Essay / Misc.

Intellectual Pursuit and Wheatstone Academy

I am teaching this week (and in July and August) at Wheatstone Academy. I am excited about the opportunity to work with students who are interested in developing a coherent view of the world in an exciting and rigorous setting.

What I like about Wheatstone is that they are not like some ministries that are seen as places just to get the “great big book of pat answers” to all of life’s difficult questions. It is not that I am against pat answers. They are important things when you are taking your drivers license test, but I have found that the world is a rather complicated place, and that the answers to most of life’s difficult questions are not very black and white. I have come to understand that research, reflection, nuance, prayer and intellectual struggle (not to mention moments of doubt and crisis) are almost always part and parcel to one coming to a place of conviction about an important belief.

Walk at dusk

Our knowledge is often initially developed in individual academic investigation, but intellectual pursuits are best refined in discussion with other thoughtful people. One of the greatest joys I have in my academic life is having like-minded faculty colleagues at Torrey and Biola that engage me as I pursue different intellectual fields of interest. What I have discovered is that they push me to think about an idea from many different perspectives. They do not let me get away with malformed concepts. In many cases they enable me to put a concept through an intellectual crucible before I attempt to teach on or publish my ideas.

The reason this is so valuable is that these discussions are built on a foundation and vision of academic life that is not competitive or cut-throat. My colleagues see intellectual pursuits as an integral part of the Christian faith. Our discussions are about important ideas that enable us to properly frame our concepts of God. It is because we see our work as a pursuit of a better understanding of God and his creation that we are able to co-labor for the greater good of God’s glory.

Some of my best friendships have come out of working with individuals who are driven by a desire to follow God, and who see the life of the mind as a necessary part of that pursuit. I have also found that while intellectual pursuits can be arduous they can also be amazingly fun. Some of the most enjoyable times I have had have been discussing big ideas with my colleagues.

These next couple months I will get to watch students experience (many for the first time) what I have enjoyed in my Christian life for many years. They get to experience a Christian intellectual life that will equip them to drink deeply of the Christian faith. I just wish that this type of pursuit was a normal part of every Christian’s experience.

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