What Makes a School Christian?

In this episode, Darrell Bock, Christina Crenshaw, and Perry Glanzer highlight the importance of Christian higher education and the significant role it can play in building up the body of Christ.

About The Table Podcast

The Table is a weekly podcast on topics related to God, Christianity, and cultural engagement brought to you by the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The show features interviews with guests who are experts on the chosen topic, and each episode is hosted by a member of The Hendricks Center’s team.

Timecodes
1:30
Perry’s Background in Higher Education
3:01
Christina’s Background in Higher Education
5:44
Teaching and Research Based Education
11:36
What Makes a University “Christian”?
15:41
Methods to Foster a Christian Experience in the Classroom
33:00
How to Think as a Christian in Public Spaces
40:01
Faculty Must be Good Stewards
54:23
What Should Parents Look for in a Christian College/University?
Transcript

Darrell Bock: 

Welcome to The Table. We discuss issues of God and culture. I'm Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And our topic today is higher education, in particular Christian higher education. And I have two wonderful guests. Perry Glanzer is Professor of Educational Foundations at Baylor and the School of Education there and Residence Scholar at Baylor Institute for the Study of Religion. I have to take another breath because he's also Editor-in-Chief of what is it, Scholars Review. I have that right? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Christian Scholars Review. 

Darrell Bock: 

Christian Scholars Review, got to have the Christian in there. That's important for our conversation. And then Christina Crenshaw is associate here at the center and formally taught in lots of places at Baylor. So she was in the English department, she was in department of education, did a lot of work with on communication and that kind of thing. And Christina's been with us on and off over the last three years as working with the center first as a visiting scholar and now as an associate. So first of all, welcome to you all. I really appreciate you being a part of our conversation on Christian higher education. 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Yeah, thanks for having us. 

Darrell Bock: 

So let me begin, this is a question I always ask someone who has joined us for the first time, Perry, and that is, how did a nice guy like you get into a gig like this, what are the origins of your involvement in education and Christian education in particular? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Well, it all went wrong at Rice University where I thought I was going to be an electrical engineering major and then decided to do what I enjoy instead of what I thought would make money and get a job. And so I became a history, political science and religion major. And while I was there, I as a part of a Christian group and went overseas to Thailand. And when I was there I saw a professor at a Christian university there in Thailand making a tremendous difference. I thought, "I think that's what I'd like to do." 

And so I made it my goal then to become a professor who would teach, especially overseas, was my goal. And so I went down that track. I ended up teaching overseas in Russia for a year, but due to some various difficulties, we had to come back. And so I ended up in the United States, which ended at Baylor, which is really where I never thought I'd be. And I also ended up in the school of education instead of... My PhD's in religion, which I wasn't sure about when I first started. I thought, well this will be interesting. And it's actually been wonderful because I love the interdisciplinary nature of it. So that's how I ended up. 

Darrell Bock: 

That's interesting. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Doing this sort of thing. 

Darrell Bock: 

Being from Dallas, I might say, well maybe Waco is kind of like being overseas. Who knows? But anyway, Christina, what about your story? I don't think we've told it. So how did you end up being in the area that you're in? 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Yeah, I think I've told it on a few other podcasts, but I'm going to start it actually with Dr. Glanzer. I mean, I could start it well before then. I had taught high school English, already had my master's degree, but I met Dr. Glanzer in my doctoral program. He was actually one of my professors. And I sometimes joke when I tell the story, I lament that I didn't take his class sooner. I think just the sequence of curriculum, it was my last semester, but it was the first class I had taken in all of my education undergrad, masters... And here I am at a Christian university, it's the first class that challenged me to think interdisciplinary, but to think Christianly about the work that I was doing. 

That there really is a distinctly different way and a different approach and a different heart motive for approaching the classroom when you put it through a Christian lens. And that then inspired my dissertation. I think Dr. Glanzer knows that story, but I came to his office and I said, "Give me all of the great Christian thinkers." Most of them were coming out of Biola. I remember really looking through a lot of different Christian worldview texts, and again, I wrote my dissertation on that and decided at that point that I wanted to really pursue Christian higher education and Christian teaching. 

Darrell Bock: 

Well, let's talk about the Christian higher education institution, but let's start generally with higher education in general. And actually, the way PhDs are set up are a nice way to think about this and walk into this conversation. Because if you do a PhD, generally speaking in the United States, you take classwork alongside the writing of your PhD. And so at least that's the way most of the programs that work in theology work in seminaries and that kind of thing. You're taking anywhere from a year, well theoretically a year, 30 hours of classwork and then you write your dissertation. Whereas if you do a dissertation overseas, it's a strictly research-structured degree. 

So in the United States you've got classroom and research. In Europe, you've got the strictly research degree, which shows the direction and the focus of most universities in a European context. And I think that one of the tensions in higher education among many things that are discussed is to what extent are faculty aiming at their research and writing direction and at what extent are they committed to the classroom. So let's start there. Perry, since you work in education, so obviously the classroom's important to you, just elaborate on that a little bit and why that's an important part of this conversation. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, I would say it helps to understand that there's different kinds of universities throughout the world, but particularly in the United States, some of them are really mainly teaching colleges. And so research is not the primary focus of those. Especially if you hear the term liberal arts college, and so a lot of those, they specialize in teaching and that is really their focus. But then there are others, especially the big state institutions, or institutions like Notre Dame and Baylor, that are research universities where half of what the professor does is related to teaching the other half to research. 

