In Fall 2012, I start work as a full professor at Houston Baptist University… No one who has been following my work will be surprised to learn that I am coming on board in order to help develop a MA in Apologetics, a sister MA to the already-created MA in Philosophy (which has an Apologetics Certificate included — and is accepting applicants right now for the Fall 2012 semester!)
My colleagues include John Mark Reynolds, Nancy Pearcey, Mary Jo Sharp, Michael Licona, Lou Markos… and many more outstanding scholars. It is quite the team!
Why Houston Baptist University? Many reasons, but they all rest on the solid foundation of HBU’s vision and commitment to become a beacon of excellence in Christian education.
The Ten Pillars are the ten principles that guide HBU’s work. In Part 1 I discussed the first three pillars. Now let me pick up with Pillar 4:
4. Establish a residential society of learning.
A strong residential focus for education is not just good pedagogy, it’s good theology.
Part of the challenge of Christian education is to push back against the naturalistic, secular idea that our bodies don’t matter – that we can educate minds without forming the whole person, body and soul. We are made in the image of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we are made for community and relationship. Ours is an incarnational faith, because the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
The residential society is most critical for undergraduates, for whom residential life in a Christian community could, literally, be where they set their feet on the path of life. I have been teaching a diverse body of undergraduates at a commuter school for the past seven year. Our young people crave connection and meaning. A residential society of learning will help them in their studies, their relationships, and their walk with Christ.
A residential society of learning is not just for undergraduates, but for graduate students and faculty as well! It is how the faculty relate with each other and with students. It is how graduate students relate to each other and to faculty. It is a commitment to a particular place as our “home ground” for learning, and to the process of mentoring and discipleship.
5. Increase our cultural impact through our faculty.
Intellectuals from the secular universities have had a powerful shaping influence on our culture – and not for the good. To change this trend, to recover reason and reshape the imagination of the West for Christ, we need to do more than pastoral triage when our young people have their faith shaken in college, or intellectual rear-guard action to defend against wrong ideas that have taken root in scholarship. We must go out into the intellectual, academic world as Christians doing great work in whatever field we are in.
Houston Baptist University has made a commitment to give its faculty the time and encouragement to do research, write, publish, and speak in their fields. I am tremendously excited by this important commitment to engaging with culture in order to transform it. In addition to my teaching, mentoring, and administrative work, I will be actively writing and speaking, especially in my field of specialty, imaginative and literary apologetics, and proudly listing my Houston Baptist University affiliation!
You will see me in November when I speak on Literature and Apologetics at the 2012 Evangelical Philosophical Society Apologetics Conference. And I will be speaking at a conference sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Society of Madison, Wisconsin and the Bradshaw-Knight Foundation: The Ten Books That Most Influenced C.S. Lewis. But wait! Not just me, but also Louis Markos, also of HBU! Here are our topics:
- The Aeneid by Virgil presented by Dr. Louis Markos from Houston Baptist University.
- Descent Into Hell by Charles Williams presented by Dr. Holly Ordway, Houston Baptist University.
6. Renew our campus, renew our community.
One of the things that I immediately loved about Houston Baptist University when I set foot on campus for the first time is the feel of “place.” The campus is in the city, as part of the community, yet it also has its own distinct identity as a physical location, with enclosing walls, a beautiful (and beautifully symbolic) gate of entry, lovely greenspace with magnolia trees, and buildings that reflect a commitment to architectural grace and beauty. This is a university that knows that it belongs exactly where it is, and that has its roots deep in Texas soil and the Houston community so that it can produce students and scholars of distinction for the entire nation. New buildings are going up, and new connections are being made with the local high schools and the local community. I am excited to see what great things will happen in the days to come…