Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

Christian Scholars and Tenure

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In the most recent issue of “The City,” a publication of Houston Baptist University, Owen Strachan interviews Douglas Wilson and asks, What words do you have for young Christian faculty members at secular institutions that are seeking tenure? What do they do in these kind of university climates?

Wilson: “I would echo the words of Robert George at Princeton, who spoke at commencement at New Saint Andrews a few years ago. At dinner afterward, Peter Leithart asked George what advice he would give to young scholars in this situation—how did you do it? Robert George said that he did it with both guns blazing. Obviously everyone’s situation is different and you can’t have a one-size-fits-all thing. The gatekeepers in these universities are pretty astute, and they watch the gates carefully. If you’re so far in the closet that you can see Narnia, when they find out and let you go, you’ve given them deniability. They can say “it wasn’t his evangelical faith, but the quality of his work” or something like that. If you’re clearly an evangelical and there’s a hit job on you in the department, that possibility will be clear to those who are watching the situation. Now, I don’t think you should be unnecessarily scrappy. But I do think it’s important for Christians to be clear, and if God wants them to be promoted then they will, like Daniel in Babylon.”

Perhaps this servers as a good illustration for how Christians should engage the general public, too, in defending the faith with conviction. Wilson had to face this issue personally in a lecture at Indiana University in 2012 on biblical sexuality. It’ll do us no good if we couch our language in vague terms, failing to define what we mean, or skirting issues entirely. We should come with both guns blazing.

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Written by Josh Philpot

December 7, 2013 at 8:00 am

Posted in Culture

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