And certainly, in a fallen world, there are those who maybe neglect part of their job, maybe they neglect the teaching for their research or they neglect their research for their teaching, or perhaps they neglect both. But also from my experience, most professors are really quite serious about both. And particularly at a Christian university like Baylor, I have found professors, especially I do what are called exit interviews with seniors at Baylor, and we ask about the moral and Christian influence of their professors. And by and large it has been very strong and very healthy in terms of some of those relationships both in the classroom and outside the classroom. 

Darrell Bock: 

So part of the tension that I'm raising by making these kinds of distinctions, of course what happens at most Christian schools is that research, generally speaking, is not as central as it is in some university context. You're busy just covering the array of classes that you have to teach. And so teaching tends to be a priority at most Christian, at least seminaries, that I'm aware of. And I think that's generally true of Christian colleges. And then we've got the old discussion about do you call yourself a college? Do you call yourself a university perhaps to distinguish that balance to a certain degree? So Christina, as I think about this and you think about your own career in particular, talk about that tension between the pursuit to write and grant tenure and bring institutional credibility to a school which comes significantly often through the research arm of the school versus the teaching and the focus on the classroom and the focus on the students. 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Yeah. Well I would say, Dr. Bock, a lot of it depends, as Dr. Glazer mentioned, on the university and the university expectations. But a lot of it also depends on the personality of the academic. I knew just on my own pedagogical experience that I was bent more towards teaching than research. I'm definitely an inquiry-driven person, but would much rather be with students than just strictly in my office crunching data, doing quantitative data. So I think that people tend to gravitate, really the reality is often you get a job that the tenure-track positions are very difficult to come by. 

But I was lucky enough right out of my doctoral program to land a tenure-track position at California Baptist University, which is a teaching institution. And so then my teaching load was heavier than say a tier-one research university like Baylor University. But yeah, I think that the tension isn't really... Sometimes I feel like it may be a little bit more manufactured than it is in reality. Certainly the pressures at a tier-one research school, state school, private school are going to be heavier on the research than the teaching and then vice versa. But I have found that people generally enjoy both and then sort of lean into their bent the way that the Lord has wired them. For me personally, it was more towards classroom teaching, the discipleship, being with students. 

Darrell Bock: 

Now obviously there are lots of other issues related to just being in higher ed that we don't have time to discuss and in some ways won't be a direct part of this conversation. The things about how expensive education has become for people and the debate over the value of the degree in light of the proliferation of opportunities that exist elsewhere, the pressures of online, et cetera. But I think understanding the core nature of a school that is engaged in higher education, which is both in the classroom and also being a place to do reflection and research is the core of the way universities have always operated and thought about themselves. So now I ask the more distinctive question, which is, so what makes a university Christian? And let me try and layer this a little bit with the touch of a taxonomy. It's Christian if your initial approach is to make sure that your faculty members are believers that, think of that as level one. 

I'm not going to do the tier one, tier two thing that you do with research, but think of it that way. It's Christian if you work harder to develop your faculty with the particular Christian distinctives. It's Christian if the Christian worldview is the prominent or a prominent lens in classroom discussions on given issues. And I've treated these as distinct, but I think the way I'd like to think about them is they're related to each other in one degree or another. These aren't distinct categories, but I'm thinking about level of intentionality, I think, with regard to what it is that you're doing. So Perry, talk about that. What makes a university a Christian university? And maybe the real question is, are there levels of Christian in the university? 

Perry Glanzer: 

The answer to your second question is absolutely. The answer to your first question, I've actually just written a book on this topic. There are actually what I identify as 12 markers that empirically mark a Christian university all the way from mission to, do you require a class that favors Christianity? Do you privilege Christian worship on campus? Is Christian rationale offered in your student conduct code, for example, for particular maybe rules or virtues, you set forth? You have a community covenant, these sorts of things. 

So there's actually, and there's a whole range, there's about 580 of these Christian universities from various traditions throughout the United States with, as you can imagine, a whole range of commitment to them. I would say the ones that show a high commitment are the ones that you indicated have certain markers that they require all their faculty, not only their faculty, but their staff and their administrators to be Christians and also that they engage, they require courses that make sure and pass along the Christian tradition and that they engage in faculty and staff development that encourages what I call to call Christ-animated learning. Those are some of the principle characteristics. So for example, just to give some concrete examples, TCU and SMU, although historically Christian, they have not one of these markers. 

Darrell Bock: 

Interesting. Yeah. 

Perry Glanzer: 

So they are no longer in. It is interesting, I was talking with my dad in the car and he kind of talked about TCU being a Christian university. I said, "Actually dad, it's not. It has not one of these markers, the 12 markers." Now there's some that only have two of those markers. These are especially old mainline colleges. What's interesting is a lot of the the historically black colleges and universities, a lot of those have secularized. 

