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Eyes of Faith

"Eyes of Faith" is the title of a series of supplemental textbooks written primarily by professors in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The related project at Abilene Christian University involved faculty members in several departments who (1) read and reviewed the book in their discipline from the "Eyes of Faith" series, (2) conducted a faculty discussion session in their department, (3) compiled examples of connecting Christian values with course content, and (4) presented their reviews/examples to faculty at college meetings.

These reviews and examples provide faculty with stimulus material for integrating Christian values and course content when they revise courses and update syllabuses.

Biology Through the Eyes of Faith
Review of Book | Applications

BusinessThrough the Eyes of Faith
Review of Book | Applications | Student Feedback

LiteratureThrough the Eyes of Faith
Review of Book | Applications

Music Through the Eyes of Faith
Review of Book | Applications

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Biology Through the Eyes of Faith
by Richard T. Wright
A Review by James R. Nichols
March 4, 1997

       Biology through the Eyes of Faith (1989) is part of a series produced by the Christian College Coalition. This particular volume was written by Richard Wright, a Professor of Biology at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. Dr. Wright holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has lectured and published widely, particularly in the areas of science/faith interactions and ecology.
       In this volume Wright develops the Biblical message of creation and applies it to concepts of dominion and stewardship. There are effectively four main "revolutions," as Wright calls them, considered in the book. But before addressing these four, Wright attempts to develop the concept of world view, at first in general and then as it applies to science. He spends a chapter or two on how science works, a chapter on how God relates to the world, and then relates the two. Part of this discussion is a struggle with the nature of scripture and is one of the high points in the book for me.
       Turning to the "revolutions," Wright deals first with the creation/evolution controversy head on. He separates, appropriately, the "creation" information from the "evolution" information and argues that the "real issue is Creator versus no Creator, not creation versus evolution." He proposes alternative theistic approaches and suggests a strongly conciliatory tone amongst believers on this topic. One of his best points which recurs is that some Christians' dogmatic stance on this issue represents a significant stumbling block to those non-believers who might give the Christianity a hearing, but do not do so because, to them, Christianity is so closely identified with a narrow view of creation/evolution. He is not bashful about identifying the non-Christian philosophic baggage often tied to evolution, but suggests that we carefully separate the biology from the philosophy.
       In the second "revolution" he addresses biomedical topics. Here he wonders about our definition of "health" and considers respect for persons, beneficence, and justice as they relate to health care. Infertility problems and abortion are thoughtfully considered with, to me, a clearly Christian spirit. An important context for Wright is our human role of stewards and what manipulations that allows.
       The "genetic revolution" is similar to the preceding one, but here Wright tries to inform and evaluate particularly with reference to biotechnology and the risks and benefits involved.
       Wright's final consideration is the "environmental revolution" and he carefully discusses human population growth, resources, pollution, and biological depletion. This is a grim story, in Wright's opinion, and needs a clear context of serving as God's stewards.
       This book is targeted at undergraduate Christian biology or science majors and is very effective in that role. It not a large book (paperback almost 300 pages) and some professionals in bioethics or medical ethics probably would find it light reading, but my experience has been that undergraduate students do not find it to be light, and, in fact, are significantly stretched by it. I believe it is an important addition in aiding students to integrate their academic training with their faith.

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Connecting Christian Values in Course Content
Reflections on Biology 497---Seminar in Biology
James R. Nichols
March 31, 1997

Background

       Within the Biology Department we have been confident concerning the academic preparation of our majors, as well as non-majors who take courses with us. We have been less confident, however, at how effectively we have been aiding the students in growth in integrating their science information with their Christian stances. Recognizing that the next generation of scientist/Christians is in college right now and that part of them are at ACU, we in the department have pondered the best approach to this need. As expected, some of this integration occurs in each class we teach, but it was never the real focus or goal of a dedicated amount of time.
       We had on the books a one-hour "biology seminar" course required of all our senior majors, but the content of that course had been a hodge-podge over the years. We decided to dedicate that one-hour slot to a weekly reading/discussion course which provided a forum for consideration of science/faith interactions. We made that decision about seven years ago and the description following considers the development of that course.

Mechanics

       The Seminar in Biology course meets for one 50-minute period each week for a 15 week semester. Maximum enrollment in each section is 12-14, a design to facilitate discussion. Most semesters this means that we must have at leas t two sections of the course occurring simultaneously. On the first class meeting a week by week reading list is distributed so that every student is reading the same material in preparation for a given Friday (the current class day used) class meeting. The class meetings are virtually 100% discussion sessions with a student from the class assigned ahead of time to be the "facilitator" of the class period. We carefully explain (and model on the first reading assignment) that the student leader of the d ay is not a lecturer but is, instead, a discussion-prompter.
       During each class meeting students are given a set of five-six open-ended questions pertaining to the next given reading section. The questions are prepared by the student who will be the "leader" on the day of that discussion. The questions are responded to in writing (at least one paragraph per question) and the student leader then uses these questions as discussion prompters for his or her week. Each student is the leader for at least one week and must read ahead and prepa re questions. For example, if I were a student in the class and we were discussing chapter seven today and next week I am to be the leader for chapter eight, today I will hand out questions on chapter eight. Students will respond to these questio ns in writing by next week and therefore be "primed" for discussion of chapter eight next week.
       The faculty person responsible for the course collects the written responses each week and returns them the following week after recording their completion. Because the questions are open-ended, no real attempt is made to "grade" the responses. Evaluation of the students in terms of grade is lenient with the assumption of conscientious responding to the questions each week plus the student's preparation of questions and leading the discussion on his or her week(s).
       Over the semesters the reading assignments have come from several sources including:
       1. Biology Through the Eyes of Faith - Richard T. Wright - Harper and Row. This book has been used every semester and is the closest thing to a "core" text for the course. This book is read gradually in its entirety an d has been exceedingly stimulating, helpful, and informative material for this course and this discussion format.
       2. Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy - American Scientific Affiliation. This material, although we are not using it currently, added a didactic flavor for those students directed toward professional education since the booklet was originally prepared for secondary teachers.
       3. "A Question of Integrity" - William Benetta - California Science Teachers Journal, spring 1987. This is a vigorous rebuttal to item #2 and was helpful in seeing an opposing interpretation of evidence.
       4. "The Ecology of Grief" - Phyllis Windle - Bioscience, May 1992 and
       5. "Of Fields and Faith" - Phyllis Windle - in Science and Christian Faith: the Connection- Daniel W. Martin, Editor - Presbyterian Publishing House. These two articles by Dr. Windle (who is both a Ph.D. professional ecologist and a hospital chaplain) are stimulating items from an interdisciplinary approach.
       6. Several photocopied items varied from semester to semester dealing mostly with population problems, medical ethics, and genetic ethics.

By reading this material together and then having guided discussions, the goal (mechanically) is for the students to uncover most of the points of the course themselves. As they read, respond to questions in writing, and then have group discussions, the students clearly are involved in cooperative learning. I as a faculty member in the group am somewhat of a resource person but mostly just another member of the group.

