This list caught my eye: the “Most Brilliant Christian Professors.” Their institutional affiliations and specialties are all over the map, which is interesting in its own way, and it reminded me of a conversation I once had in graduate school.
One of my professors took me to the side after class and asked, “Is it true you are a Christian?” “Yes,” I replied, uncertain of where the question was leading. “I’m surprised,” the professor continued, “since your work is very strong. That’s really interesting.”
The question bothered me, not as a point of offense (“anti-Christian bias in the academy”), but rather that the reputation many Christian students have is that they are intellectually lazy or perform shoddy work. Certainly a bias may be in play, as well as the reality of the general ennui of being an 18-22 year old, but when I taught at secular institutions, I found this to be true way too often. I see it too often at Christian colleges as well.
Part of the great Christian Intellectual Tradition is the playing out of the intellectually apt principles that derive from biblical revelation: the existence and knowability of truth, the ultimate meaningfulness and purpose of the universe, and so on. Another part, though, is the belief that how we apply ourselves to tasks matters as well. We are to do things with all of our might (Eccl. 9:10) as unto the Lord. The luminaries cited in the list have certainly fulfilled this principle.
There are, however, countless other Christian intellectuals laboring in relative obscurity who lift up students’ eyes and minds to see transcendence and discovery throughout the academic universe. I thought I would prompt our readers to give “props” to some of these professors, especially those at Christian colleges where the teaching loads, mentorship responsibilities, and paucity of resources limit their ability to run with the “big dogs,” but who are stellar thinkers and disciplers.
Any names come to mind?