STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 03/30/2007



What do evangelical scholars and educators have to learn from their Roman Catholic counterparts and vice versa? Why this topic? Why now?

On September 25 two leading scholars of American religion and higher education--Mark Noll and James Turner, both of the University of Notre Dame--visited Gordon College for a one-day conference sponsored by the Jerusalem and Athens Forum. Titled "Evangelicalism, Catholicism and the Future of Christian Learning," the conference explored these and other questions. Noll, a noted author, is a professor of history and formerly the holder of the McManis Chair in Christian Thought at Wheaton College. Turner is the John J. Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities at Notre Dame. Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard, associate professor of history and director of the Critical Loyalty Lilly Project at Gordon, was moderator.

Noll's presentation argued that "because of recent developments within Catholicism, within evangelicalism and within American intellectual culture, American Catholics and evangelicals--in order to advance the cause of Christian learning--now have special need for what the other offers."

Turner made the point that "evangelicals and Catholics conceive very differently what it means to be a Christian college or university." However, Turner stressed that he was "speaking of tendencies and leanings. There's nothing exclusivist about either evangelical or Catholic characteristics, nothing to prevent us from raiding each other's refrigerators."  

A book by the same title, edited and with an introduction by Howard, is forthcoming from Brazos Press in 2007.

The growing partnership between the City of Lynn and Gordon College has become even more tangible by the opening of a new student residence, Barton Hall. On September 7 the 22 Lynn student residents met Virginia Barton, a lifelong resident of Lynn and an influential educator and activist, for whom the hall is named. Barton Hall is a living and learning community; faculty Joshua and Kristen Kansiewicz live alongside the students. Resident Jen Richardson says, "Living in Lynn helps me put my Gordon experience into the context of 'real world' ministry; it provides application for the lessons learned at Gordon."

Liberal arts is not so much amassing a great mountain of knowledge; it's learning how to climb. It was not really at the beginning of my college time that I began my liberal arts education. It was a year and a half into it that suddenly I woke up. I wasn't totally asleep until then, only semi-somnolent. But then, in an introduction to philosophy class at Wheaton College, Dr. Arthur Holmes poked and probed and questioned. He chased me down the corridors of my mind and my heart. We read the Apology of Socrates: What is an examined life? Why is an unexamined life not worth living? I wrote papers-sophomoric papers to be sure, superficial papers, but the great value of those papers was that in their margins were Dr. Holmes' searching, probing questions. . . .

That's what a liberal arts education is about. The root meaning of "liberal" is "to liberate"-to set free from the darkness of pride and prejudice, misconceptions, preconceptions. You are free to ask and search and probe. Jesus invites you. Jesus says, "Come here, probe, question, search."

From an address given at Gordon's Community Celebration Chapel, August 30, 2006. G. Walter Hansen, M.Div., Th.D., is seminary professor for global theological education at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

GORDON IN BELIZE Planned for Fall 2007
In the fall of 2007 a select group of Gordon students will engage in the new Gordon in Belize program, which will be housed in the beautiful rainforest area of central Belize near the capital city of Belmopan. The program will bring together 14 Gordon students with four Belizean students from a broad variety of major disciplines. They will engage in a challenging curriculum of courses and seminars taught almost exclusively by Belizean faculty. Students will be introduced to watershed ecology but throughout the semester will engage the broad themes of social development, economics, peace, justice and reconciliation. An internship with a Belizean NGO (nongovernmental organization) will also be part of course requirements, as will a final seminar that will include a host of special guests from government, World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund), native councils and the academy.

The Department of Music launched its Summer Music Academy (SMA) in July 2006. The program targeted children in four through ninth grades who had an interest in challenging their musical potential and developing skills in a serious but fun environment. Classes and workshops offered included music theory, solfege, sight-singing, reading rhythms and notes, eurhythmics, African drumming, performance lab and music technology lab. Students also participated in a large-group choir as well as small- group sectionals, and received individualized attention in small-group lessons. SMA 2006 was made possible thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor whose children participate in children's music programs at the College. Planning is currently underway for SMA 2007.

Arts pastor David Taylor of Hope Chapel in Austin, Texas, has mentioned Gordon College and CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) in his weblog Diary of an Arts Pastor as being among the "top ten powerbrokers in the renewal of the arts" within the church in North America. His list of "primary landscape-shapers":

  • Regent College: Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Fuller Seminary: Pasadena, California
  • Calvin College: Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Gordon College: Wenham, Massachusetts
  • St. Andrews University: Fife, Scotland
  • The Emergent movement
  • The Ecumenicals (Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical dialogues, including IMAGE journal)
  • ARTS (a mainline denominational publication)
  • CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts): a Gordon College partner organization

1. Mayan ruins in Lamani, Belize
2. Entrance to Barton Hall at the Gordon in Lynn program


A pyramid in Belize
Gordon in Lynn