Collision Points and the Pastor Professor

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I love teaching philosophy. I teach it at another school in Tulsa which is secular in nature. I have long contended that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God.

At OKWU we have the privilege of working with tomorrow’s leaders. In this way, we influence the future. Together with our students we are no longer living in a modern world. I’m not quite sure when it was but at some point in the last few decades, we began the exit of modernism and entered the new era of post-modernism. So, if you’re modern, you’re out of date.

I believe that we are living in a pivotal time in history. I believe that years from now historians will note that the change from modernism to postmodernism was as big as the change from the medieval period to the Renaissance. That means we are living at a time of great transitional turbulence. It is in these kinds of times when people look for answers. At OKWU we are in the perfect position. To see ourselves simply as employees of a great institution will miss the mark.

As instructors we are like the pilots of ships. We will help navigate our classes through some rather stormy seas. The assaults on our faith will not diminish; they will no doubt increase. Our Western culture is becoming decidedly more atheistic, or at the very least, agnostic. We are not just “teachers.” We are pilots guiding our students into uncertain futures.

It’s not time for us to go on defense. The time is perfect for us to go on offense. We can do this in loving ways. Love has more power than all the weapons on earth. But our faith is not in a system. It’s in a man. We are Christ-followers. We are not trying to get our students to be better “church goers;” we are trying to get them more devoted to Jesus Christ. When that is settled, the church attendance will take care of itself. Every instructor here is in a very unique place to serve God at this critical time in history.

That being the case, we should all be interested in being the best academicians we can be, not for the purpose of the academics, or the academy, but for the purpose of eternity. This will demand of us the rigor and excellence of solid research, and the devotion to a man who died on a cross, then rose again. Nietzsche said “…there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross” (The AntiChrist, Aphorism 39). We will prove him wrong, not by our flawless adherence to APA, but rather by our uncrushable devotion to a risen Savior. At OKWU, every professor is called to be a pastor. And we are called to understand and redeem the times we live in.

We are wrong to bifurcate science and faith. Augustine alluded to this when he said (I’m paraphrasing) “All truth is God’s truth.” We have the opportunity to help our students move into a new world where bad science and bad faith will always be at odds. Nevertheless, we also have the opportunity to help them know that good science and good faith all belong to God.

Robert Jastrow (1978), world renown agnostic and astrophysicist, contemplates this when he writes,

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. (pp. 115-116)

Jastrow, R. (1978) God and the astronomers.  New York: Warner Books.

Nietzsche, F. W. (1924). The antichrist. H. L. MENCKEN, Trans.) New York: Alfred A. Knoph, INC. (Original work published in 1895)


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