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The Future of Baptist Higher Education

Donald Schmeltekopf and Dianna M. Vitanza, editors

Publication Year: 2006

The Future of Baptist Higher Education investigates four key issues that inform Baptist efforts at higher education: the denominational conflict that has afflicted Baptists since the 1980s, the secularization of higher education in America, the dominance of the market-driven tendencies in American higher education today, and the meaning of Christian higher education, but more specifically, the meaning of Baptist higher education. This volume clearly illustrates that the meaning of Baptist and Christian higher education, as with the Christian life itself, is far more complex than any one imperial interpretation.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

In April 2003, the Council of Deans of Baylor University sponsored a colloquy on the subject “The Baptist and Christian Character of Baylor,” the papers for which were made into a book by the same title. Both the colloquy and the book received favorable reviews, not only at Baylor but widely across the Christian higher education community. The colloquy prompted another...


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pp. 1

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Chapter One: Baptist Identity and Christian Higher Education

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pp. 3-21

The first Baptist institution of higher education established in America was Rhode Island College, founded in 1764. Rhode Island was a logical place to locate the institution, for in the mid-eighteenth century this American colony had more Baptists than any other, largely because the tradition of religious liberty advanced by Roger Williams was attractive to Baptists and because...

Part One: Four Models for Baptist Higher Education

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pp. 23

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Chapter Two: Integrating Faith and Learning in an Ecumenical Context

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pp. 25-51

The ultimate task of this essay is to make a proposal concerning the normative intellectual vision and theological identity of Baptist universities.1 My particular assignment has been to focus on the conversation about Christian higher education that has been occurring outside the Baptist world. Even with this limitation, my task remains daunting. But it is what I have been asked to do,...

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Chapter Three: Building on a Shared Identity within a Shared History

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pp. 53-64

It is not easy to talk about “Th e Purpose of Baptist Higher Education” in these troubled times. When I mentioned my assigned topic to a faculty colleague, he responded, “Why do we even need a distinctive Baptist approach? Shouldn’t the education we off er simply be excellent rather than parochial?” With a mindless anti-intellectualism running high within our denominational...

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Chapter Four: Fostering Dissent in the Postmodern Academy

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pp. 65-82

...Whitsitt knew whereof he spoke. By 1899 he had resigned his position under pressure from those Landmark leaders whose theology of Baptist succession he challenged with his historical investigations. Today, few would dispute Whitsitt’s findings that Baptists did not begin to practice immersion until 1641, some thirty years after their beginnings in Amsterdam. Yet...

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Chapter Five: Blending Baptist with Orthodox in the Christian University

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pp. 83-97

...With these words, William E. Hull, then provost of Samford University, concluded the Hester Lectures on Southern Baptist Higher Education in 1996. In this chapter, given originally as one of the Hester Lectures in 2004, I attempt to advance the conversation and the challenge issued to us by Hull a decade ago. The focus of this essay is not a discussion about a general philosophy of...

Part Two: Faculty and Students and Baptist Higher Education

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pp. 99

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Chapter Six: Who Will Our Students Be in a Postmodern, Postdenominational, and Materialistic Age?

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pp. 101-112

Th e study of large groups of students is intriguing, complicated, exciting, and extremely beneficial. Many academicians, particularly those in the disciplines of sociology and psychology, do a good job of keeping up with the latest developments and current thinking about young people, and through their research they often make significant contributions to our understanding...

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Chapter Seven: Religious Identity, Academic Reputation, and Attracting the Best Faculty and Students

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pp. 113-126

About five years ago The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a conference of scholars and senior administrators at Harvard discussing “The Future of Religious Colleges.”1 The irony of the meeting’s being at Harvard is readily apparent. Having been founded by Puritan Christians in 1636 and soon given the motto Christo et Ecclesiae, Harvard experienced a gradual transformation...

Part Three: Baptist Higher Education and Its Constituencies

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pp. 127

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Chapter Eight: Is Higher Education a Justifiable Mission of Baptist Churches and Baptist Bodies?

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pp. 129-143

The scene from the Golan Heights in Israel is one of the most breathtaking in all God’s world. Standing 1,150 feet above sea level, the massive rock outcropping is the largest I’ve ever seen, gray with streaks of metallic brown, flat and imposing. And towering above it is a gigantic cliff , dwarfing the Huleh Valley below in every direction. High up on that cliff our tour group could...

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Chapter Nine: Can Baptist Institutions of Higher Education Meet the Needs of Increasingly Diverse Constituencies?

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pp. 145-158

I am a third-generation native Texan of Mexican descent and a third-generation Baptist Christian with connections to Hispanic Baptist congregations related to the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, a fellowship of twelve hundred Hispanic congregations affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT).1 My path to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ...

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Chapter Ten: Can Baptist Institutions of Higher Education Meet the Needs of Youth in a Post-9/11 World?

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pp. 159-170

As general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, I am essentially a missionary and evangelist, roaming the world and speaking encouraging words to our Baptist brothers and sisters, most of whom are suffering from inadequate education, lack of resources, and lack of economic and political freedom. So to attempt to address issues concerning the future of Baptist higher education...

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Chapter Eleven, Response 1: To Whom Are Baptist Colleges and Universities Accountable?

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pp. 171-176

Th e challenges facing Baptist higher education at the beginning of the twenty-first century are daunting. In fact, in my darkest moments, I find myself with little hope for the future vitality or relevance of many Baptist colleges and universities. The future of Baptist schools seems cloudy and problematic because of the convergence of two forces. First, there is the continued threat from fundamentalism...

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Chapter Eleven, Response 2: To Whom Are Baptist Colleges and Universities Accountable?

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pp. 177-185

Many people share the uneasy sense that Baptist higher education, especially in the South, has rarely been more vulnerable than it is today. Many Baptist institutions have either broken the historic ties with their denomination or they are literally selling their academic souls for far less than a “full mess of pottage.” Accountability to our church constituency has increasingly been...

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Chapter Twelve: The University, the Church, and the Culture

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pp. 187-200

Th e New Testament concept of being “in this world, but not of this world”1 summarizes the dilemma of each Christian and of each Baptist institution. The church (i.e., all Christian believers), and especially evangelicals in America, have alternately “struggled with an inherent tension between . . . keeping that which they defined as sacred uncontaminated by the profane world,” and...

Part Four: Conclusion

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pp. 201

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Chapter Thirteen: The Future of Baptist Higher Education:Secular or Religious?

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pp. 203-217

Th e idealist philosopher Michael Oakeshott has provided me with a framework for understanding how knowledge is usually grasped through different academic disciplines. What he has to say suggests a problem for me as a historian who usually focuses on the past but who wishes in this case to talk about the future. Oakeshott speaks of experience as a “whole,” yet because we cannot...

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Chapter Fourteen: Can the Secular Be Sanctified?

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pp. 219-231

Southern Baptists were the first Free Church movement to create a civilization: it’s called the South.1 To be sure, Baptists flourished in other geographical regions, but their majority presence in the South earned them the status of a de facto established church.2 This is indeed ironic for a people whose heritage and story is one of dissent and liberty, but history often writes the...


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pp. 233-262


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pp. 263-264

E-ISBN-13: 9781602581142
E-ISBN-10: 1602581142
Print-ISBN-13: 9781932792270
Print-ISBN-10: 1932792279

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2006

Edition: 1st