So there are some markers there, but not as many as there used to be. And so there's two groups that have a lot of these markers, and those are the groups associated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. And then there's also a group of what I call more Baptist Churches of Christ or independent colleges or Seventh-Day Adventist colleges that are not affiliated with the CCCU. And those also have a high number of those markers as well. For example, Andrews University would be an example, it's a top Seventh-Day Adventist University or perhaps Liberty University would be another one of these, like Grove City College, although mainline historically has another one that has high markers. 

Darrell Bock: 

So that's interesting because you moved into realms that not only involved the classroom but involve the issue of worship. So I'm taking it that there's an offer of chapel and that kind of thing that's associated with one of the markers. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yes. That you privilege Christian worship, whether at a Catholic institution, that'd be mass. Or in Catholic universities it's always voluntary, almost always, except for a few exceptions. Or at a Protestant institution chapel. And that can be either voluntary or required. It depends on the institution. 

Darrell Bock: 

But even the- 

Perry Glanzer: 

But it's privileged. 

Darrell Bock: 

Yeah, I was going to say, even the fact that it's offered is making a certain kind of statement that gives availability to the ethos of the school. And I guess what we're suggesting here is that the education is more than what happens in four walls between the bells ringing, that there's an ethos that's created in the environment on campus and the way in which issues are pursued, the way in which life outside the classroom is pursued, that becomes a part of this, that becomes a part of this conversation. Christina, as you think about that, what do you find in the environment that tends to be helpful in building this Christian ethos, this Christian air around the classroom? 

Christina Crenshaw: 

So I was really driven by essentially this question when I was in grad school. Our programs, you had noted earlier like a 30-hour PhD program, most of the PhD programs I'm familiar with outside of theology are a 77-hour plus program, that's what mine was, and it was towards the end of all of that coursework that I finally asked the question, what does it mean to intentionally integrate faith? What does it mean to actually distinctively set the tone of your classroom that is bent towards a Christian worldview or integrates Christian worldview? And so that was really the impetus for my research for my dissertation. And I went around to several different Southern California schools that were part of the CCCU. That was part of my litmus for choosing different schools, that they were part of that coalition. And I sat down with faculty and with presidents and administration and I asked questions. 

Tell me about your mission statement. Tell me about how you intentionally disciple faculty. Tell me how you disciple students. And what I found was one of the first markers was how overtly they stated their rhetoric that not too surprising when you looked at schools, like you had named TCU and SME with a historical Christian mission, but maybe are not any longer by their own choosing part of the CCCU. They're not necessarily trying to be evangelical or disciple from a distinctly Christian worldview. They didn't necessarily put that rhetoric on their website or in their mission statements. It wasn't found in different faculty syllabi and it certainly wasn't found in any sort of a chapel context. I think I remember learning, and Perry would probably have better research on this or more recent research, but that there was actually a correlation between how often chapel was offered and how distinctly Christian the university wanted to be or purported to be. 

And so I think that you know have kind of a top down the ethos at the top and then you have the individual ethos of the professor's classroom. And then of course we haven't even really talked about student life yet, which Perry could give more insight to. But I would say that there are different markers and indicators as Perry had mentioned. But what I have found to be distinct is how much a university purports that they want to be unapologetically Christian, so to speak. But that was a big distinction right off the bat as I was doing my research. 

Darrell Bock: 

So as I think about this, Perry, you said something earlier that caught my attention as you said it, which meant I saved it and said I want to come back to it. And it's this, you talked about schools becoming more secularized. And when I think, particularly in research areas and that kind of thing, and particularly, and this does isn't limited to just the humanities, this can move into the sciences and that kind of thing. 

I'm thinking about the research dimensions of a school and the school wanting to have a reputation of being a place of academic rigor and excellence and that kind of thing. The pressures that push in that direction, which puts you in a much bigger world than just a Christian world. And you're coping with a kind of pluralism that the church wrestles with in its everyday space in our world. And the tensions between that and being Christian about it, if I can say it that way, tell me how you see that particular space, that particular tension. Because that seems to me to be a place where schools really have to wrestle with and almost be intentional about the way they are going to be Christian. 

Perry Glanzer: 

In my research, I like to break it down, you see three approaches. One I call the Christ-assumed approach. It's assumed that if we hire Christians, the Christian worldview is going to seep out of them automatically. They're going to think Christianly about their discipline. And I think that's a problematic view because, as we know, to be excellent in something takes intentionality. It takes development whether it's excellent in a sport or music and also in academic discipline. And so that's one approach. The other approach is what I call the Christ-added approach. And you kind of almost referenced it. It's that okay, we'll kind of do things normally like how sick a university would do, but we'll add chapel or perhaps if I'm teaching a classroom doing research, maybe I'll add a little section on maybe spirituality in nursing. And it's one class or two, or maybe it's in business, we'll have a class maybe on what does it mean to be a Christian business person. 

But it's just added, it doesn't really affect the whole class or even the whole graduate program, like Christina talked about. Then there are third approach is what I like, the one I like to champion and that is what I call the Christ-animated approach. And in this approach, I think with Christ-animated scholarship, you're thinking, what does it mean to be an excellent Christian and fill in the discipline, an excellent Christian biologist, an excellent Christian accountant, an excellent Christian social worker. And then you're thinking about how do I think about my whole, the work I'm doing, the scholarship, but also even my discipline in light of the overall Christian story. 

