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An Essay on Academic Disciplines, Faithfulness, and the Christian Scholar
by Paul Gould
In this essay, it will be argued that an academic discipline is best understood as a social practice composed of guiding principles, a guiding methodology, a data set and a collective narrative (with characters, acts and various sub-stories throughout its history).
Mission takes place at the point of intersection between the dominant western stories (scientific naturalism and postmodernism) and Christianity. Within the academic discipline, these intersections are at each level: the Christian professor will utilize her own set of guiding principles and methodologies (which might or might not agree with those of the dominant story within the discipline); she will approach the data set of the discipline from her own unique point of cognitive access, which may lead her to ask a different set of questions than those who embrace the dominant story of the discipline would ask; and she will look to her own set of Christian mentors and guides within the discipline (historical and contemporary) for leadership.
As a missional professor who always has the progress of the gospel in view, she will seek "missional connections” within her academic discipline so that Christianity will be viewed as plausible and gain a hearing in the secular university and in culture.
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