JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 27, 2007 – Christian colleges and universities must go beyond offering chapel services and Bible classes and teach students how to approach every sphere of life from a Christian perspective, according to Union University President David S. Dockery in his newest book.
“Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society through Christian Higher Education,” published by B&H Academic, will be available beginning Oct. 1.
“‘Renewing Minds’ is a call to reclaim the best of the Christian intellectual tradition,” Dockery said. “In this context we need more than just novel ideas and enhanced programs; we need distinctively Christian thinking.”
That means, Dockery writes in “Renewing Minds,” that Christian institutions of higher education must embrace the idea of a Christian worldview that is built not on two types of truth – religious and philosophical or scientific. Instead, a Christian worldview is based “on a universal principle and all-embracing system that shapes religion, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, the arts, the humanities” and every other discipline of study with application for all of life.
“Grounded in the best of the liberal arts, ‘Renewing Minds’ calls for serious engagement of the great ideas of history and the perplexing issues of our day,” Dockery said.
Dockery has been president of Union University since 1996. Under his leadership, the university’s enrollment has increased from 1,975 to more than 3,300, and the number of donors has increased from less than 2,000 to more than 4,700.
He has also served as chairman of the board of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and is a contributing editor for Christianity Today. He is the author or editor of 30 books.
Dockery said “Renewing Minds” is a book that invites Christians to love God with their minds and to “think Christianly” about the world.
“In that sense it is an invitation to love God and to recognize the importance of the life of the mind,” Dockery said. “It calls us both to devotion and to instruction, to genuine Christian commitment and to serious scholarship.”
The book has received endorsements from such influential Christian leaders as J.I. Packer, author and professor of theology at Regent College; Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; J. Randall O’Brien, executive vice president and provost of Baylor University; Alister McGrath, professor of historical theology at Oxford University; and Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Packer described “Renewing Minds” as “in every way a landmark book.”
“Visionary and magisterial, Dockery’s big-picture manifesto vividly blocks in the demanding standards, proper cultural contextualization, and strategic global significance of Christian higher education today,” Packer wrote. “The Bible-anchored argumentation convinces the head, and the writer’s zeal warms the heart.”
Colson called the book “timely and valuable resource,” writing that Dockery is “challenging the academy to make biblical worldview the foundation for not only renewing minds but also developing character.”
In the book’s preface, Dockery identifies the primary audience for the book as administrators, trustees, church leaders, faculty and staff of Christ-centered institutions, as well as students or parents of students who are considering a Christian college or university.
In “Renewing Minds,” Dockery seeks to provide an introduction to the field of Christian higher education. He referred to a book by James Burtchaell written about a decade ago called “The Dying of the Light,” in which the author examines how institutions that once had a distinct Christian commitment had lost that identity. Dockery said “Renewing Minds” is an attempt to help Christian colleges and universities that want to be faithful to their mission and intentional about their purpose
“Being faithful will involve more than mere piety or spirituality, which by itself will not sustain the idea of a Christian university,” Dockery said. “We need a model of higher education that confesses the sovereignty of the triune God over the whole cosmos, in all spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible.”
The result of such an approach will be Christians who will graduate from college ready to engage the culture with the truth of Christianity, Dockery said.
“As Christ-followers we are not called out of this fallen world, but we are called to engage it and to sanctify the ongoing secular society in which we live,” Dockery writes in the book. “I believe this is the reality of incarnational Christianity. It is the pattern of truth found in Christ Himself. That being the case, there is no sphere of humanity to which Jesus Christ is irrelevant; and certainly that includes the academic world, which is the focus of this book.”
The 264-page book retails for $19.99 and is available at LifeWay Christian Stores and at online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.