For example, perhaps in business, what is it about the doctrine of creation and treating people that they are made in the image of God? How might that change and transform business? How is my discipline fallen? How is business fallen? How do we redeem business as an academic discipline, but also actual businesses? How do we redeem them? So you start thinking in bigger terms and bigger questions and you don't just add a little bit, a day where you talk about spirituality in business. You want to go, "Okay, how does Christian virtue transform all of business?". It's a much deeper project. And I will say it's much more difficult and it takes a lot of great faculty and staff development to do it. 

Darrell Bock: 

So what I'm hearing alongside this is that universities that want to be intentionally Christian, don't just hire their faculty, trust their Christian confession, put them in the classroom and say, go and teach. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Right. 

Darrell Bock: 

There's something more intentional. There's a faculty development process. There's actually, I think... I'm on the board at Wheaton, so I'm in this conversation as well, not just being at a seminary. And it strikes me that having faculty think about not just how they think about the space and how they even build their classrooms around the space, but even how they address the issue in public when they're engaging on a topic and modeling what that looks like is also extremely important to think through. And I know a lot of faculty members who will speak in a public environment in such a way as to be, I'm going to say this academically acceptable and comfortable. And as a result there'll be a muting of the Christian element of their thinking about certain areas. And in my mind, that doesn't help the Christian university that they're representing. 

Perry Glanzer: 

In all my study, I would say a secularization often doesn't happen from nefarious motives. It often happens mainly because you love your neighbor more than you love God. I mean, you just disorder your love. And so as a result you think, "Oh, in order to be hospitable, I'll secularize and not speak theologically," and that I think is a major problem. I also want to add, I mean, you mentioned being on the board. I would say administrators play a key role. One of the key failures I see of Christian administrators, both presidents, VPs and or people on the board, is that they fail to develop incentive systems that reward Christian distinctively Christian scholarship, distinctively Christian teaching, distinctively Christian service. Instead, they reward just good teaching, which was what UT does, or good scholarship, but they don't create incentive structures that will help faculty pursue these Christ-animated scholarship teaching and service. 

Darrell Bock: 

And I think the other challenge is that in the general discipline that a person works in, and I'm assuming now a liberal arts and humanities background, maybe to a certain degree, that the larger area isn't necessarily interested at all in any religious dimension of those conversations. I mean, not just Christianity, but any religious dimension at all. And so as a result, the job of figuring out how to be Christian in the public space is left to the Christian institutions to develop and pursue, because it's not being pursued anywhere else. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, absolutely. I just did research on higher education journals. Not one of them has polished hardly anything about Christian higher education in the past two decades. They just don't care. The Australian Journal of Education I just looked at and had a conversation with their editor, and I noted Australia actually has a pretty robust even state-funded system of K-12 Christian education, but yet the Australian Journal of Education doesn't have one journal article about Christian education. 

In fact, the comment was by the editor, "Well, our audience isn't really interested in that." So yeah, it really is up to Christian higher education leaders. And the good thing is we have developed Christian professional societies and Christian journals, recently, Christian Scholar's Review being one of those, in which we have those conversations. And that's really just come about the last four decades. Faith and Philosophy, for example, would be another journal, biblical... Well, there's a variety of journals pretty much in every discipline that talk about the relationship between Christianity and business or Christianity and journalism Christianity and social work, for example. That's where those conversations are taking place, and we're doing a better job of cultivating that, I think. But there's a lot more to go, and a lot more to do. 

Darrell Bock: 

And so the challenge becomes, in the way, it illustrates the nature of the problem. I mean the fact that you have major educational journals globally that don't walk into the space at all. I'm going to express an irony that just popped in my head. The irony is, and I'm going to talk about religion in general here for a second, the irony is that religion is a very important force, formative social force in the world. But in the educational field, it's almost like a ghost. It's there and we all know it and we all know it's important and influential, but we don't talk about it. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, no, actually I can tell you there's a group of us Christians who try to get a special interest group is what it's called, at the American Educational Research Association started. We failed. They were not interested in starting that special interest group. And I will say I wasn't the leader on that. There's some other great leaders who were doing that initiative, but they just weren't interested in allowing a space for Christians to have that discussion. 

Darrell Bock: 

So the impact of that can be on students in the class. This is why part of the Christian education thing is so important. If that's the default in education in general, no matter what the discipline. And Christians don't develop a conscious, intentional way to engage from a Christian point of view, that will be the default of the students who get graduated, right? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Oh, absolutely. In fact, one of the problems with a lot of Christian college and universities is they're hiring PhDs from secular programs. And those secular programs, most of those PhDs, kind of like Christina's experience, maybe the first part of her experience for the large part of it, they haven't been asked questions, "Okay, what does it mean to do this Christianly or think Christianly about this?". Even though Christianity is maybe their foremost identity, and we're all into identities these days, but wait a minute, we need to talk about the intersectionality of Christianity and the rest of our identities. Even at secular institutions, we need to do that. But for the most part they are not. 