Topic Flow

During the course of the semester the readings and discussions take us through several significant considerations:
       1.      World View. This is one of the major concerns of the course, that students understand the concept of world view. We want students to understand that everybody has a history (teachers, preachers, text-boo k authors, research article authors, entertainers, themselves) and that personal history sets a framework in which each person operates. We promote a Christian world view and explain that any world view shapes responses, including professional responses. Since these students are nearly professional biologists or scientists, we would like to strengthen their Christian world view and aid them in decision pathways based on that world view.
       2.      How science works. Despite the fact that these students are fairly sophisticated scientifically, the course considers the role of hypothesis, data collection and interpretation. Despite the claims, science is not value-neutral; there are shaping principles but they are not always exposed.
       3.      Some history of science/religion relationships.
       4.      Evolution/creation considerations. This involves consideration of alternative approaches to Genesis and distinctions between evolution as biology and evolution as philosophy (and the interplay of world view here). This also involves some wrestling with what scripture is and how it communicates to us.
       5.      Biomedical/genetic concerns. This concerns the abilities and constraints of science. Remember, these are senior students and, though naive in some ways, many of them are very good scientifically. Many a re just months away from graduate or professional school programs and they are increasingly knowledgeable of and sensitive to molecular biology and medical and environmental topics and to some of the hard decisions they are about to face as professionals. They are very enthusiastic about some focused discussions on these topics.
       6.      Stewardship and environmental ethics. Again, the students are very active in their concern for hammering out some reasonable and informed Christian stances.

Outcomes/student responses

       We have used this format and this material for seven years now. Despite making some adjustments from semester to semester, overall we have been very pleased with the course. We do end-of-the-semester anonymous student evaluati ons and they have been almost uniformly appreciative of the content and format. Students seem to appreciate the casual atmosphere of the class and feel no one is "on the spot" but everyone has a responsibility to contribute. Many, many students express surprise at the diversity of opinions expressed by student friends they thought felt exactly like they did (but, in fact, did not). These examples of diversity coming from peers seem to stimulate reconsideration of some of their positions as well as conf irming some of their positions. We faculty members involved seem to have been effective in avoiding "arguments" and keeping the tone positive and encouraging. We perceive positive effects on student morale because they are supplied with an organized, un derstandable discussion with their friends on topics in which they are interested--a winning arrangement.
       Criticisms we get most often are that the course is too short and that the topics get "stuck" sometimes (the student facilitator and/or faculty member must keep it moving). Interestingly, there are a few complaints that the fac ulty member present fails to give "definite" answers to problems. That, of course is not a legitimate complaint at all, but simply an expression of the dawning realization by the student that he or she is going to have to make professional/spiritual decis ions on some tough issues. Lots of people would like to be given once-for-all-time answers but as adults we know there are not very many answers like that.

Conclusion

       We have tried to create a one-hour casual but focused format in which students gradually read and respond to material prompting them to integrate information:
       - to integrate the sciences. We have found that students do not effectively integrate the natural sciences. They take a chemistry course, a physics course, and a biology course and do not do well at seeing the overlap. Several of the topics in this semester force consideration of that overlap.
       - to integrate science and non-science. The course promotes that many problems need consideration not only of science but of economics, sociology, political science, and other academic disciplines.
       - to integrate science and their Christian faith. The course is designed to aid students in clarifying their own Christian world view and then to fit their academic and professional preparation into that world view. We believe this is important because - - - the next generation of scientist/Christians is in college right now, and some of them are at ACU.

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Business Through The Eyes of Faith
by Richard C. Chewning, John W. Eby, and Shirley J. Roels
A Book Review by Jonathan D. Stewart

        What is the role of a Christian business person in a world where unethical practices and political scandal appear to be commonplace? Is it really possible for Christians to be active in business and maintain their integrity? Will putting Christ first in my life preclude the possibility of being a successful business person? In Business Through The Eyes of Faith, the authors address these and several other difficult issues facing Christian business people today. The result is an interesting collection of discussions that incorporate examples from today's business world, related Biblical lessons, and compelling study questions. These discussions help the reader focus on the relationship between Christianity and business with an emphasis on management from a Biblical perspective. The Christian view of justice, service, and stewardship, within a business context, are just a few of the topics addressed by this thought provoking book.

        Chewning, Eby, and Roels, focus on four major topics: 1) Business from a Christian Perspective, 2) Work, 3) Leadership, and 4) Opportunities for Christian Service in Business. Each of these topics is considered over the course of several chapters. Each discussion begins with an example from contemporary business to motivate and stimulate thought about the primary topics that are considered in that chapter. These introductory vignettes cover a wide range of issues. One tells of the computer company in Virginia whose primary goal, as stated in their charter, is to honor God. Another contrasts two extremely different management styles: one that assumes the worst of employees and another that assumes the best, then leads the reader to evaluate his or her beliefs about human nature. These examples effectively draw the readers into the discussion, thereby encouraging development and reinforcement of their own beliefs about the subject.

       Following the opening vignette each chapter introduces, develops, and summarizes some of the main issues associated with the topic at hand. The Christian perspective on these issues is uncovered using scripture. Christ is used constantly throughout the text as the perfect example of how to relate to others. The letters of Paul and others are used to illustrate how to deal with others in a straight-forward and "business-like" manner without sacrificing honesty and integrity. Hypothetical and actual stories are used to further motivate thinking in each area. Finally, a summary of the ideas presented in the chapter is used to synthesize the main issues, drawing conclusions when possible, motivating further thought when necessary.

        Chewning, Eby, and Roels close each chapter with a section entitled Questions for Reflection. These questions relate back to the main issues of the chapter and are presented in three sections. The first section asks additional questions related to the introductory vignette. "Is one [of the previously mentioned management styles] more Christian than the other?" The second section provides more generalized questions along with Bible verses that may be helpful in developing answers. "We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6). How does this affect the way we relate to people in business?" The third focuses on contemporary issues, allowing the reader to apply the principles of the chapter to their own life within a current business setting. "Christians often work closely with people who are not Christians. How does this affect how they might work with people?" The questions encourage deeper consideration of the issues and are structured so as to be useful and meaningful to each individual reader. Additionally, the case-like format of the chapters allow them to be used in a class or seminar setting where the Questions for Reflection may be used to stimulate discussion.

        The strongest attribute of the book may be that it challenges the reader. The examples, although sometimes dated, present difficult questions that are not always easily solved. The authors deliberately avoid obvious yes or no questions that do not teach anything new or force individual growth. Their efforts are concentrated on moving the reader to a point where they must ask themselves what they believe the solution to this problem is. This approach allows the reader to "practice" making the type of tough decisions that face Christian business people each day, instead of just reading about them. This process helps tune the mind to stop and look at business decisions from a Christian perspective. Whether making a serious decision about who will receive a promotion and who will not, or simply smiling and saying an encouraging word to the people we work with each day, Colossians 3:23-24 calls us to do all things as though we are working for the Lord. Dedicating time to think and pray about the types of questions presented in Business Through The Eyes Of Faith is of value to any business person who seeks to stand out for the Lord in his or her work.

