Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Christian Cultural Theory

Smith begins this next section by suggesting that the Christian educational institution has accepted the notion of the informative over the formative in the last few decades:
Many Christian schools, colleges, and universities--particularly in the protestant tradition--have taken on board a picture of the human person that owes more to modernity and the Enlightenment than it does to the holistic, biblical vision of human persons. In particular, Christian education has absorbed a philosophical anthropology that sees human persons as primarily thinking things. (31)
Through the integration of faith and learning (a phrase that I have heard countless times at my own institution as well as at other "ideologically specific" institutions), students will learn a "Christian worldview," since they are being taught their disciplines from a Christian perspective. The ideas then inform how we behave.

I'm not sure that Smith is suggesting this is necessarily wrong, but he claims that we are more than just our ideas: "Weren't we created as embodied creatures?" (32) It is through the material practices of Christianity that our thoughts change: it's regrettable that Smith uses such language as "heart" for where these impulses reside, but perhaps there is little vocabulary to describe the source of desire in the human person.

Smith's project is a grand one: he wishes to formulate a new sort of Christian cultural theory.

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