Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Two Tasks of a Christian Scholar

On September 13, 1980, the great Lebanese ambassador and Christian statesman Charles Malik (1906-19870) joined Billy Graham and ten thousands others for the dedication of the new Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
With passion and prophectic vision, Malik implored Evangelical Christians in American to engage in two great tasks:
"task of saving the soul, and that of saving the mind."
"The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed, it may turn out that you have actually lost the world."
William Lane Craig, Paul M. Gould, (eds)(2007), The Two Task for the Christian Scholar : Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books


  1. I wonder if you can win one without winning the other?

  2. That is a good question Bob. And what is or are the task/tasks of a Christian scholar?

  3. Only two tasks??

    These are high voltage words which are good to re-establish priorities but they suggest that the scholar is living, writing and teaching in a vacuum.

    At conferences that I have attended for scholars and teachers, I have found that one of the most time-consuming things that teachers say they do is administration and seminary promotion.

    At conferences for Seminary Presidents and Principals I have found that these people are focused on many things, especially Vision, Leadership, Building the Learning Community and fund-raising.

    There are usually several tasks that scholars have to apply themselves to, unless they are wealthy, freelancing scholars. But it is good that your post puts into focus two of the important priorities (in addition to blog writing!!)

    Thanks Alex.

  4. "And what is or are the task/tasks of a Christian scholar?"

    Guess it depends on your definition of Christian scholar. One definition says a scholar is a person of great knowledge and learning. Combining that definition with "Christian" it seems that a Christian scholar could be someone who has great knowledge of the scriptures and has much life learning.

    My thinking is that to whom much is given much is required. Maybe the tasks of such people are to coach, mentor and raise up young believers.

    Bet you are glad that you asked. What do you think? How would you answer your question?

  5. Bob,

    Thanks for your comments. Who is a Christian scholar? Is he or she(1) a scholar in secular studies who is a Christian, (2)a Christian who involved with theological studies, (3) someone who is involved with Christian theological studies, and (4)a theologian teaching in a seminary?

    You are also right is asking the difference between saving souls and saving minds. Biblical teaching points that the soul is closer to the mind or equivalent. Malik however equate the soul with the heart. Thus it is winning hearts and minds. He is talking about Christian scholarship in a secular academia. He is calling for a "integrated" Christian scholar in a secular academia.

  6. hi Geoff,

    Thanks for your input. This post is meant to be provocative. Thank you for highlighting the bane of scholars and teachers- administration and find raising. I guess it is the same if it is for theological or 'secular' subjects. Getting the bureaucracy moving and oiling it with money is also the tasks of scholars and teachers. What little time left will be used for their other tasks of teaching and study.

    Me wonders if some of these are not self-created. And whether the idolatry of marketing has taken over the seminary and higher institutions of learning?