Darrell Bock: 

And the only place you see it sometimes is in the context of... There was a huge period of time, I think it's still somewhat true in the general media, where there was probing of the Christian influence on X, whatever it is in the public square. A lot of attention given to evangelicals that started probably in the 1970s, you had the year of the Evangelical, I think in 1976, et cetera. And you have a lot of religion reporters who didn't know very, who would self-admit when you were in interviews with them. "I don't know a lot about Christianity," but here they are covering the space and trying to make sense out of it on a time deadline, which puts them under pressure to write. And boom, and sometimes that's done with an edge. I might even say a lot of times that's done with an edge, but that space is actually pretty important. And the ability to address that space is going to be a product of how well Christian people in a variety of disciplines have been prepared to walk into those spaces. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Absolutely. I think I will say this, one of the best preparations for me was I worked in public policy three years before I took an academic job and had to learn, it was for a Christian organization, I had to learn how to think Christianly in that public policy space that was very pluralistic and sometimes antagonistic. And I would encourage anyone who is in academia to try and... I mean, I think that that kind of experience can help sharpen and give you courage, I think, too, in those public spheres. 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay. Christina, as we're kind of roaming here a little bit, any observations you want to make about some of the things we've in particular just been talking about? 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Yeah. Well, I would say it strikes me that the way that we integrate faith at a Christian university or we become distinctly Christian really isn't all that different than the way that a Christian may run their classroom or design their classroom. I was really intentional when I taught faith and writing at Baylor to give my students Timothy Keller excerpts from Generous Justice, for example, or when I took Dr. Glanzer's class, we read Comenius, which I don't think that I would've ever read otherwise. 

It's really a book on worldview. The Labyrinth, I think is the title of the book. And that was the first time that I had actually sat to read all of confessions, Augustine's confessions. And so I think that giving students those so formative, transformative, transcendental experiences is what a faculty member can do. But it strikes me that at a Christian university, that sort of culture has to come from top-down and it's guiding faculty towards these transcendental, transformative, soul-care texts and readings and discussions that then influences the classroom. 

So it is a top-down integration, but I don't want to lose sight too of the onus that faculty have on their individual classroom. And that that's true at a state school too. I had actually a really great experience at Texas A&M University, which is not a faith-based school, but I had professors who deeply cared about my spiritual formation and that was apparent in the classroom and the selections that they give us to read and the conversations that we had. And so again, I think, as Dr. Glanzer said, it's a faith-animated, not just a faith-integrated, I don't particularly like that term, but I think for Dr. Glanzer, that feels too add-on. We've had that discussion years ago. And it's just not the faith assumption that just because it's a liberal arts Christian university or Baptist university, surely the integration will be there. But really it's animating, it's the worldview that we transpose onto everything else that we're doing, from the hard sciences to the social sciences to the humanities. So yes, just that it's top-down, but it also is faculty influence in the classroom as well. 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay. So I'm going to shift a little bit to application and the challenge that this represents, and let's assume that I've got a student who goes to a Christian school or a Christian university, they've been pretty well-versed in a Christian approach to things. They graduate and now they have to function in the world. And then here's the problem that I like to pose for people that I think is thinking Christianly about the space, but is something you have to wrestle with. 

So you go out and you want to say in the public space that God says, or the Bible says, and you're talking to an agnostic or an atheist for whom neither word in that sentence means very much and you're trying to do it in relationship with your discipline. I often say we do... We have an Apologetics MA here, which I've helped design. And I often say that one of the challenges of apologetics is helping people create categories they currently may not have. And to think through how you do that from a Christian missional point of view, et cetera. So, there's an educational process going on there, it's just in the public square and in the context of pluralism. So I think that that reality is intimidating to a lot of Christians in the public space. They don't know how to deal with that. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, I agree. And I think part of the problem is Christian institutions always don't educate students to learn how to do that, to create those categories. I really like that language that you used. For example, one of the categories I like to create is to talk about human flourishing. I educate student affairs staff who will be going to all kinds of places. In fact, SMU and TCU for example, some of our graduates are there. And I ask, "Well, if you're going to have conversations about the sexual life and marriage with students and they don't believe in the scriptures," but you can talk about human flourishing and also can... I mean, if you do research, although I find most Christian students don't know this research about what helps create a human flourishing family or a flourishing marriage. 

And if you just look at the social science research, not even scripture, the Christian approach to marriage is actually the one that creates the best flourishing. Obviously, if we're just children of whether it's divorce or family dysfunction, and so I think it's helpful to people for our students to understand they need to use maybe some different categories like human flourishing or some other categories that you may talk about. 

Darrell Bock: 

In fact, I call that translating our theology into life. And let me give you another example of it's creating categories that people don't have. And it's this and is for the Christian who's grown up in a heavily Christian environment, maybe they went to a Christian school, Christian college, et cetera. And it goes like this. We have tended in the church to say that something is true because it's in the Bible. And the Bible is kind of an imprimatur that we give to whatever it is we're talking about. 

