Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society Through Christian Higher Education

This book was written by David S. Dockery, a minister, theologian, and educator. He is the president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. We have mentioned a number of books Dockery either wrote, edited, or coauthored; books such as Foundations for Biblical Interpretation, The Challenge of Postmodernism, and Christian Scripture: An Evangelical Perspective.

I previously mentioned something of the content of Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society Through Higher Education. Below are comments others have made regarding this book that underscore its importance at this time.

“This is in every way a landmark book.” J.I. Packer

“David Dockery is a rare combination of serious scholar, experienced academic leader, and Christian intellectual. This is an important and timely book that will challenge Christians to recover an authentically Christian vision of education, intellect, and learning.” Al Mohler

“The extensive bibliography on integrating faith and scholarship is itself worth the price of the book.” Cary Zylstra

“There’s no greater need for the church than to equip the coming generation of Christians to engage the postmodern culture… Dockery’s new book challenges the academy to make biblical worldview the foundation for not only renewing minds but also developing character.” Charles Colson

The book is solidly biblical and theologically challenging. Its primary thrust is to challenge, equip, and prepare this generation not to isolate itself from the “secular” postmodern world; not to assimilate those teachings into the Christian agenda, but to engage this world with a distinctively Christian worldview. Religion is not a peripheral matter. It is at the heart not only of spirituality but of the university as well.

Dockery contends, contrary to much thinking, religion has a major role to perform in the area of learning. We who are Reformed Calvinistic Christians understand that because man is a religious being, each bearing God’s image and likeness, religion describes who we are.

The title of the book aptly describes its content because it focuses on “the distinctive role of Christian higher education, both in the kingdom of God and in the world of the academy.” Not only will you be challenged, inspired, and blessed by reading Dockery’s thoughts on this topic, you will have a great bibliography at your finger tips on the related topics. Each chapter is rich with resources for further study.

I particularly appreciated Dockery’s world and lifeview. The thought reflected throughout the book sounds quite familiar to one who focuses on the kingdom of God in a Kuyperian way. He says, “There is no sphere of humanity to which Jesus Christ is irrelevant; and certainly that includes the academic world.” Another thing that I appreciate from this fellow kingdom disciple is that he understands the dangers of dualism, which dichotomizes everything under the sun and thus fails to see the unity of truth in all of life. He also understands that learning to think Christianly impacts every area of life, including the way we learn and teach.

Dockery demonstrates his understanding of philosophy, theology, and culture in general. He says, “higher education in America has shifted from a foundational advantage point, where the knowledge of God provides the context for all forms of human knowledge, to one that is hostile to Christianity.” Dockery makes it clear in good biblical fashion that the Christian mind always seeks to apply its know ledge and learning to doing what God commands and calls us to do.

Space does not permit explanation, but the chapter “Establishing a Grace-Filled Academic Community” is important reading. It will challenge you and bless you as well. And, is he ever right when he says, “Christians are often too focused on the wrong intramural squabbles to have any impact in the society or culture in which we live.” This is followed up by, “It seems to me that the ultimate danger to the Christian message for the time in which we live lies not in the nuances of our differences but in the rising tides of liberalism, paganism, secularism, and postmodernism that threaten to swamp the Christian message in cultural accommodation.”

Finally the chapter ” Developing a Theology for Christian Higher Education ” is a must read by those in the church and kingdom. This of course requires as one has said, faithfulness to Scripture and an understanding of the unfaithfulness of the Christian community to Scripture. We need to live in the world with a lifestyle that glorifies God, says Dockery.

Need more be said about this book?

Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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