Announcements: What’s New with Our Pietism Book

Cover of The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher EducationDespite my being out of the country for three weeks, I’m happy to report that there’s been plenty of activity around The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons.

• IVP Academic published a Q&A with me that serves as a brief introduction to key themes of the book. Here’s a sample:

What do you want readers to take away after reading the essays in this volume?

We contend that Pietism can sustain a distinctive vision for Christian higher education, one that aims at the transformation of the whole person and—through those individual renewals—the larger renewal of the church and the world. That education is centered on our shared, convertive experience of Jesus Christ as he is encountered in a learning community that is strongly marked by the virtues of love, hope and humility, and by an “irenic spirit” that is at once evangelical and peaceable.

• You can also find a preview version on Google Books.

(For a longer preview, see the four-part series I published just before leaving for Europe.)

• For those who would like a non-paper version of the book, it’s now available for e-readers. ($9.99 on Kindle.)

• While I know that more formal reviews are forthcoming in journals, some fortunate reader still has the chance to write the far-more-influential first Amazon review!

• My column in the newest issue of Pietisten tells a bit more of the story of the book, and shares what I appreciate about other Christian traditions’ visions for education. Another snippet:

Particularly because it’s so easy to set up projects like ours in opposition to a Reformed model, we should go out of our way to celebrate scholars like [George] Marsden, [Mark] Noll, [Nicholas] Wolterstorff, and [Alvin] Plantinga, whose intellectual strengths are matched by their heartfelt love of God and their commitment to seek first God’s Kingdom.

In a future column, I plan to suggest some implications of our vision for education outside of colleges and universities — in particular, for Christian formation within the church.

• I’ve agreed to visit a couple of Christian college campuses this spring to speak about the book. I’ll share those details once they’re finalized, and would be happy to continue the conversation elsewhere if your college (or church, for that matter) is interested in having me.

• Finally, I had a lot of plane and train time this month to think through what I’d like to do with the book here at the blog — and perhaps even to dip my toe back into the world of podcasting

I’m especially interested in expanding the conversation in two ways: first, by getting the perspective of people outside of Bethel; and second, by filling in some of the gaps in the book (e.g., it has nothing to say about how Pietists would approach seminary, graduate, or adult education, or campus ministries and student development, or most professional fields of study).

One thought on “Announcements: What’s New with Our Pietism Book

  1. Welcome back to blogging, Chris. You asked how Pietism impacts seminary education. At the seminary where I have taught (sixteen years now) have a full time Director of Spiritual Formation and require all students and faculty to participate in weekly “covenant groups.” The covenant group I participate in (which I think is fairly typical) begins the hour with brief sharing (witness of what God is doing in our lives, concerns for prayer, etc.) and follows with a hymn. Then we engage in lectio divina followed by sharing of insights based on the text and quote from a church father or mystic or spiritual leader. We close with prayer for each other and our community and the world. But this is not a mere “appendage” to our work and learning; all classes engage in devotions (usually once per week) and we have a non-compulsory once weekly common worship time. Our whole seminary life is shaped by Bonhoeffer’s Life Together which we (faculty) read have used as the common reading for faculty retreat at least twice in the time I’ve been here. But we do not pretend to be a church; we emphasize that we cannot be a substitute for church and virtually require faculty and students to be involved in local congregations. The “thrust” of our teaching is never merely academic; it is aimed at discipleship and ministry (while at the same time academically challenging). When considering someone for a faculty or staff position we always focus much attention on their spiritual life and commitment to Christian community–ours and the local church.

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