrate the rational coherence of our basic beliefs. This may involve study beyond our specialist subject, especially in areas of philosophy and theology.
- Learn how our discipline relates to other disciplines with the aim of understanding God’s creation in a more integrated, global perspective.
- Identify and select projects, whether in research, teaching, management or social aspects of academic life, with high potential for us to bring Christ’s redemptive influence to bear.
- Use our academic gifts for the benefit of wider communities and promote the application of research for the common good.
- Be aware of economic, political and social issues regarding funding sources, applications and other conditions and implications of our work.
- Develop such intellectual virtues as wisdom, honesty, rationality, accuracy, fairness, eloquence, lucidity...
Christian Living in Academic Communities
As Christian postgraduate students living and working in a wider academic community we seek to:
- Participate in and contribute to professional, social and other aspects of life in our academic communities
- Show generosity and hospitality by supporting social activities and promoting a friendly, inclusive atmosphere
- Get to know our colleagues (including students, lecturers, supervisors, management and support staff) as people made in God’s image
- Willingly support undergraduate students in their studies
- Engage in organizational politics with godly wisdom and discretion
- Nurture links between the academy and wider world, e.g. via educational and charitable outreach
- Defend such values as freedom of conscience, respect, compassion, thrift, fairness, truthfulness, due credit...
- Pursue prayerful fellowship with other Christians in our academic communities
- Contribute to the life of a local church community
- Lead well-rounded and balanced lives