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Examples and Methods of Integrating Faith and Business in the Classroom

Jonathan Stewart:

  1. I am attempting to encourage my students to more formally address the question "Is there a Christian perspective in business?" At first the question makes most business people defensive. However, I think there is value in formally discussing this point with our students. Historically, religious leaders have discounted the ability of a person to be both a business person and a Christian. Business Through the Eyes of Faith quotes St. Jerome as saying "a merchant can seldom if ever please God." St. Augustine is similarly credited with stating that "business is in itself evil."
            As Business teachers at a Christian University, it is our responsibility to understand and share with students what the Bible says about work and business. One recurring principle in the Bible is that honest work is condoned while laziness is condemned. Another is that efficient and responsible use of our talents and assets is encouraged.
            The Bible provides many examples and statements about how Christians should go about their daily work. Colossians 3:23-24 says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
            Since business is simply organized work, we should dedicate all our efforts in business to the Lord. Other verses like Proverbs 6:6-11, 10:4,5, 26 indicate that laziness is not a quality that a Christian wishes to have.
            By sharing these ideas and verses with my students I hope to convince them of the need for Christian business people in the world today. Our society needs Christian business leaders to help fight the current decay of ethical standards. Christian business men and women may have opportunities to serve that other people do not have. The Church needs Christian business leaders who are open to God's will and eager to be active in His work. I want my students to know that the Lord can use them the same way he uses preachers, teachers, and missionaries.
  2. Encourage Faith by promoting the Heritage of Christianity
            One way the Bible uses to teach us about faith is the example of others. A well known example of this is in Hebrews 11, a passage sometime referred to as the "roll call of faith". We can use the same method the Bible uses to connect faith and business by illustrating Christian business decisions and behavior with examples from the Bible. Similarly, we can use contemporary examples to illustrate faithful practices and how Christianity should impact business decisions.

Joy Fair:

        Joy Fair was kind enough to share some prepared comments with the rest of the COBA faculty at our seminar on April 16. Here is a list of the main topics she discussed.

  1. Beginning each class period with a motivational quote accompanied by a related scripture.
  2. Assigning an ethics related project within in the first two weeks of each semester.
  3. The last day of each semester she reads Ephesians 3:14-19.
    "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
  4. Asking for prayer requests and having one of the students lead a prayer for those requests during class.

        Additionally, she has provided a group of cases and articles that she uses to motivate discussion on faith and business issues. Those cases and articles are included in the following pages.

Don Jackson:

        We were also thankful that Don Jackson presented some ideas which he feels are critical to the integration of faith and business. A summary of the main points of his presentation are also presented below.

  1. Teaching by example: If they remember something about economics 20 years from now, that is great, but he wants them to remember him standing in front of the class with the Bible open. Many of the really important Christian behaviors are taught by example.
  2. Learning by comparison. Students need to test value against their peers and teachers to mature. Just as Hebrews 5 speaks about moving from spiritual milk to maturity, students need to exercise their ability of telling right from wrong. Students are encouraged to do this in an assignment where they test the assumptions of economics against those of the Bible. This gives them the opportunity to compare the spiritual value of profit maximization with that of selflessness and giving.
  3. Some of the topics assigned to students for research papers and written assignments are included below. Students are encouraged to incorporate "popular" business sources as well as the Bible in their research.
    1. Testing values: Economy vs. Environment.
    2. Healthcare: Rights vs. Privilege
    3. Poverty vs. Equality

Monty Lynn:

  1. In the beginning management course (MGMT 330), students choose among 13 mini-projects (5 for an "A," 3 for a "B"). One of the projects is to address faith and management. The syllabus wording is: "#9. Spirituality and work: Too often, ACU students take Bible classes and majors classes but may not think about integrating the two. This assignment challenges you to study what faith and scripture say about some aspect of management or work. The product is an essay (1,200-1,500 words) about a single passage (such as Matt. 5-7) from scripture or comments on 12-20 different scripture passages. The essay should include a working mission statement based on Judeao-Christian values which will personally guide you as a student and worker."
  2. In the senior management seminar course (MGMT 436), we discuss the integration of faith and work in more detail, including historical views of work in light of cultural and religious world views. One of our texts in the class is Doug Sherman & William Hendricks (1987), "Your Work Matters to God". Colorado Springs, CO: NAVPress. We devote four to five class periods on the topic. Also in this class, we discuss the economics and Christian implications of global business, poverty, multicultural workplaces, and the natural environment. At the end of the term we discuss these in relation to Christian faith.

Judine Irvine:

This is a copy of the offer letter that we send to student assistants in the COBA Dean's Office. I wrote it and we began using it a couple of years ago. We send it out whenever we are hiring a new student assistant.

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COBA: Student Responses
(Stu Acct & Fin Society) - 2/27/97

Question 1 | Question 2 | Question 3 | Question 4

Question # 1:How do you perceive the connection between Christian faith and business in the world today? Is there a connection?

