Speaking of theory, one of the benefits of studying Christian higher education around the globe is that you discover American blind spots. As mentioned in earlier newsletters, one of those blind spots pertains to American professors’ failure to develop Christian theory.
This deficiency came into sharp relief for me when I studied Christian higher education in former communist countries. Professors in these countries had experienced what it was like to have an anti-Christian worldview and source for theory (atheistic forms of Marxist theory) infiltrate every aspect of their lives and every aspect of their education. Thus, they had to learn how to identify that influence and create Christian counter theories in disciplines such as history, psychology, etc. Moreover, once communism fell they had to create Christian theory that did not fall prey to the same ideological problems produced by Marxist scholarship that often elevated ideology over empirical realities.
Sadly, I find American academics often unaware of the theories that are shaping them (e.g., the current tendency to export the political theory of liberal democracy to make it a life philosophy that guides one’s whole life and not just one’s political outlook). Or I see professors who simply incorporate popular theories without subjecting them to Christian critical thinking that understands both their strengths and weaknesses (e.g., I just had a student e-mail a PowerPoint from a Christian professor addressing a controversial theory that only looked at strengths and not any possible weaknesses). In both cases, students fail to get what they supposedly are paying to receive–a Christian education. If we do not offer Christian critical reasoning and theory making at Christian institutions, we should not be surprised when graduates of Christian institutions fail to show Christian critical thinking later in public life.