A Thoughtful Soul: Part of Being Whole (Part III)

by John Mark Reynolds on October 9, 2013

I think, therefore I am.

So runs the one of the few philosophical quotations almost everyone knows. It does not follow that a person who thinks badly has less “being” than a person who thinks well, but experience shows that most beings that think badly end badly.

“If we think, therefore we are,” and we think,  then surely we should think well! Humans have reason, higher passions, and desires and all of these matter. No “part” of the soul can be safely ignored, suppressed, or be left untrained. Instead, each must be taught to function properly. Christians know this truth, because we know that however broken humans may be each part of a person still retains a shattered remnant of the Image of God.

Our ability to reason may be fallen, but there is a common grace (as even John Calvin concedes) that allows any human being to reason better than an animal and contribute to human knowledge. We are not what we were, but we can be better than we are. [click to continue…]

A Spirited Soul: Part of Being Whole (Part II)

by John Mark Reynolds on October 8, 2013

This weekend HBU won its first football game: ever.

Some schools sell t-shirts that say: “Our School Undefeated in Football since Date of Founding” and HBU once could sell such shirts, but can no longer. We were smacked down hard by the defending champs of our conference in our first game, but came back to defeat a local Baptist rival in our second.

HBU can say it has won as many games as it has lost, but we are not undefeated. When I was a kid, ABC had a show called Wide World of Sports that began with clips of great sport’s victories and disasters. HBU football was safe from making either category.

Of course, the school that does not enter the arena will never taste “the agony of defeat,” but it will never get “the thrill of victory.” And there is something a bit pathetic about such a place. After all, nobody picked as their Biblical hero the servant who hid their talent in a napkin. [click to continue…]

An Erotic Soul: Part of Being Whole (Part I)

by John Mark Reynolds on October 7, 2013

Nobody is a Vulcan, not even Vulcans, if Star Trek canon is to be believed: intelligent beings in bodies have passions and suppressing them in unhealthy.

Sadly, so is acting on them thoughtlessly.

Sometimes we forget we have passions, sometimes we are controlled by them: a trick to a good life is accept the passions and to control them.

Consumer culture celebrates our desires, while a gnostic paganism demonizes them: neither reaction is Christian. How do we know? The only way a person can know God is by God’s revelation of Himself to us through Jesus. God became man, so we could have any hope of knowing God. All that we can know of God that is not mere negation (God cannot lie) or abstraction (God is omnipotent) comes from Jesus: God becoming human. [click to continue…]

Oh Houston!

by John Mark Reynolds on August 15, 2013

Houston

If I tell people not from Houston, I moved to Houston from Los Angeles, people make pitying noises.

I do not understand these noises.

I love LA, loved living there, and still have dear friends who live in the Great Nowhere, but Houston does not need your pity. I have discovered Houstonians don’t have time for pity or for boasting, because they are too busy inventing the future.

Why am I falling in love with Houston?

First, [click to continue…]

Ten Things Going Forward

by John Mark Reynolds on May 21, 2013

By the end of June, I will have been at Houston Baptist University for one year.

What have I learned?

First, I know now how blessed I am to be here. This is the most exciting academic moment in my experience in higher education.

HBU did not need me, but I get to be at HBU.

Second, President Sloan is a leader. He listens, he delegates, he hears from our Board, but he leads. Sloan is not afraid of risk: we are a small school starting both NCAA football and one of the largest apologetics programs in the nation.  

Third, HBU is diverse where it should be and united where it should be. Houston is a diverse city and HBU fully reflects that diversity. We are what most Christian colleges aspire to be, but we have achieved this goal while strengthening our commitment to core values.

Fourth, [click to continue…]

We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

by John Mark Reynolds on May 13, 2013

The Wall Street Journal, noting the retirement of Donald Kagan, states the obvious: higher education is broken. Its brokenness begins with the faculty.

College is expensive, dominated by faculty unions, and hostile to moral education. Higher education does research well and is vital to our continued economic growth, but it no longer forms leaders fit for Republican values.

What does it profit our republic if we gain scientific power, but lose any ability to use it morally?

Kagan is right that law and liberty must remain in tension for a republic to thrive. If anything, he understates the degree to which liberty has degenerated to the libertine. But Kagan is wrong that the fight is ended. Parents and students have a choice in higher education: schools with a strong Western core, a commitment to science and research, and traditional moral values still exist.

I work at one of those schools.

Legacy colleges and universities will continue to dominate for a time based on inherited prestige and wealth, but a change is coming.

It is coming because while wealthy, historically excellent schools will continue to dominate in scientific areas, they have abdicated moral leadership. All the scientists in creation cannot get an “ought” from the “is” they study, but a republic requires a basic consensus on what “ought to be.”

Yale and other legacy schools are part of the problem, but this brave Yale professor has not found the cure.

A soft secularism did not provide the thunder from New England pulpits for liberty or send the boys in blue marching to die to “make men free” as Jesus died to “make men holy.” Soft secularism cannot resist the twin evils of theocracy or the bloodthirsty secularism that dominated the twentieth century.

Reason is a tool, not a blueprint for building a republic. Our Founders used the tool of reason and provided a blueprint based on their Western values: a fusion of Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian ideas.

This middle ground was hard to find and was the work of centuries of Western civilization. Christian apologist and philosopher John Locke understood the need for a moral consensus built on natural law and revealed religion. If a person accepted the laws of Nature and Nature’s God, then the commonwealth would tolerate his or her private beliefs.

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At Houston Baptist University, along with other smaller, but growing, schools, the job is still being done. Faculty members are committed to a common Western core serving one of the most diverse, urban groups of students in the nation.  HBU’s administration is ready to defend republican values against extremism on the right and left. We embrace the need for research, but not at the expense of moral education. Our education is classical, not trendy, and we love liberty in markets constrained by moral values.

We know how to set the entrepreneur free while retaining the moral clarity needed to condemn the Scrooge.

More people are discovering this option and opting out of government schools or private schools dominated by government-think.

Christianity can provide that foundation for many citizens, and my university is here to help renew John Locke’s vision.  There is still time for a revival of the old faith, before extremists, either secular or religious, destroy our peace.

I see that revival every day in Houston Baptist University’s students and faculty.

Without it, the treason of the professors may indeed doom the Republic.