  1. I think the truly successful business persons are those who have been able to integrate their Christian faith with their knowledge. I most definitely believe there is a connection. God is everywhere, and he sees everything. He doesn't go away when we go to work. It's important to keep Him as #1 wherever we go.
  2. The connection that I see is that our Christianity is who we are. Our role in the business world is what we do. What we do should be a result of who we are and what is important to us. In another sense, the business world and our role in it is simply another way of showing/spreading our Christian faith.
  3. I think there is somewhat of a connection, but not a significant one. Business in the world today seems to be like the general society in that it's looking out for itself instead of someone else first.
  4. It should influence decision-making in all areas of business- financial, management, and relationships.
  5. I think it is very important. I feel that your Christian faith has a tremendous impact on your actions and morals. Your faith will determine what kind of business you run or your attitude and actions at your job. I feel we talk about it, but we need to do more in the way of actually applying it.
  6. No response.
  7. From how it appears in the world, the two seem to be mutually exclusive. You are either a Christian or in business (or neither), but not both. Occasionally, business figureheads will claim Christianity, but that never seems to come first in the world.
  8. I think the world needs more Christian business men and women. Especially in management, there is a connection to business values of integrity and equality.
  9. I think one has to look pretty hard to see Christian faith exemplified in business today. I read Fortune and Forbesmagazines and I rarely see Christian ethics shining through. Greed has overpowered business to the point where businesses and business people are not being as beneficial to the community as they should be. There are bright spots, though. Investors are cautious of buying stock in "sin" companies, and some companies are providing some benefits to the community. We need more of this kind of activity.
  10. I do not believe that there is much of a connection. There is too much greed and self-interest. People in many cases, try to become rich without doing much work.
  11. There is a definite connection that needs to be made more often with the concerns of ethics. Everyday, at numerous times, men/women face ethical situations that if made or answered with a Christian voice can possibly produce a better society in the business world and in the general social world.
  12. Yes, there is a connection because Jesus said that you need to work if you want to eat. So we need to work and make money to share with the people who do not have any.
  13. Christianity and business should go hand in hand. They are not two separate worlds.
  14. Yes. There is a close connection. If your Christian beliefs do not reach into how you earn your living, spend a large amount of time doing, etc., then your faith is stale, superficial, and hypocritical.
  15. Big business leaves little room for Christian ideals. A recent article in Fortune magazine even asked the question, "Is your family getting in the way of your career?" That is the sad reality of our world, that our careers are valued more than our families. It goes deeper than business to society and government.
  16. I think you really have to struggle to find good examples of Christian faith in the world today. I think the closest thing is the ethics involved in business decisions. Even ethics are hard to see at times.
  17. The connection is not as strong as it should be. Just as missionaries are obvious on the mission field, so should Christians be obvious in the work place. Business should work hard to make money, never comprising integrity, and using their money for good. As Christians, we should always watch for opportunities to be a light.
  18. It seems to be disintegrating when you look at the news, but there are still a lot of people who apply it to their work ethics.
  19. Yes. I do feel that there is a connection, a strong connection. All too often, though, society portrays a negative connection which we need to work on desperately.
  20. Christian faith is desperately needed in the business world. I think that many people have let the responsibility lie with the government, who establishes guidelines for ethical and fair business practices. However, there will always be loopholes, or people who just disregard those restrictions. So, there is a need for people to have a high authority to answer to, someone who sees our every thought and deed.
  21. Bad! There is a connection, but very little people practice it.
  22. If businesses weren't run on a Christian basis, I believe they would crash. Businesses must be run on Christian principles.
  23. No response.
  24. No response.
  25. Diligence. Not negligent. Not corrupt.
  26. In my congregation I see many successful business men. These men have had an impact in my life. They have taught me that you must stand above the sin in the world and share your faith with those around you.
  27. No connection. More emphasis on ethics and business, but those are motivated by different things. Following a code of ethics is often motivated by nothing nobler than staying out of jail, while Christian faith is driven by a desire to serve and worship God.
  28. I know this does not really answer the question, but I truly and sincerely appreciate the ultimate goal of the business department, which is to be a Christian above everything else.
  29. Faith seems to take a subservient role to success in the business world.
  30. I feel that there is little connection between Christian faith and the business world. Many people are out in the business world to serve and work for their clients and not sharing their intelligence or knowledge of their faith. I feel there should be a balance between the two.
  31. I think that there are Christians in the work force, but that at this point in time, it doesn't seem to be appropriate to discuss our faith in the work force. As least that is my impression of today's business atmosphere- people just don't talk about their faith.
  32. I think there is a connection, but it is neither strong nor positive. I know there are some good Christian business people, but I think they are perceived negatively by the business community.
  33. No response.
  34. The Christian faith is full of decisions. Business is full of decisions. The connection between the Christian faith and business is the decision process an individual goes through. Leaning on the Lord during this decision process is the key, because the Lord will be faithful to us.
  35. I think that a large percent of the business world is not connected to Christianity. There are a lower number of Christians in the world in comparison to business people.

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Question # 2:Does the college of Business Administration at ACU make the connection between Christian faith and business? If so, what are some of the more effective ways that connection is made?

  1. So far, in my limited experience, the theory classes are better at faith and business integration than the accounting and finance classes. Don Jackson had us write position papers on certain issues. We read scripture and discussed our thoughts. It's really beneficial to think about what the Bible has to say about what we're learning in the classroom.
  2. Some teachers have, in my opinion, made the connection clear to students. Mr. Fowler, for example, at several points in the semester, quit teaching accounting a little early and attempted to remind us what was really important. It's easy to get caught up in the thinking that debits and credits matter more than they do in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Yes, there is a connection. I've had an economics teacher who held a class period on Christian ethics, as well as an accounting professor who did the same.
  4. Yes. Applying material discussed in class to actual applications in life with a Christian perspective.
  5. I feel the COBA makes the connection, but we need to apply it to real life examples, whether it be sharing a personal story or making up a story. I feel one reason it is not applied as much is time. It seems like classes are rushed so much, and it is hard to get the information in. That makes it harder to apply the Christian aspect.
  6. No response.
  7. By the examples of the professors is the biggest way the connection is made.
  8. Yes. Some of the professors share their own personal experiences that show us how they have had to make difficult decisions based on faith.
  9. I applaud the job that COBA does in making this connection. Business students at ACU receive a continual lesson in connecting our Christian faith with business goals. I think the most effective ways are the daily comments our professors make. Rather than spending hours set aside, the most effective way is to incorporate Christianity in the lessons everyday.
  10. No response.
  11. COBA has a connection, I think one of the greatest is the example of professors. This is very important to see as a student, knowing the professors are successful, went through some situations, and can identify with us on showing faith in business. The students who don't know Christ can be easily influenced by this example. Example is important.
  12. The professors teach the way Jesus would and try to relate business with the Christian ways.
  13. By applying scriptural principle to ideas that are considered to be ethical issues in today's business world.
  14. Sometimes through prayers at the beginning of class. When the professor shares an example of how their beliefs actually made a difference in a situation out in the business world. David Carter does a great job talking about stewardship of God's possessions that we control for Him.
  15. Look at how actions affect people. As accounting majors, we deal in transactions, but how do those transactions affect people?
  16. The professors in the college provide good examples to students through their attitudes and beliefs they share in class.
  17. Yes. I have been encouraged by most of my professors in the classroom regarding our Christian walks. I think the most effective thing is when professors share their stories and their struggles they come across personally as a Christian in business.
  18. It doesn't seem to be talked about, but you notice it in the actions of the faculty and the ways they act toward other business people.
  19. Yes. Best through real world examples where Christians stand strong in their faith (also through scripture).
  20. I feel that COBA does a very good job of making the connection between Christian faith and business.
  21. Yes. It is effective enough. The faculty are very patient and loving. They are also understanding. I am happy to be here.
  22. No response.
  23. No response.
  24. No response.
  25. No response.
  26. I have seen many professors pray before their lectures. This has shown me that the professors are thinking about sharing their faith with me. Often, I think they pray that they will teach us effectively. The new prayer time that started in the mornings is a good step.
  27. Yes. A lot of emphasis on Christian faith and business. Ethics emphasis in class, ethic cases. I appreciate their sincerity. Excellent examples.
  28. Yes. I have noticed throughout my career at ACU that Dr. Pope and Dr. Howler have especially emphasized that above everything else, the Lord is first. Specific stories that serve as examples encourage me and help me to develop stronger ties with that teacher. When I know they struggle and overcome, I have greater respect and admiration for them.
  29. ACU, to me, is doing an excellent jog of presenting people who are successful in the world's eyes but would never consider giving up their faith to reach that success.
  30. In most of my upper level classes there is hardly any connection until we get to the section of ethics. Mainly, the professors are just teaching the material and not sharing personal experiences of their faith. I do notice that in my elective business classes (Personal Finance) they do bring in the Christian faith and apply it to the material.
  31. I think to some degree, yet at times in some classes, it appears to just be thrown in rather than well integrated. At some points, it appears to be put in as if this is something that needs to be present because we are a Christian university. I agree with what you have said about there being room for more and for the personal touch to be added.
  32. Some. I've had only a few professors even mention Christianity and/or God in class. I think there is definitely room for improvement.
  33. Yes. By example.
  34. Yes. Dr. Reid shows how following the laws of the Bible apply to many of today's laws.
  35. Yes. Through professor's examples in class and how they conduct themselves.