So we'll say Isaiah says, or Micah says or whatever, and because that has an authoritative ring for us, we think that's persuasive. But the way the church ought to be thinking about it in public space is the exact reverse. And that is, it isn't true because it's in the Bible. It's in the Bible because it's true. And when you reverse that, that puts an onus on us in representing what it is that the Bible is saying to people to say, this is about authentic life. Your flourishing is an example of that kind of a category it seems to me. And so teaching our students how to, what I call switch hit, is really an important part of thinking Christianly. 

Perry Glanzer: 

I really like that. Think about the virtue forgiveness, right? Maybe instead of the Bible, you refer to Don Henley. I think he comes to the bottom of the matter, and he realizes it's all about forgiveness, that what the Bible says about forgiveness is true, but there's ways outside of the Bible we can expose people and help them illuminate just the beauty of the virtue of forgiveness. 

Darrell Bock: 

Which makes the point that modeling Christian virtue is probably as important as talking about Christian virtue. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yes, absolutely. I think action is... Thinking theologically is no substitute for acting virtuously. And I think sometimes we confuse that. I will say this, however, I have known K-12 educators who say, "You know what? I'm in this great situation in the classroom where I have a model teacher mentoring me and she's modeling, but the problem is she doesn't explain why she's doing what she's doing. And so I can tell she's a fantastic teacher, she's modeling great, but I don't know the thought process of how she got there." 

Darrell Bock: 

The dots don't get connected. 

Perry Glanzer: 

And so, I think it's helpful, both the model but also to explain to those that we're mentoring the thought process of why perhaps I'm taking a Sabbath. It's not just about a rule, but it's about really demonstrating that I trust God with my productivity and I don't think I have to work seven days. It's really about my relationship with God and not about a rule, and there's a thought process behind why I'm doing it, that sort of thing. 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Yeah. I think too, as you guys are talking about human flourishing and it's tangentially related to that, but I found even discussions around vocation, sometimes you have to define what vocation is for people because we tend to think of that in more modern terms as vo-tech and kind of those more skilled positions. But the heart of vocation asks, "Well, what are you called to do?". And then that of course implies that there is a caller. And I know that we've all had these experiences with students where they feel called to electrical engineering or they feel called to a certain field. And I find that it's deeply helpful to ask them, "Well, who is calling you?". And so it's really those soul questions that have withstood the test of time of we know that you are a transcendental being and that you are related to a caller who has made you and designed you for a purpose. 

So how do we get to the heart of what that purpose is? So again, it's a human flourishing question, but it's one that we're comfortable with, I think in these postmodern, pluralistic times where we can say, "Okay, well, if you feel called to that, what is that longing and hunger inside of you? Who has put that there?". And so again, just like another method of how do we meet culture where it is, whether we're at a state school or a Christian school and the language can sometimes be nebulous or we don't have, as Dr. Bock says sometimes, a spiritual GPS on everyone. We're trying to gauge that and you only have a semester to do it. But I think finding a way to ask those deeply soul-formative questions like, "Okay, well let's talk about your vocation. What are you called to do here with your time? And why do we want to engage good in the world and why does that matter?". Rightly ordering our loves, those are questions we can still ask students to get them to confront Christ in them. 

Darrell Bock: 

So I'm hearing a really deep desire that faculty realize their responsibility in the classroom for, I don't know what other word to use, for managing the discussion of Christian presence and wrestling with that dimension of their teaching, that it's more than just the topic, but it's even thinking about what's going to make this topic make sense for the core spiritual commitments that I have as a person. Am I hearing, am I- 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah. 

Darrell Bock: 

Hearing that call right? 

Perry Glanzer: 

I think that's great. A good biblical word is stewardship. I mean, there's what I maybe would call it first Great Commission, which we're to steward the world. I mean, part of stewarding that world is stewarding the disciplines, stewarding the academic professions and disciplines that humans have created by God's grace to understand God's world. And also part of that stewardship is learning how to teach well and teach effectively to those students. 

Darrell Bock: 

It's interesting that you say that because I like to say on a regular basis in thinking about mission, that Genesis 1... That we need to talk about the gospel starting in Genesis 1 and starting with the creation mandate. And that we don't have, what I call, a classification in systematic theology that is stewardology. You know, we need the category of stewardology because the core mandate in the creation, other than to be fruitful and multiply, is to rule the earth, is to manage. It's talking about managing the earth well, collaboratively. That's the whole thing about the creation of the man and woman, in such a way that they collaborate together, and the creation gets managed well because the collaborators have been made in the image of God and been given the capability to do so. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, I think that is very well said. Yeah, and it's interesting that one of the writers recently about graduate education talked about the importance of learning to be a steward of the discipline. And this person wasn't a Christian, but I thought that's beautiful Christian language for academics when you get your PhD, part of it is you're stewarding a discipline that God's entrusted to us. 

Darrell Bock: 

And you just illustrated something else that I think is important to keep our eye out on. Christina alluded earlier to the fact I like to talk about getting a spiritual GPS on someone, and I'm talking about someone who's not a believer when I use that language. And the point that I'm trying to make is you need to see where they are deep down and what's driving them, what drives the choice in their life, et cetera. And sometimes they are having instincts that move in the direction towards the gospel, as opposed to being opposed to the direction the gospel takes people. 

