George Marsden's 1994 book The Soul of the American University ended rather unusually for an academic work--this well-respected historian suggested that religious faith should have a place in the academy. Such a bold assertion sparked a number of heated discussions within and without the intellectual world. Three years later, Marsden responded again to his critics by producing a volume that explored this topic, which he aptly titled The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. As a result of this book, additional conversations ensued in which Christian and non-Christian scholars grappled with Marsden's proposition. More recently, the contributors to the edited volume Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Perspective have added to the ongoing discussion about religion's role in the historical profession and have assessed the relationship between faith and learning in today's academy.
Although edited and written by Evangelical scholars who are grappling with their own theologies in a professional context, this book will resonate with any scholar of faith. Quite simply, the questions posed and the challenges addressed are relevant, indeed, thought provoking; the authors challenge readers to consider how they might take their callings as Christian historians more seriously than the training they received to become secular historians. Therefore, they encourage readers to think differently than graduate school trained them to think, while also acknowledging how difficult it is to make this transition. For those who study Latter-day Saint history and other related topics, this book may ring particularly familiar and should become a springboard into similar conversations of their own.
Cope, Rachel; Fea, John; Green, Jay; and Miller, Eric
"Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Perspective,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 50
, Article 11.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol50/iss4/11