WACO, TX.--The Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning (BIFL) and the Council of Christian Scholarly Societies will be sponsoring "Christianity and the Soul of the University: Faith as a Foundation for Intellectual Community", March 25-27, at Baylor University.
Douglas Henry, director of the BIFL, states on the event's promotional web site that the purpose of the conference is to "explore the role that reflective Christian faith can play in unifying the intellectual life of the university."
Henry, also an assistant professor of philosophy at Baylor University, said, “This conference will explore a subject that we regard as particularly important: How as persons of faith might we understand our Christian conviction as at the center and core of what it means to be teachers and scholars?”
He noted the importance of factoring faith into the character of the university.
A Christian university, according to Henry, ought to see itself organized in light of the life and example of Jesus Christ, and therefore in command of resources conducive to the unity of the academic disciplines and the merits of real community. Henry says Christian universities need not be like secular academic institutions, which too often can be characterized by “disciplinary divides, ideological chasms, fractured faculties, and intellectual incoherence.”
To the contrary, “the idea of this conference is to understand how Christianity provides helpful resources for the aims of learning that are generally absent within the secular academy but available for church-related institutions,” Henry said.
When asked in what ways Christianity has directly influenced the university, Henry noted that the very first universities were all birthed in the context of Christianity, giving Cambridge and Oxford as examples.
“The Western university was formed in the context of Christian faith, committed to the proposition that all truth is God's truth and inquiry, and thus willing to see the asking of questions as something neither to fear or shy away from, because by learning about the world God created, we learn something of the character of God,” said the professor.
In the modern context, “Christians can also provide superior moral leadership” as a result of that heritage, added Henry.
The event will include five plenary sessions and breakout sessions where selected scholars will present specific subject matter from their written papers. According to Henry, five of the “best and brightest minds” will speak during the five plenary sessions.
Although some college students occasionally join the conferences sponsored by the BIFL, the majority of the 350 registrants for this conference will be an intellectual community of academic and religious scholars representing various geographic locations and denominations.
“Participation is ecumenically diverse ranging from the non-denominational and evangelical end of the spectrum to Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Catholics,” said Henry.
For the list of the event’s plenary speakers or for more information on the conference, visit the website.