Earlier this summer (2008), Comment asked the student mentors who read this magazine this question:
“What book or article you’ve read, in Comment or elsewhere, would most help a student you know make the most of college of university?”
The most frequently recommended books were The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness by Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby, Steve Garber’s Fabric of Faithfulness, Cornelius Plantinga’s Engaging God’s World, and Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.
Denis Haack of Ransom Fellowship (ransomfellowship.org) wrote:
The answer to your good question, of course, depends quite a bit on where the student is in spiritual pilgrimage and the level of understanding of Christ’s Lordship over all of life and culture and reality. If students are wrestling with some of the common objections to faith, which they will certainly face as they pursue their education, I recommend Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God (Dutton). If they need to consider how to best shape their education so that they will be increasingly prepared to be faithful over the long haul in their vocation, I recommend Steven Garber’s The Fabric of Faithfulness (IVP). If they need to reflect on a Kingdom perspective to learning, I’d recommend Cornelius Plantinga’s Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living (Eerdmans). And if they need to have their imaginations fired with the truth of the gospel in a world populated with folk lost in the cosmos, I recommend Walker Percy’s marvelous novel, The Second Coming (Picador).
Laurie Truschel, the Director of Discipleship Ministries at Gordon College (Wenham, Mass.), wrote:
The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness by Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby has been a wonderful resource for Gordon College Student Ministries. This little book is a great tool for looking at the relationship between faith and learning, along with some great personal testimonies of students who are struggling to do that at their universities. The students in my group are all pursuing different fields of study, and have been challenged by the call to think Christianly about academics and vocation. This fall, they will all lead major-specific study groups based on this book, as well as other books they have read over the summer that focus on a Christian perspective of their academic fields.
A little quote from the Introduction of the book: ‘The outrageous idea of this book is that God cares about our academic work. God loves learning. In Colossians 2:3 we read that in Christ Himself are “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Christ is the very source of learning, and His disciples are the intended recipients of that wisdom and knowledge. As we learn in faith, not only will our own capacity for wonder and insight and love increase, but others will benefit as well. Keeping these two things—faith and learning—connected is the key.’
I love this book!
Other books recommended include:
. Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
. Mortimer Adler, How to read a book
. Augustine’s Confessions
. Wendell Berry, What Are People For?
. Nathan Bierma, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth
. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind
. J. Budziszewski, How to Stay Christian in College
. Tony Campolo and Mary Darling, The God of Intimacy and Action
. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
. Bernard Grun and Eva Simpson, The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events
. Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook
. Lee Hardy, The Fabric of this World
. Arthur F. Holmes, All Truth Is God’s Truth
. Milton D. Hunnex, Chronological and Thematic Charts of Philosophies and Philosophers
. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue
. John Neafsey, A Sacred Voice Is Calling: Personal Vocation And Social Conscience
. Parker Palmer, To Know as we are Known
. Plato, The Republic
. James Schall, A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning
. Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass (Eds.), Leading Lives that Matter
. James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog
. Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions
. Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God
. Richard St. John, 8 to Be Great: The 8-Traits That Lead to Great Success
. Strunk and White, The Elements of Style
. Tom Wolfe, I Am Charlotte Simmons
. Robert Wuthnow, After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion
While several Comment articles from the past received mention, those are enjoying attention elsewhere in this issue. Articles from other sources include:
. Claudia DeVries Beversluis and Gail Gunst Heffner, “Introduction: Connections,” in a volume of essays the edited, Commitment and Connection: Service-Learning and Christian Higher Education.
. Bradford S. Hadaway, “Preparing the Way for Justice: Strategic Dispositional Formation through the Spiritual Disciplines,” in Spirituality, Justice, and Pedagogy, edited by David Smith, John Shortt and John Sullivan.
. Laurence E. Musgrove, “Mystery and Humility in General Education,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 54, Issue 36.
. Debra Rienstra, “The Work of our Hands: Serving God and Others,” in her So Much More: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality.
. Tim Stafford, “Who is an Activist?” in his Shaking the System: What I Learned from the Great American Reform Movements.
. Brian Walsh and Steven Bouma-Prediger, “Education for Homelessness or Homemaking? The Christian College in a Postmodern Culture,” Christian Scholar’s Review, Spring 2003.
. Nicholas Wolterstorff, “The Mission of the Christian College at the End of the Twentieth Century,” in his Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education (1983, 2004).
Acknowledgments: In addition to the mentors already mentioned above, a big thank-you to Clinton Stockwell of the Chicago Semester, Jeffrey Bouman of Calvin College, John von Heyking of the University of Lethbridge, Gayne John Anacker of California Baptist University, Gregory Bloomquist of Saint Paul University and Augustine College, Tim Shah of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University, Shirley Roels of Calvin College, Mark VanderWerf of Calvin Christian School (San Marcos, Calif.), Harvey Goossen of Woodland Christian High School, Gloria Stronks of Worldwide Christian Schools and Calvin College, Eric Teoro of Lincoln Christian College, Greg Carmer of Gordon College, Charles Veenstra of Dordt College, Ricard Wikkerink of Redeemer University College, Drew Trotter of the Center for Christian Study, Joanna Balda, Eric Miller of Geneva College, Pete Lackey of the MacLaurin Institute, and Todd Steen of Hope College.