In the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education (the trade journal for college professors and administrators), Dr. Peter Conn, professor of English and Education at the University of Pennsylvania, recently penned a provocative essay entitled “The Great Accreditation Farce” (subscription may be required). Conn argued that religious colleges “undermine the most fundamental purposes of higher education.”
How? By “erecting religious tests for truth” (e.g., requiring faculty to sign statements of faith), “skeptical and unfettered inquiry” cannot flourish. Therefore, Christian colleges that require faculty to sign faith statements should not be able to receive accreditation as institutions of higher learning. (To lose accreditation would be to lose access to all federal funds–grants, work-study, loans, tax credits and deductions. A potentially fatal blow.)
Dr. Stanton L. Jones, Provost of Wheaton College, has penned a response. Jones explains that all knowledge starts somewhere in faith. An excerpt:
Are we guilty then of deliberately abandoning “the primacy of reason” to “replace reason with theology,” as Conn claims? Not at all. Reason is not antithetical to faith. In the words of Saint Anselm, the intellectual task is that of “faith seeking understanding.” Faith is not understanding, but motivates and empowers the pursuit of understanding. In that pursuit, it is vital to engage the full force of views and findings that challenge us, as do our Wheaton College scientists who thoroughly engage contemporary evolutionary science, holding and managing the tension and challenges this poses to aspects of religious belief.
Read the whole thing.
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