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Question # 3:What are some other methods that would help us be more effective at integrating faith and business in the classroom?

  1. Somehow I wish the more specialized classes (acct & finance) could integrate more faith to the classroom. Possibly, it could be as simple as personal real life examples from the professors that connect to the concept being studied. Also, a little more emphasis on ethics and why we believe in them would help.
  2. I think that if more teachers took time out of class to discuss what is truly important it would remind the students that even though business is their job, it is not their life.
  3. I think we could integrate faith and business by considering business situations and examples to what Christians could do in them that would reflect an action that Jesus would choose.
  4. Discussion in class and class participation.
  5. Set aside a certain amount of time each class period for applying it to the real world with a Christian aspect. Instead of using a problem from the book, use one with a Christian aspect or decision.
  6. Using Biblical examples to relate to class information. Begin/end class with prayer more frequently- more openly see the action faith of the professor would leave an impression on Christian and non-Christian students and possibly touch the heart of a non-believer.
  7. I would like to hear more real-life specific instances where Christianity can play an active role. Also, direct encouragement to stay strong coming from the professors would mean a lot. Prayer and scriptures relating to class is very encouraging to hear before class begins.
  8. Show us more scripture that relates to business decisions. Pray in class more.
  9. I would like to see more exemplification of our professor's faith as well as other Christian business people. Dr Lytle does a great job of this. I had Introduction to Marketing with him, and from that class, I now think of him as an example. Many professors do as well, but I would like to know more about the involvement of faith in my professors lives.
  10. Giving specific examples of how the professor or others have used Christianity in business. Have group discussions on how certain business situations should be handled as Christians. Films over the subject.
  11. Devoting maybe a class to reflect on their (professors) real experiences with this integration.
  12. Pray in the classroom that God will be with us and speak through the professors the way Jesus would with regards to business.
  13. More real-life examples and personal stories.
  14. No response.
  15. Talk more about Christian roles, not ethics. I think that everyone has ethics, but we, as Christians, should have higher standards.
  16. I think looking more to the Bible and using these illustrations in class when they are applicable.
  17. I think we have got to be open and talk about issues and hold each other accountable. We can learn the technical stuff on our own, but we need you to teach us how to emulate Christ in the workplace.
  18. Talk about it in the lectures. A lot of topics could be tied in. Also, show that you're serious. A lot of people take it as a joke, and they don't realize its importance until they are out of school.
  19. Possibly by giving more importance to these issues in lectures. We still need to realize that although education is very important, our final and greatest goal in life isn't just being successful, but to love, trust, and glorify our Lord. I feel that God wants us to be successful, but not if we pursue this through ungodly ways that don't glorify Him.
  20. I really appreciate those teachers who make it a policy to pray in class, it's just a subtle reminder of what our focus should be in everything we do (it can be especially difficult in business).
  21. Connect some theory or method to Christianity and ethics, rather than just plain business.
  22. No response.
  23. No response.
  24. No response.
  25. No response.
  26. I am really not sure. But, I think a good aspect that needs to be presented to us is how to manage the Church. We are future deacons and elders. We have taught how to deal with our personal problems by the Bible. But, we have not been taught, with a business perspective, how to deal with financial problems in the Church. What I want is to see professors give us examples, personal or created, of the problems that might arise in the business part of the Church. I know what is expected of me in the business world. Many times you must cut programs that are no longer needed. But, in the Church, how do you convince people this is a good decision financially while still following our religious beliefs?
  27. Outside examples of Christians who have succeeded in the business world. More specific examples of tough calls and wrangling with those issues so that when it comes up, you already know your response.
  28. Maybe just a simple solution like a prayer before every class. This usually occurs on the first day of class, but the idea seems to slip away when the semester gets going.
  29. More sermons integrated in. Maybe not every day, but much more often. Brad Reid and Rick Lytle do a good job.
  30. Take time out to discuss faith issues in class.
  31. No response.
  32. No response.
  33. No response.
  34. Many of the professors have practical experience. Relate stories of tough ethical decisions they have made or failed to make.
  35. Prayers.

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Question # 4:How can we create a sense of community between faculty and students on this issue? How can professors and students share the responsibility of integrating faith and business in our classrooms?

  1. I think the students should be able to share their personal experiences regarding ethics or their faith in business. This may require prompting from the professor, but it would help to make it a joint effort. It's always important for the students to play an active role in the classroom. This should include both business and faith.
  2. I think Mr. Fowler had a good point about how students see their professors solely in the classroom setting. I think a big part in moving toward a sense of community is getting out of the classroom - physically, or just mentally/academically.
  3. I think we could pray in class - perhaps at the beginning. This accomplishes two things: a) begins class right by talking to God, and b) shows students that the professor cares about us enough to pray for us and others. It also helps when my professors tell me about situations they have been in where they had two choices, and they had to think about what was right.
  4. Meetings such as this. Communication in the classroom on topics.
  5. I think the faculty does a great job of opening up their offices to the students, but students do not always respond. If professors share more in class, I believe students will share back. Kind of like the saying, "What goes around comes around." There are several different ways to share, whether it be in the classroom, in the office, or by example.
  6. The sense of community is great. It is very uplifting to see teachers at church and to hear them speak to you. I feel very comfortable talking to all of my business professors in their office or elsewhere- that feeling is not the same with professors in other departments. You are to be praised. Thank you.
  7. Conversations about the above. Asking students what they think.
  8. Pray more in class, and faculty try to get input or feedback from students about our views on the subject. Talk one-on-one about our views about certain subjects and how our faith relates.
  9. I think the "first day of class" introductions should be a time when our professors could explain how their faith has effected their business dealings and career. I think many of our professors have experiences which the students can learn from. These experiences can prepare us for the worldly temptations we will face upon graduation. I think we have great faculty-student relationships which help with integrating faith.
  10. Having discussions over the issue. Giving students assignments that allow them to speak in front of the class about the issue.
  11. I think we at ACU in the COBA, as well as all of ACU, already have a great sense of community. I also think that not just the professors should start the integration, but we as students should begin or push towards leading a discussion in that direction if it is feasible at that time.
  12. Give more personal experiences with how they dealt with it when they encountered it.
  13. Programs like SAFS give the faculty a chance to share their values with students. Perhaps having meetings solely for the purpose of discussing Christian perspective in business on a regular basis would be beneficial. Also, perhaps some sort of a project like weekend a weekend campaign or something like that.
  14. Include students in class discussion, real discussions and not just simple questions. Teach like it is a partnership, not just teaching from the position that the student can show up and if he/she learns, fine. Teach from the perspective that the teacher and student each share responsibility to increase the student's knowledge and wisdom. Emphasize this, because many times even though teachers believe this, sometimes the students cannot see it.
  15. No response.
  16. No response.
  17. No response.
  18. Discussions? A lot of students have thought about this and its just not talked about seriously.
  19. Possibly by being more open and sharing more together.
  20. No response.
  21. We are already a community, but I wish that the students would be able to share some of their problems with the faculty because the faculty are like mentors, and as young Christians, students need guidance in faith, relationships with people and God, and not just studies.
  22. No response.
  23. Have COBA chapel.
  24. No response.
  25. No response.
  26. No response.
  27. Personal examples.
  28. Have more, but not too much, personal reflections. Have a committee that sets up projects that will allow students and faculty to work side by side and develop more personal, deeper relationships.
  29. They should participate in prayer sessions together, such as the prayer breakfast. Also, sporting events might be fun so that the students see the faculty as people they can hang out with, not just as untouchable pillars.
  30. No response.
  31. I think that not being afraid to share personal experience and trials with students is a large one. In some ways, I think that we are prepared for the worst case scenarios of not having Christians to work with, rather than balancing that image with the positive.
  32. If more professors integrated Christianity, faith, etc. Into their lectures, and students became more accustomed to hearing it, then I think the students would be more open n that sense.
  33. Assignments requiring Christian perspective.
  34. Have students study the Bible from the perspective of how characters and teachings in the Bible relate to business.

