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Christian Philosophers in the 'Secular Academy'

The past few decades have seen an increase of interest by Christians in philosophy.  One manifestation of this has been an increase of Christians teaching philosophy in a secular setting.  The recent EPS “Christ-Shaped Philosophy Project" evidences this renewed engagement and shows that there is dispute about what it even means to ‘do philosophy’ as a Christian.  In part this is because there is a difference of perspective about the meaning of philosophy. For example, in what way is philosophy different than testimony (e.g., revealed religion), tradition, science, common sense, and intuition?  Moreover, must a Christian who teaches and studies philosophy commit herself/himself to one of the current philosophical methodologies such as analytic or continental philosophy?

PROJECT PURPOSE: We seek to understand teaching, learning, and communicating as a ‘Christian Philosopher’ in a non-religious (sometimes anti-religious) educational context (e.g., High School, College, and University). This project asks questions related to how Christians understand philosophy, and how this affects teaching philosophy as a Christian in a secular academic setting (see suggestions below). This involves philosophy as the study of general revelation, combined with the Christian claims of the need for redemption and redemptive revelation.  As such it raises important questions about the basis for common ground between humans as thinkers, and the Christian claim that humans do not seek, do not understand, and do not do what is right. 

LENGTH: 1500-2000 total words
DEADLINE: TBD with editor/coordinator (see below).

Each month, we plan to feature at least one new contribution in this space
.

SUBMISSION PROCESS: If you are interested in any of the below suggested areas of contribution (or you wish to propose some other topic), please contact our project coordinator and editor Owen Anderson (info below). Owen is seeking to coordinate all potential contributors and their topics for this endeavor. When you pitch your possible contribution, please provide the following:

  • Your name, institution and contact info.
  • Title and description of your proposal.
  • Specific reasons for how your contribution will help advance the purpose of this project.

Contributions

12 SUGGESTED AREAS TO PURSUE

  1. Is ‘Christian philosophy’ distinct from ‘philosophy,’ and if so, how does that shape the practice of teaching it in non-religious contexts?
  2. How does being a Christian influence teaching philosophy at a secular institution?
  3. What should a ‘Christian philosopher’ seek to accomplish with the teaching-learning process in a non-religious context? Teach for the sake of understanding an area of knowledge? Bear witness to the ultimate truth in the triune God? Only ‘play according to the rules’ of that discipline and institution? Something else? What might prudence and wisdom look like with this endeavor?
  4. How might different epistemologies (e.g., Reformed Epistemology) influence what a ‘Christian philosopher’ views as desiderata for teaching-learning outcomes in a non-religious context?
  5. What basis is there for ‘common ground’ between Christian philosophy and secular institutions (or students, or colleagues)?
  6. What challenges to a Christian understanding of the world arise from students or colleagues? How should these challenges be addressed?
  7. How might debates about advocacy/neutrality models of the classroom shape the ‘doing’ of philosophy by Christians?
  8. What do secular institutions ask Christian philosophers to ‘do’ with their faith (e.g., utilize it, isolate it, make it merely private, etc) and how does that shape the teaching-learning process?
  9. Given the challenges of philosophical and religious pluralism, how should one teach Ethics, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, etc. as a Christian?
  10. What are some ‘best practices’ for teaching hot-button issues like: the nature of truth, the existence of the soul, different accounts of human nature, issues of sexuality and sexual ethics, ‘beginning of life’ and ‘end of life’ ethical issues, war, nuclear disarmament, etc  
  11. Are there specific teaching or communication lessons a Christian philosophers learns at a secular institution that are absent at a religious institution?
  12. Is teaching Christian philosophy at a secular institution different from teaching other subjects at that institution (does philosophy have a unique role than perhaps math, grammar, geography, etc., do not)?
Project Coordinator & Editor
Owen Anderson
William E Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life
James Madison Program
Princeton University

Project Developer & Overseer
Joseph E. Gorra, Consulting Editor, Philosophia Christi.

Copy Editor Assistant
Dave Strobolakos, Talbot School of Theology.

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