Where Wisdom May Be Found
The Eternal Purpose of Christian Higher Education
Edward P. Meadors (editor)
Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications
333+ xliv pp, pbk
As the title suggest the main underlying theme of this book is Wisdom. As Meadors explains in his introduction:
The thesis of this volume is simple: the purpose of education is to cultivate eternal wisdom.
Wisdom is the goal of education.
In the remainder of the book, the other 26 contributors explicate this theme in and through their different subjects. The subjects include not only traditional academic subjects such as biblical exegesis, theology, philosophy, politics, literature, history, mathematics, engineering, geology but also sustainability, health, theatre, athletics and kinesiology.
The strength of the book is the underlying theme of wisdom which provides a coherence, the range of subjects covered and their brevity. The weakness is the brevity of the chapters. I was left wanting more after reading each chapter. There was a brief bibliography after each of the chapters, but a briefly annotated list of books/ articles would have added benefit.
The chapter by Vanhoozer on theology for me was slightly problematic. He seems to be elevating theology to more than an academic discipline. For Vanhoozer theology ‘is the study of God’ (43) and ‘the index of each discipline’s incompleteness’ (47). Vanhoozer, it seems, laments the loss of theology as the queen of the sciences.
Spiegel provides a fascinating discussion of Socratic philosophy but does not deal with the role of philosophy in the academy or its relationship with other academic disciplines sadly.
Many of the chapters begin with brief biographical reflections on how the authors came to understand their calling to the different spheres. These provide helpful insights.
For me, the chapters by Sikkema and Schuurman in physics and engineering, respectively, were the two stand-out chapters. This may be because of the subjects and that they were writing out of a Dooyeweerdian perspective.
If nothing else this book reveals the concern of the creator God for all areas and aspects of his creation. It provides an excellent starting point for someone looking for a Christian approach to a variety of disciplines.