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A Review of Literature Through the Eyes of Faith

by Darryl Tippens, Department of English

Gallagher, Susan V. and Roger Lundin. Literature Through the Eyes of Faith. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989.

What no person has a right to is to delude others into the belief that faith is something of no significance, or that is an easy matter, whereas it is the greatest and most difficult of all things.- S¯ren Kierkegaard

Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur. ["Whatever is received can only be received in the manner of the recipient."- a medieval hermeneutical principle

"For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are. 'To the pure, all things are pure;'. . . the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not defiled." - John Milton

       There is much in Literature Through the Eyes of Faith that I admire. It poses and answers a number of crucial questions about how to approach literary texts today - this side of the postmodern revolution in interpretati on theory. The book discusses such topics as: the importance of metaphor, the problem of multiple and contradictory interpretations, and how to deal with material that affronts Christian values or beliefs. In all these areas, Gallagher and Lundin are f air, generous, and balanced - without being strident or sectarian. It is a book full of excellent insights, relying on the work of many contemporary theorists. In fact, what I appreciate about the work generally is its ability to engage contemporary the ories and theorists without being too nervous, defensive, or dismissive. The book is learned and well documented with a full bibliography; yet it is written, for the most part, on a level undergraduates could understand.
       Chapter 3, one of the most interesting, concerns the power and function of narrative. Following Alasdair MacIntyre (34), Robert Bellah (34) and Wendell Berry (35-36), the book argues that a whole, healthy life requires that we see our lives in terms of a narrative. Here, it seems to me that we need some extensive conversation, for in contemporary America (especially for young Christians who have grown up on TV and life at the mall) people are caught between the mutually excl usive claims of competing narratives. Secular culture has already beqeathed to our students a rather clear plot before we ever meet them. Either they are consumers or, in words of eminent physicist Steven Weinberg, they are meaningless items in a pointl ess cosmos: "It is very hard to realize that this all [the earth] is just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless" (29). The other narrative - that we are sons and d aughters of God, created in his image, and destined to return to him - may be forgotten or erased by the dominant narrative of popular culture. If so, then our stories, whether theological or classically literary, may sound odd, hollow, or irrelevant.
       Perhaps most important, the book offers a theology of reading and studying literature. For Gallagher and Lundin, texts are written and read precisely because human beings are creative and thoughtful like our Creator:

. . . in this book we will promote the study of literature by emphasizing that God in Creation made all things good and that in the Incarnation he gave us his Son to make right what we have made wrong. Though literature can provide us with re laxation and with images of the world as it might ideally be, it is neither an escape from reality nor a saving transformation of it. Instead, it enables us to respond to the order, beauty, and grace of God and his world and to the disorder that our sin has brought into that world. (p. xxiv)

Why do people write and read texts? Why should Christians care about the study of literature? According to Nicholas Wolterstorff: "Man is to continue God's work of bringing forth order, cosmos" (45).
       As much as I like the book, and agree with its thesis, I think it misses a regrettable dimension in trying to lead students to texts. In its exclusive focus on what texts do, the authors fail to make clear that what tex ts do is very much related to three extra-textual factors: (1) first, whointroduces these students to the texts; (2) secondly, how the texts are introduced, that is, under what conditions; (2) whothe readers are, that is, wh o receive these texts. In other words, in Literature Through the Eyes of the Faith there is little notice of the contexts of reception, little understanding of what Louise Rosenblatt calls the "transactions" of literature, the social dimens ions of understanding texts.
       Gallagher and Lundin, most of the time sound like neo-Arnoldians who argue that great texts (Milton, Eliot, Melville, etc.) "increase our understanding of God's world, ourselves, and our neighbors" (49). Literature is good be cause it exposes ignorance and selfishness, teaches heightened sensitivity and sympathy (51), expands our factual knowledge, and provide "vicarious experience" (51).
       But I wonder: Is this necessarily so? More to the point, do our students, colleagues, and constituencies see it this way? Can't readers of literature, in fact, be as pagan, selfish, or insensitive as non-readers ? Does literature automatically civilize readers? Are all members of the MLA really so humane and virtuous? Does everyone who reads Charles Dickens or Harriet Beecher Stowe champion the causes of the underclasses? Would the world automatically be a be tter place if everyone read more literature? I don't think so, and neither, finally, do Gallagher and Lundin.
       Poetry is not a proper substitute for religion as Matthew Arnold believed (58). Gallagher and Lundin finally steer a middle course between the deconstructive types who believe literature has nothing to do with the external wor ld ("mere language games") and the Arnoldian view of literature as ersatz religion. Literature is not powerful enough or truthful enough to change people on its own. We only become better through Christ's redeeming grace and through the power of the Hol y Spirit (59), they maintain. Here is where I wish Gallagher and Lundin had given us more help.
       In some of the best material in the book, Gallagher and Lundin plunge into the question of how readers read. In these passages, I think they do fine work. Having learned from Gadamer and the phenomenological school, the write rs reject purely literary-aesthetic responses to texts. We must say no to the Romantic view of art as distinct from all other human products. The Romantic, Kantian, view of art-as-such is pervasive even today, I believe. It suggests that art is above, and even indifferent to, life. "Fine" art is to be distinguished from "useful" art.

