During Galileo’s trial, at which he stood accused of heresy for teaching a heliocentric planetary system, it was stated that “the Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” Whatever we might think of this statement, most of us live as if the Bible does not directly address the question how the “heavens” of our own major go, and I think properly so. For example, we don’t look to Scripture to tell us whether to apply heat or ice to a sports injury, outline the direct and indirect causes of the Crimean War, explain Freud’s death drive and its therapeutic implications, map a seven-year-old’s brain to help us better teach second grade math, or offer the basics of photosynthesis. In short, the Bible apparently does not intend to instruct on these things, and a myriad of other topics we encounter in class.
If Scripture is not a suitable textbook for the contents of our class (unless we are in a biblical studies or theology course), where does that leave the majority of us? Faith integration is an expectation in every course at APU, and Scripture is the primary authority in matters of faith. So how do we draw Scripture into the classroom?
A full examination of this question goes well beyond the average length of a blog entry, but let me offer one quick idea in the brief space I have. If the statement, “the Bible teaches us how to go to heaven” means that Scripture proposes to address our ultimate concerns (e.g., purpose, separation from God, redemption), I believe we are on the right track. Thus, questions that can help us recognize how faith fits into our classes might be:
• “How does what I learn from this class fit into God’s creational purposes for the world?”
• “In what ways does this class assume our separation from God and others?”
• “How is salvation (by whatever name it goes) envisioned by those within this discipline?”
What this tells me is that, despite common stereotypes that Christian higher education is somehow constricted, APU actually offers a bigger education. Like secular institutions, we teach proper methods of treating hamstring pulls, Freudian psychoanalytic theory, and how the heavens go. However, our commitment to faith also requires that we place these and all other academic issues within the context of Scripture’s Story of creation, fall, and redemption. Anything less falls short of our mandate for Christian higher education.