A Whole Soul: The Goal of Education (Part IV)

by John Mark Reynolds on October 10, 2013

What should I want for those I love?

I want them to be happy, of course, but not at the cost of their soul. If hurting other people makes them happy, then I would prefer those I love be less happy, but better human beings. That is obvious, plain enough that I sometimes forget it needs to be said. I wish for health, prosperity, and good things, but experience shows that this is not enough.

A healthy man can be miserable and a sick man happy. I would rather be a depressed Socrates than a happy pig, though for me I am more likely to become a depressed pig. Put simply: I would wish for those I love to have minds that are awake, virtue in their spirit, hearts that are tender, and desires that can be fulfilled in a good life. I would wish them the physical health to enjoy these good things.

Erotic desire, the higher passions, and the intellect come together in a body to make a human being. When we incarnate the virtues, give goodness skin, then we may not always be happy, but we will better for those around us.

A goal of education should be to harmonize all those elements: [click to continue…]

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


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…]