To the Christian seeking to understand literature it is interesting to note that modern ideas about art arose as the cultural influence of Christianity began to decline. (72)

I believe this elitist, aestheticist position has had an adverse effect on our profession, and on the constituencies who are expected to fund our work and supply students. These constituencies, already heavily tinged with pragmatism, find in our elitest manifestoes further justification for abandoning the literary arts. Quite frankly, many people do not understand why our work is important, unless it is to teach better spelling, grammar, and punctuation. According to a recent survey of 1,300 U.S. high school students, respondents were asked to rate courses according to the courses' perceived importance - American literature courses were at the bottom of the scale, while courses in computers were rated at the top.1
       I believe that college English teachers who believe that literature is the vehicle of important values can correct this myopic understanding of the English curriculum. Our department is uniquely situated to teach the skills of communication, but also methods of analysis, and methods of weighing competing values that are greatly needed in our culture. I also suggest that this does not happen automatically, just by opening up Shakespeare, Chaucer, Hemingway or Hawthorne. We m ust weave a context for reading these texts. Everything depends upon how we read. That means understanding how our students are able, or not able, to read. We begin by finding the questions that matter most to our students; we must allow the living questions, so that we can then show how these texts address these living questions. If we provide answers first, before we have allowed the questions to emerge naturally and freely from our students' worlds, our teaching will be viewed at best as irrele vant, at worst as oppressive. Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur. ["Whatever is received can only be received in the manner of the recipient."
       In other words, we must think long and hard about the whole issue of presuppositions, conceptual frameworks, world views, horizons of interpretation. It's not enough to know the texts. We must know better the world in which o ur students are living, and we must help them to build bridges between these two worlds. (See William Willimon, "Reaching and Teaching the Abandoned Generation.") We need to think more clearly about our own interpretive methods (97-98).
       Gallagher and Lundin lead us to the edge of these important issues. While mentioning a number of interpretive methods, these writers clearly belong to a traditional, ethical school of criticism. They are not far removed from Kenneth Burke who sees literature as "Equipment for Living" or Wayne Booth who sees literature as ethically charged or Nicholas Wolterstorff who sees works of art as "instruments and objects of action" (xxv): "A piece of writing is a tool for action," th ey say (xxv). Specifically, they are instrumentalists: All works of art "provide various ways to participate in God's world" (xxvi). But, again, their focus is texts, not world, or audience, or pedagogy. We must forge our own way in these matters.

       I conclude by suggesting that we need to think, not only about texts, but about us and our students. I believe that our task is dual: we must practice in a most carefully balanced way reception and advocacy.
       By "reception" I mean such things as careful listening, welcoming. I think it means understanding the world from which our students come such as described by William Willimon. Texts are not absolute or monolithic - they can o nly be received according to the manner of the recipient. Therefore, I must welcome my students to reflect on their own stories, their own narratives. I must invite them to become more self-reflexive and reflect upon their own stories - to see if theirs is a true narrative or a broken or toxic one.
       I must admit that my "answers" may not help, unless I know what my students' questions are first. And if I think they are asking the wrong questions, then part of my duty is to lead them to consider alternative questions. I'm very good at talking. I must become better at holy listening. Our classrooms must become sites of hospitality where students feel welcomed, however much they fall below our ideals and expectations.
       To reception must be added "advocacy." Advocacy in the classroom is freighted with danger. It easily descends into dogmatism, pontification, and oppression. It can leap to closure before there is honest engagement, inquiry, and dialogue. However, there is a higher and better kind of advocacy that is also charitable, respectful, and courteous towards other opinions, ideas, and beliefs. For example, we can create space where doubts are raised. We live in a highly skeptical age and our students naturally partake of this atmosphere. Questioning, irony, the sardonic quip are to be expected. The "hermeneutics of suspicion" reigns in our field today. But the teacher who is secure in his or her faith, need not counter suspicio us skepticism with loud appeals to creeds or the Bible. Instead, we can ask our students to practice the hermeneutics of suspicion against itself. Authentic and honest interrogation leads one to be skeptical of skepticism itself. We must invite our stu dents to doubt their doubts.
       Albert Haley offers a wonderful example of this process in his little short story "Canoe," the story of Peter Hazlitt, a thoroughly secular man, whose total faith is in American materialism. But, in the story, Hazlitt's world falls apart. His secular creed does not sustain him. He comes to doubt his own narrow, secular creed. What happens when you stop believing in secularism? What happens when your nihilism no longer satisfies? When you no longer can believe in "nothing, " are you perhaps ready to believe in Something?
       I appreciate Gallagher and Lundin's book. It is well worth reading, most of all because it shows how very important literature is today; but they also, through their omissions remind me that the text is never enough. Texts sp eak more loudly when the wills, consciences, and personal narratives of readers and teachers are brought together in a rich setting of dialogue, inside and outside of the classroom.

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Connecting Faith and Values in the ACU English Department

Summary of Applications

Introduction
       Members of the ACU Department have given considerable thought to the ways in which our Christian faith impinges upon our curriculum, our teaching style, our objectives, and so forth. Because our faith is rooted and grounded in words, because Christianity is a hermeneutical religion (to use Paul Ricoeur's term), the study of language and literature can have enormous impact upon faith development. Because we teach texts-the reading and writing of texts, the interpretatio n, analysis, and application of texts-we are never far from issues of faith.
       Furthermore, given the particular design of the English Department at ACU, we have special opportunities to assist students in their spiritual growth. First, our department has contact with every student in the university. Se cond, we are often privileged to meet and know these students through relatively small classes. Third, through personal writing assignments (such as journal entries and personal response statements), English teachers are permitted a uniquely personal vie w of their students' lives. For all these reasons we feel a burden to be spiritual mentors and guides where possible.

Examples
       Our teachers follow a number of practices to encourage the connection of faith and learning in our discipline. Among them:
       1. Selections of readings. As teachers of literature, we select works that are not only considered excellent, but also we choose works that test and develop spiritual inquiry. ENGL 112 (Literature and Composition) wil l, next fall, have at its disposal a spiritually-oriented anthology specifically developed by members of the department. Even in courses that appear to be secular in content, our teachers are able to point out the hidden or implicit spiritual and moral c ontent of the texts.
       2. Reading strategies. Not only do we select readings with care, but we work hard to teach discernmentin reading. We want our students to recognize and uncover the values and beliefs implied in texts. One tea cher, for example, shows her students how to find the moral (and even spiritual) wisdom implicit in many children's literature narratives. Another instructor carefully balances readings so that works that challenge Christian belief are matched with readi ngs that support Christian understandings. For example, a poem questioning marriage is balanced by a story affirming the goodness of marriage, or Huxley's essay on agnosticism is balanced by Newman's Apologia. Some teachers talk extensively about "world views" as they are expressed in texts. Other teachers clarify the distinction between reading and truly "embracing" an idea. Some teachers show students how to "read against the text," how to expose a text's secular bias, so as to disarm the neg ative elements in a work.
       3. Writing assignments. Several members of the department require papers in which students are required to respond personally to readings in order to get students to articulate and clarify their values and beliefs.
       4. Mentoring relationships. Many of our faculty cultivate mentoring relationships through several avenues-informal, fireside chats; travel together to meetings; extended conversations over coffee, lunch, etc.; shared w ork on projects like "The Black Tulip" or Shinnery Review.
       5. Discussions of the profession. As English studies undergo major transformations, some teachers are openly encouraging their students to think through the issues of the profession which often have moral and spiritual implications. By introducing students to these issues now, incrementally, teachers hope students will be equipped with a faith strong enough to face a sometimes spiritually alienated profession.
       6. Course objectives. Nearly all the syllabuses in our courses include objectives that relate to our Christian faith. The mission statement for the literary journal Shinnery Review specifically discusses the ne ed for the journal to serve and honor the Christian purposes of the institution while respecting the points of view of non-Christian students.
       7. Curriculum. The department has developed one course specifically to introduce students to classic works of literature on spiritual themes (ENGL 471 Literature and Belief).

