Modern culture, more than ever, needs the wisdom, knowledge and research that is being produced in Christian schools and institutions. The Purpose, Power, Potential conference, co-sponsored by the Christian teachers’ association Edifide, was designed to expand the imaginations of Christians to use their power to shape culture and further the Kingdom.
Building on the ideas of Edifide’s keynote speaker Andy Crouch and his latest book, Playing God, the Centre for Christian Scholarship hosted three scholars from varying disciplines for the conference in late October. Each of these scholars has made a professional priority of participating in the public sphere, translating their scholarly work into accessible fare for our wider culture.
Dr. Karen Swallow Prior (Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA) discussed abolitionist Hannah More’s efforts to reform the culture of her day as a template for modern Christians shaping our own culture. She is the author of Fierce Convictions, a biography of the eighteenth-century abolitionist.
Dr. Noah Toly (Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL) is who spoke about the future of cities and our Christian calling to work within the cityscape to shape a fair future for those most vulnerable. Toly, an internationally respected urbanist, is also the recipient of the Centre’s Emerging Public Intellectual Award, recognizing the public impact of his scholarship.
Chemistry professor Dr. Peter Mahaffy (The King’s University, Edmonton, AB) spoke about the role of story-telling in helping people to understand complicated scientific issues like climate change. Mahaffy is co-director of The King’s Centre for Visualization in Science.
Each of these speakers demonstrated the tangible ways in which they use their scholarly privilege as a springboard for engaging culture and informing the general public—unabashedly doing so from their Christian perspective.
At a closing reception celebrating the Centre’s inaugural conference, Brian Dijkema ’04, Program Director of Work and Economics at Cardus, spoke of that intersection of education and public impact. “At Redeemer, I fell in love with wisdom,” he said. “Wisdom helps us develop and order the ideas that allow us to love properly our culture and our world. That’s why Christian scholarship, supported by Christian schools at all levels, is essential—it helps us unpack the ideas that are needed by the public sphere we are called to serve.”
It’s that kind of impact that is celebrated by the Centre for Christian Scholarship, inspiring Redeemer’s faculty, students, alumni and supporters, to take what they have learned at Redeemer and to share it with wider cultural conversations our neighbours are having.