Posted April 19, 2003
Washington Theological Consortium
EcuNotes #16 (February 2003)
PROFESSING IN THE POSTMODERN ACADEMY: FACULTY AND THE FUTURE OF CHURCH?RELATED COLLEGES. Edited by Stephen R. Haynes. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2002. Pp. xv + 360. Cloth, $34.95.
This volume emerged from a series of inter-denominational faculty?consultations on the future of church?related colleges under the sponsorship of the Lilly Endowment in conjunction with Rhodes College (Memphis, TN). The editor's insightful review of research on church?related higher education is the prelude to a dozen well written essays on four topics:  "postmodern opportunity";  "academic vocation";  "pedagogy and praxis";  "mission and curriculum." Two general impressions emerge from reading this collection: first, the religious ethos of church-related colleges seems directly proportional to the dedication of faculty?members whose religious commitment often prompts them to sacrifice better salaries that they could obtain elsewhere; second, while scientific positivism in the 20th century often relegated religion to the fringes if it did not exclude it entirely, postmodernism may well be more welcoming to religion than scientific modernism ever was.
THE FUTURE OF RELIGIOUS COLLEGES. Edited by Paul J. Dovre. Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans, 2002. Pp. xi + 368. Paper, $30.00.
The years after the Second World War saw not only a tremendous expansion of American Higher Education but also significant changes in the relationship of many church?related colleges to their denominational sponsors. The eighteen essays in this volume, the products of a project sponsored by the Olin Foundation and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, address the title topic: what will be "the future of religious colleges"? The responses, while generally optimistic though sometimes guardedly so, are as diverse as the different denominational traditions of the authors: Anabaptist?Mennonite, Baptist, Evangelical, Latter?Day Saints, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Reformed, Roman Catholic. Anyone concerned about religion in higher education will find this an engaging volume that provides: an historical panorama of 20th century church-college tensions illustrated by case studies of selected colleges; theoretical discussions of church?college relationships; programmatic proposals for embodying religious visions; and even legal analysis of the constitutional church?state separation as it pertains to religious colleges.
THE NEW FAITHFUL: WHY YOUNG ADULTS ARE EMBRACING CHRISTIAN ORTHODOXY. By Colleen Carroll. Chicago: LoyolaPress, 2002. Pp. xi + 320. Cloth $19.95.
While many young adults in "Generation X" continue searching for the ultimate spiritual experience, some have apparently found an institutional home in traditional Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches and to a lesser extent in "high church" Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. These "new faithful," who are often intellectually talented and economically successful, seek certitude in their commitment to God in a church community that supports their basic moral stance and provides opportunities for serving others. The present book is not a scientific sociological study, but a work of journalism that assembles numerous interviews, personal reflections and news items into an engaging collage that provides an "insider's feel." Since the "new faithful" are now a vocal segment of the student-body at some seminaries and potentially the future leaders of churches, seminary-faculty should find this very readable book of special interest.
William Rusch, ECUMENICAL TRENDS 32/1 (January 2003) 1-4, raises the provocative question "What is Keeping the Churches Apart?" In spite of the fact that the 20th century witnessed increased inter-denominational cooperation and significant ecumenical agreement, Rusch highlights some reasons -- both "justifiable" and "unjustifiable" for the continued separation of churches.
An issue that has long separated Episcopalians and Presbyterian is the former's insistence on the "historic episcopate" and the latter's emphasis on "corporate episcope"; in light of the recent establishment of "Churches Uniting in Christ," Joseph Small suggests a possible approach to mutual recognition of ministries from a Presbyterian perspective in "Undivided Plural Ministry," ECUMENICAL TRENDS 32/1 (January 2003) 5-11.
The most recent issue of THE JURIST (60/1) contains a useful set of essays examining religious law in five Christian traditions -- Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist -- and in four world religions: Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Zen.