The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar: Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind

by William Lane Craig and Paul M. Gould, eds.

This book explores for contemporary academics the challenge posed a quarter of a century earlier by Charles Malik: recapturing the great universities for Jesus Christ can and must be done through scholars who live out an integrated focus on the two tasks of saving the soul and the mind.

Crossway Books, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187, 2007, 200 pages, $18.99.

Reviewed by Evvy Hay Campbell, associate professor and chair, intercultural studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

Bracingly forthright, as was Charles Malik himself, The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar brings the keen insights and substantial experience of esteemed Christian academics to bear on Malik’s brilliant address “The Two Tasks,” given from the steps of the Billy Graham Center at its 1980 dedication in Wheaton, Illinois. This festschrift, conceived in the 2006 centenary year of Dr. Malik’s birth, explores for contemporary academics the challenge posed a quarter of a century earlier by Malik: recapturing the great universities for Jesus Christ can and must be done through scholars who live out an integrated focus on the two tasks of saving the soul and the mind.

In a winsome forward, Malik’s son, Habib, provides an enlightening portrait of his father who ever struggled to balance his life on the world’s stage in Washington and at the United Nations—where he served both as president of the Human Rights Commission and president of the UN General Assembly—with his love of the contemplative academic life. Malik’s Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard under Alfred North Whitehead served him well throughout his forty years of challenging the empty and inhuman ideology of the then-mighty Soviet Union, whose demise he confidently predicted. Yet this charismatic public figure was known by his son as a “jovial, gentle, pleasant, and humble” man whose most abiding feature was his strong faith in Jesus Christ and whose greatest love was “the life of the mind and the spirit.”

The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar is best read for what it is: rich and varied personal perspectives on the integration of the two tasks. Peter Kreeft reminds us that Malik’s question is not “What does the university think of Jesus Christ,” but rather, “What does Jesus Christ think of the university?” Drawn from his thirty-eight years at Texas A&M and Baylor, Walter Bradley writes engagingly of practical ways to minister to students and colleagues in the sciences. John North, professor of English at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, tells poignantly of responding to a student overcome with the shame of undergraduate immorality. Paul Gould and William Lane Craig deftly bookend the diverse essays with cohesive overviews. Questions following each chapter stimulate consideration of the issues raised and would be helpful for small groups or classes using the text.

This is a vital read for all who know that ideas have consequences and that universities shape those ideas. I heartily recommend it.

Check these titles:
Chappell, Dorothy F. and E. David Cook, eds. 2005. Not Just Science: Questions Where Christian Faith and Natural Science Intersect. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.

Jacobsen, Douglas and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen. 2004. Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Litfin, Duane. 2004. Conceiving the Christian College. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. 2004. Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

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