The academic work of a Christian university embodies a role that is vital and necessary for our culture today. It is work that takes place at the intersection of learning and faith. To be sure, great learning is not required to be a person of faith. The simplest individual who has faith in Jesus Christ can lead a life of wisdom and productivity. And a person of great learning who is devoid of faith and full of cynicism can lead a life of brokenness or even destruction.
But pitting faith against learning creates a misleading alternative that need not prevail anywhere, and certainly not in a Christian university. Faith and learning are not contradictory. Everyone has some sort of faith, but the crucial question is, what is the object of our faith? Faith in money, faith in human brilliance and achievement, trusting technology to solve life’s problems—these are all ways that ultimately lead not only to disappointment but also to despair.
What we seek to do at a Christian university is express our faith through the love of God, a love that takes place with all the heart, mind, and strength. To love God with the mind does not negate the importance of our emotions or our physical activity, but loving God with emotional trust is hampered and diminished greatly when it’s done without a stewardship of the mind.
C. S. Lewis once wrote—and I paraphrase—that you don’t have to be educated to be a Christian, but being a Christian is a great education. Certainly the students at HBU don’t have to choose between faith and a formal education. How wonderful it is to have an opportunity to receive a formal education shaped and influenced by the faith of great mentors, counselors, and academics like those at the University—faculty and staff who themselves are submitted to the mind of Christ. To love the Lord your God with all the mind, as well as the emotions and strength, allows for the development and use of all the gifts available to us to live with wisdom and influence.
In some circles, it’s fashionable to tout the lack of education of some Christian leaders—and I have no doubt that many great ones have had no formal education. But almost every Christian leader I’ve known has wished for the opportunity to learn more. In that connection, it’s also fascinating to notice how the writers of the New Testament were prepared for the amazing task of intellectual, philosophical, and theological integration that they achieved when God filled them with the Spirit and used them to write the Scriptures. One of the most brilliant minds in the classical world is reflected in the life and works of the apostle Paul, the lawyer-theologian-politician who wrote thirteen books of the New Testament. But even Paul was outdone in terms of sheer word count by Luke, the brilliant, apparently classically trained writer who by tradition was also a medical doctor. Luke’s two works, Luke and Acts, account for a slightly greater percentage of the New Testament than the writings of Paul, and together they wrote more than half of the New Testament.
These two Christian leaders are only the start when it comes to minds acutely prepared to do God’s work. Matthew was, according to tradition, the note taker of the twelve apostles. It was his job to record what Jesus said, something he did with a precision enhanced by his abilities in record keeping as a tax gatherer—before he became a follower of Jesus. And then there’s the anonymous author of Hebrews, who wrote the book that provided an astounding integration of Old Testament Levitical laws regarding purity, sacrifice, and priesthood and showed how these are fulfilled through the priesthood and sacrificial, purifying blood of the resurrected and ascended high priest, the Son of God himself. And I could go on regarding other New Testament writers. The grammar is simple when it comes to the Greek of some, but the theology is profound, and they are all writing in at least a second language.
Our work at HBU is focused on producing whole persons—people who by their submission of heart, mind, and body to the living God as revealed through Jesus Christ are able to be salt and light in the world. It is through preparation and hard work, through a faithful education, that our students are able to lead and serve others in their families, churches, businesses, and other institutions. And by excelling in the worlds of arts and entertainment, business and finance, education and entrepreneurship, they are better able to do God’s work in the world.
Thank you for your love, support, and prayers for HBU. In all that we do, we strive to submit ourselves through learning and faith to the comprehensive truths revealed in Scripture, the creation, and society—to all the truths of God embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.