The Integration of Faith and Learning

The context for learning that combines a Christian community of learners and a balanced approach to truth–both revealed and discovered–enables the student to enter into a specific discipline of study seeking the integration of faith and learning.  Where in other educational contexts revealed and discovered truth remain fragmented entities, either by having no Biblical coursework at all, or by the accumulation of Bible credit hours to the detriment of an academically rigorous major, the Christian university student learns to unite genuine intellectual scholarship with authentic Christian piety.  The result is that what is developed within the young scholar are the qualities of vocational competence and Christ-centered character.  Both are essential, neither is sufficient.  For while the Christian university, like any other institution of higher learning, subordinates all other endeavors to the improvement of the mind in pursuit of truth, it also recognizes that truth, rightly understood, is not solely a cognitive commodity, but carries within it varying degrees of moral, spiritual, and social significance. 

This integration of faith and learning has been demonstrated in virtually every academic discipline down through ages--from Galileo to Louis Pasteur and from Sir Isaac Newton to Blaise Pascal.  C. S. Lewis encouraged young Christians to study philosophy, if only because bad philosophy would certainly exist, and, therefore, needed to be answered.  Robert Andrews Millikan, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1923, the first scientist to isolate and measure the electron also articulated this view.  In his 1924 Science and Life, he writes, “the scientific and the religious sides of life often come into contact and mutually support each other.  Science without religion obviously may become a curse, rather than a blessing to mankind . . . on the other hand, history has shown that religion without science breeds dogmatism, bigotry, and persecution.”  Expounding further on the proper role of science Millikan concludes, “Science, then, not only teaches that God is good, but it furnishes man with the most powerful of motives–to fit in with the scheme of goodness which God has provided.”

Belief in God as Creator provides the student with a place to stand in evaluating the culture and their chosen academic discipline.  There is no doubt that with God in the picture, the Christian student will become a dissenter from many theories taken for granted in current secular academia.  It will make them critical, in the appropriate sense of the word, of viewpoints that emphasize human freedom and creativity as supreme values divorced from any sense of limitation or obligation to community, created order, or, ultimately, to God. The effectual integration of faith and learning places God at the center of reality, rather than the individual, and gives to the Christian student a different set of lenses with which to view the world.  This ability to see things from a different perspective is an opportunity for the Christian scholar in every field of study, and also an obligation.

The student who recognizes that those who take the intellectual dimensions of their faith seriously will discover they can be responsible and creative participants at the highest levels of their chosen vocational calling, whether it be in the marketplace or the mission field.

In the last installment of this series, I will briefly touch on the end result of a Christ-centered liberal arts education–not only in the life of the learner, but also the culture in which he or she lives.

About OCU

Ohio Christian University is committed to offering a complete education that develops students intellectually, professionally and spiritually. OCU offers degree programs for residential undergraduate students, graduate students, and adult and online students. Every program is designed to equip students to become leaders in their careers, communities, families, and the world.