Words from Wood-Mar
Integration of faith and learning
“We need to
mix up the university,
The book Simply Christian, by Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright, suggests that in North America it has been axiomatic that “religion and spirituality should stay in their proper place — in other words, well away from the rest of real life.” At George Fox University, we work deliberately to bring our Christianity into the center of the “rest of real life.”
For us, that means the integration of faith and learning. Some suggest that it is impossible to provide both academic excellence and distinctively Christ-centered programs. George Fox University addresses this question directly in our deliberate efforts to bring our Christian faith, the academic disciplines, and the learning environment into coherence. Our faculty is evaluated by how well they accomplish this integration.
But how do you position an institution such as George Fox? Our marketing efforts need to be accurate and attractive to demand attention from those with whom we seek to communicate. We join associations and consortia to tell the world we are “like” the other members of these groups. Then, we go to great lengths to articulate our distinctives, which set us apart from other universities. To be successful, George Fox must be both like and unlike other institutions.
Christ-centered universities maneuver in a challenging environment where we want to give students academic programs as excellent as the best universities that are not Christ-centered, while letting students know that our programs are indeed Christ-centered and not exactly like comparable programs elsewhere.
What is even more difficult is how the larger university is integrated with our society. Is the university more like the church or the academy? Do we protect the university from the neighborhood, or protect the neighborhood from the university? I believe Bishop Wright is correct in suggesting that we need to mix up the university, our society, and our Christ-centeredness. Are we willing to create a new flavor where the individual flavors are sometimes hard to find? True integration of anything is often difficult. If we genuinely integrate our faith with learning, let’s also integrate our faith with the rest of life. It could be a marvelous combination.
Dr. David Brandt