And when you find that on... When the lights go off and your spiritual GPS that that's going on, that is a great place to have a conversation connection. And the example you just gave of the guy who's not a believer, but he understands the importance of stewardship is an example of the very kind of thing we're talking about and equipping students to be able to look for that, to recognize it, to not just always be hostile to what's going on around them is a very important part of that conversation it seems to me. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, there's been some national studies on evangelical students that find that they feel they're in an antagonistic environment in the university. And I do think some of that's accurate. I mean, I went to Rice and USC, I mean, there's certainly some of that. But I think sometimes they maybe have to guard up too much regarding antagonism. They aren't looking for allies in those situations and looking for that commonality. 

Darrell Bock: 

I call them bridges. You're looking for bridges that you can cross together and have a common conversation in which the person's instinct is going in one way and the Christian element of where you may be the missing piece for them. 

Christina Crenshaw: 

And I do think that is where Christian universities are uniquely positioned to be intentional about the bridges, that we don't need to be subversive, we want to be charitable and we want to be as inclusive as possible. But I think specifically with the example of Scott Drew, I think your listeners will be familiar enough with national championship and we've read some articles, Dr. Glanzer, that you've written in the Waco Tribune and other places where you've referenced him. But the way that he structures his basketball program, there is nothing subversive about it. Very overtly, his program is based on the acronym JOY, which is Jesus, others, you.And so I think that gives his players and it certainly gives university a touchstone for understanding this is your foundation. From this worldview, from this lens, from this place is where all other things will flow and all of other human flourishing will grow. So I think that that is a place where Christian universities are uniquely positioned to be overt and not subvert about their Christian mission. Again, charitable conversations are nuanced, but at a state university that is much more difficult to manage and to build those bridges than it should be at a Christian university. 

Darrell Bock: 

Fair enough. Since we're all confessing. Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Well, I was going to say one of my favorite stories about that is Jared Butler, one of those stars of that national championship team was... They're telling a story about what changed for me. He says, "Well, I just felt like I was listening so much to what's my draft pick, thinking about what's my draft status or how am I doing and this?". And he was finding his worth and value and all these things people were saying. He says, "I forgot to just find my value and worth and what God says about me." And he says, "I was able to play much better just knowing that I'm fundamentally made in God's image." And I thought, that's a wonderful testimony, in pluralistic society, of what founding your value and worth in Christianity does for you. 

Darrell Bock: 

That's a great example. And since we're all confessing our school origins here, I went to the University of Texas, so- 

Perry Glanzer: 

I'm sorry. 

Darrell Bock: 

I know what it is to be in the middle of a challenging environment. We need to land the plane, but I do want to do the other half. So we've talked about how to make connections and how to connect and how to look for bridges, but the fact is, at some points, Christianity does have a different view than what goes on in the larger world. And so learning how to do that part of your Christian engagement well, having been instructed in a Christian university about the variety of thought that exists, et cetera, and to be reflective about that, fully reflective. And to me, I'll try and set it up this way, to me there's the topic that you're dealing with and the way you think about that, your convictions on the one hand. But then there's the relational dimension of how you deliver that at the same time that you also have to be aware of. So that when you're challenging, you challenge in a way that on the one hand is clear, but on the other hand, communicates hopefully, at the same time, some element of relational care. 

How do you think about that other half kind of the Christian space, particularly environments where the secularization and the isolation or marginalization of religion can be a given? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I think one of the things I've written about is what does it mean to be an excellent enemy? And I think Christians need to think about what does it mean to be an excellent enemy? And Jesus has talked about this, right? I mean, well, for one, Psalms has also talked about it. Psalms is where the enemy is brought up the most. One, you maybe you need to yell at God about the enemy, and you do pray and frustration about the enemy. But also, two, then hopefully you get to the redemptive part with Jesus where you pray for your enemy, which is what differentiates us Christians, hopefully, from pagans and we love them. 

And I think that makes a big difference when you're going into that professional conference where you might have some conflicts, where you're having some conflict in a secular audience situation where people are asking you tough questions. I've had some pretty antagonistic questions from non-believers because they knew I was a Christian, and I think we need to learn how to be excellent enemies and Jesus has taught us that. 

Darrell Bock: 

So asking a question kind of, how can I best love this person even in the midst of this confrontation? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Right? 

Darrell Bock: 

Yeah. Christina? 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Yeah, I think it's also important to remember that Christian education has its limitations. You have these students for four years, maybe a little bit longer if they're graduate students, but it's important to partner with the Church, the big-C Church. I think even in the example you gave, Dr. Glanzer, about Jared Butler, I know that he was being discipled well at a church locally. And I think you could speak this as well, but you have research on how much the Waco churches have informed our students and how spiritually formative they've been. And so it's a partnership. I don't want us to lose sight of a Christian university has a responsibility to Christian education and discipleship and preparation, but it cannot be done in isolation. That it really needs to be in partnership with a church that's discipling students too. 

Darrell Bock: 

Man, I think that's a great- 

Perry Glanzer: 

Amen. 

Darrell Bock: 

Go ahead. Go ahead. 