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Music Through the Eyes of Faith
by Harold Best
A Review by Paul Piersall

       Harold Best, author of Music Through the Eyes of Faith, brings to his writing a solid academic background and a deep Christian commitment. Professor Best is Dean of the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College, a performer, a p ublished scholar, and a lover of a great diversity of musics from around the world. His Lutheran background was rich in family tradition and his writing makes known his dedication, faith, and deep thinking about the relationship of his faith to his art.< br>

       Within the text he shows a great commitment to musical pluralism, an insistence on excellence, a humble Christian spirit which accepts great diversity, and an ability to establish a sense of unity between his life of faith and h is professional life as a musician.

       At the outset Best begins to lay a foundation for the points he wishes to stress in later chapters. Primarily he justifies a musical pluralism on the pluralism and diversity we see in God's creation. God pronounced his creatio n good--the very small and simplest creatures as well as those created with a larger brush stroke on life's canvas. He points out that we, too, should accept a musical stylistic pluralism from the smallest and simplest folk tune to the large symphony cre ated with a large brush stroke on music's canvas. Best attempts to define what music is by stressing that music is morally neutral and by reminding us that truth is not beauty (artistic creation) and beauty is not truth. Truth can override aesthetic bea uty, but aesthetic lapses cannot cancel out truth. Best then asks the question: "if inferior art will still carry truth, why strive for excellence." He makes the point that we should honor God by working as God does--by making all things good (certainly to the limits of our finite abilities).

       Best also addresses a subject with which we often have trouble. Is there music that is truly Christian music and music that is anti-Christian. Of course texts may be, but Best makes the point again that music is morally neutra l. Music is, however, very contextual, so that as we become more familiar with music in a particular environment it takes on more and more connection with that environment. Why do we find comfort just humming Amazing Grace--because of context, not becau se the notes or rhythms themselves have particular moral or spiritual value.

       And what of diversity? Best states that we should cherish diversity because God does. God not only imagines and creates with great diversity, but God called "good" everything in creation. As musicians we should practice such an acceptance.

       Best ponders "If God sees all things as good, why then should we evaluate music at all?" The answer is simple and straight-forward--humans are incurable evaluators. We evaluate any time we have choices. Best encourages us to make quality judgments within same musical categories--not between categories. This is hard for the musician who just knows that a Mozart Symphony is far superior to the current rap song, pop top 20 song, or even an old Beatle's tune.
       Best devotes a large segment of the text in dealing with excellence and value judgments. This is a particularly interesting section since he comes from a point of view developed out of his own musical pluralism. He attempts to describe what excellence is and is not and makes numerous practical statements to back up his more general concepts. Within his discussion Best acknowledges that God can use something mediocre to bring about a powerful result. But, as musicians, it is good for us to remember that "Holy shoddy is still shoddy."

       Another particularly interesting chapter of the book deals with the nature of worship, faith, grace and music making. His primary points come from a world-view which maintains that God, the one and only creator, is alone worthy of worship. (as musicians we sometimes almost worship the music we make). Whatever we do---we do as worshipers. Best summarizes by saying that "Christian musicians, while delivered from the fixation that there is an exclusively Christian music, know o f the larger graciousness of all good music. They know of the obligation they have to make music as an agent of God's grace. Music is freely made, by faith as an act of worship."

       Partly, I think, because of the great popularity of Contemporary Christian Music, Best spends a great deal of effort outlining the negatives and positives of this newest popular rage--particularly among Christian youth. It is e xcellent and thought-provoking reading for Contemporary Christian artists, would-be artists, Christian young people, and parents.

       Best obviously comes out of a different religious tradition than the Church of Christ. His section on music and the worshiping church will probably offend some and enlighten others. One point he does make that all of us would agree upon is that "Singing is not an option---it is a commandment." Of course, he also makes an equally forceful statement that playing instruments as worship is a commandment as well.

Best closes with two important tasks for the Christian who makes music:

  • We must make excellent art
  • We must understand that Christian artists are witnesses, whatever they do.

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Integration of Faith and Learning

Applications in the Music Department

The following statements reflect ways in which Music Department members are currently making application of faith within the music discipline:

  1. Having students into our homes on a regular basis
  2. Incorporating devotional periods into weekly rehearsal times
  3. Discussions of Christian faith within the context of the creative process - what is more important, the creation (composition) or the ultimate creator (God)?
  4. Time spent with the student on a one-to-one basis with discussion of life, faith, music discipline issues
  5. Putting phone # on syllabi to indicate a willingness to deal personally with each and every student - recognizing each as a very valuable person
  6. Placing in syllabus the objective "To encourage the student to establish a spiritual foundation and ministry for their talent"
  7. Developing a Christian Harmony, good will, encouragement between Music Faculty members - this demonstration of mature Christian relationships will mean a great deal to the students as they go to other schools which are often characterized by competit ion, resentment, and petty jealousness.
  8. Students and faculty pray together for productions, music events, for each other, and prayer requests mentioned before rehearsals begin
  9. Expectation of each student that they will produce only the best from God's special gifts to them and encouragement to achieve exceptionally high standards.
  10. Faculty members strive for fairness and equality in treatment of individual students
  11. Giving of extra time and energy to each student to help them succeed in classes and in performance
  12. We teach Christian commitment by excelling in what we do as Christian artists and we endeavor to excel in all areas in which we are involved -- this is especially needed because the arts within the Church (all churches) are at an all time low
  13. By loving the students, training them with Christian commitment, praise them, serve them, and proclaim our mission in the classroom we show our Christian faith and commitment to God's purpose being expressed in our lives as performers
  14. The history of music is both the history of religion and the history of society. Knowing the major trends of music will explain much of what we do in society and what society does to us. In Intro to Music we explain the pressures from historical move ments from Gregorian chant through the Enlightenment to the "Freedom" of modern art. We explain how all of us -- parent, child, teacher, elder -- are influenced by the same forces that shape music.
  15. We integrate faith into learning by not lowering standards to accommodate lack of effort and by keeping standards as high as we can.
  16. The choruses have a devotional time to begin and end each week of rehearsal. The devotional includes singing, scripture reading and comments, and prayer. The texts of the Great Sacred Choral Music give ample opportunity for discussion of Christian id eals and statements of faith by the poet and composer.

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