Perry Glanzer: 

I was just to say amen. Yeah. Our research of Baylor students has shown that those who grow the most spiritually, horizontally in their relationship with God, vertically their relationship and reaching out, even their belonging, even their GPA, and parents might like to hear that, the factor that's correlated the most with is church attendance, 

Darrell Bock: 

Which means, this is a good place to land the plane, I think, which means that part of being an intentional institution, Christian institution would mean that that institution would be promoting and encouraging the involvement of the students in their local congregations and be pursuing that with intentionality. Is that one of the markers? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Absolutely. It must be. 

Darrell Bock: 

Yeah. So well I want to thank you, obviously we just even barely got going, but for a wonderful conversation on thinking through Christian higher education. Let me close with one other question which just popped in my mind, that's kind of the applicational-landing question. If you were giving advice to parents who are thinking about where should my child go to school and I want them to enroll in a meaningful Christian institution, what advice would you give them as to what to look for? 

Christina Crenshaw: 

I'm going to let Dr. Glanzer take this because I feel like this is more of his area of expertise, but I do just want to interject and say, number one, have them get involved in a church, in a Christian community group. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, I would say the same thing. No matter where you go, whether it's Rice or UT or A&M, I would say that's the most vital thing. In fact, I think sometimes it's knowing your child. I think it's probably less the university, because I know there's certain kind of personalities I probably wouldn't encourage to go to a Christian university. They are maybe strong enough and they are committed enough that they need the sharpening that they might experience at a UT, A&M or Rice. 

That being said, there may be other students who I would really strongly encourage at a Christian university. So I think your student experience... Also too, there are these new things called Christian study centers at a number of elite universities like Cornell, University of Virginia and University of North Carolina, in which you can go to a highly-ranked secular university but still receive, have some wonderful Christian community that challenges you intellectually. And I would strongly encourage parents to look into those if their child is interested in those institutions. 

Darrell Bock: 

That's an interesting observation because one thing that I would regularly say to students is, particularly if you're on a secular campus, but this would also be true obviously on a Christian campus, is find a student group that's going to nurture your faith. And I'm thinking not just of a church, don't just think about what you attend on Sunday, but an actual group or community made up of people of the same age who are committed to... And there are myriads of those groups on all the campuses. That's important. I'm not going to let this go though. I want to flip the question which, because we tended to talk about being in a non-Christian environment. What should parents look for in a Christian school, I guess, in a Christian higher education school you think? 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yeah, I would say the rhetoric is helpful. I mean, like Christina talked about the rhetoric, looking at that, is Christianity in the mission? How many Christian courses do they require? Related to your point, do they have robust Christian student groups on campus? Sometimes maybe they don't think they need those robust Christian student groups, and I think they do. That's one thing I appreciate about Baylor is we have them here. So I think looking for that. Also, see what kind of residence life is going to be. I mean, do they take seriously residence life? To be honest, in our study, qualitative exit interviews of Baylor students, their major moral formation does not happen in the classroom. Now their professors do form them morally in terms of their professional views about Christianity and their profession. But their major moral formation happens in the co-curricular, especially among student groups. And so that's where you really want to look for some robust possibilities for engagement. 

Darrell Bock: 

Yeah, that's a great observation. We haven't even touched student life, which would be another dimension of this entire conversation, but that's another podcast. So I want to thank you, Perry and Christina, for helping us with this Christian education discussion, higher education discussion. I think I've learned some stuff just listening to y'all, so I really appreciate the time and energy that you've given to us. Thank you. 

Christina Crenshaw: 

Thank you. 

Perry Glanzer: 

Yes, thank you. 

Darrell Bock: 

And if you have enjoyed The Table, please look us up at voice.dts.edu. Feel free to tell people about the podcast. We hope you enjoyed this look at Christian Higher Education on The Table and we hope you'll join us again soon. 

Christina Crenshaw
Dr. Christina Crenshaw is a professor, researcher, writer, and human trafficking fighter. She teaches faith and writing, vocational leadership, and human trafficking courses as a Lecturer at Baylor University. She has also co-published and presented on human trafficking curriculum research in peer reviewed journals and at academic conferences. Dr. Crenshaw recently completed a Cultural Engagement and Leadership Fellow with Dallas Theological Seminary’s Hendricks Center. For the last five years, Dr. Crenshaw has worked with several anti-trafficking organizations such as The A21 Campaign, UnBound Now, The Texas Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force, The Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition, and Operation Mobilization’s Freedom Climb. Prior to moving to Waco, TX, she lived in Southern California and held an Assistant Professor position in English and Education at California Baptist University. Dr. Crenshaw dedicated the first four years of her career to teaching as a high school English teacher. Those early experiences birthed a soft spot in her heart for vulnerable youth.
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary's Table Podcasts. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, writes for the Christianity Today's Places and Space series, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College, Chosen People Ministries, the Institute for Global Engagement, and Christians in Public Service (CIPS). His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Married for over 40 years to Sally, he is a proud father of two daughters and a son and is also a grandfather.
Perry Glanzer
Perry L. Glanzer is a Professor at Baylor University and Editor-in-Chief of Christian Scholar’s Review. 
Contributors
Christina Crenshaw
Darrell L. Bock
Perry Glanzer
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November 15, 2022
Christian education, education, faith, faith and work, work, workplace
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