We continue our interview with J.P. Moreland about the InterVarsity Press Christian Worldview Integration series, which he and Frank Beckwith are co-editing. In part one of our interview, Moreland talked about the meaning and significance of conceptual integration and its relevancy to Christian philosophy work.
Over the last twenty years, there has been important progress made toward Christian work that integrates psychology and spiritual formation. As a trained philosopher with tremendous appreciation for Christian spiritual formation work, what might further integration work look like between Christian philosophy and spiritual formation?
There are two areas where Christian philosophy can help. First, Christian philosophers can work out theories of knowledge within which spiritual formative claims can be taken as sources of knowledge of reality, specifically, of how humans flourish. Second, they can work out views of human persons according to which spiritual formation is seen as laying hold of the real nature of human persons and their functioning, e.g., by rooting virtue ethics in the nature of human personhood rather than seeing it as “grounded” in tradition.
If Christians neglect to engage in integration work, what are the costs or consequences?
We will become increasingly marginalized in the culture, Christian ideas will not be taken as cognitively respectable claims about the real world, and people will place Christian ideas in what Francis Schaeffer used to call “the upper story,” a non-factual realm forever isolated from rational scrutiny.
How and why is integration work interrelated with Christian apologetics work?
Integration goes beyond apologetics in that integration should lead to the exploration and discovery of truths in one’s field that would not be readily available to secular thinkers without the aid of scripture. But integration also involves apologetics in which defeaters of Christianity are removed and positive evidence is provided for a Christian truth-claim relevant to one’s fields, and integration also involved polemics—the practice of criticizing alternative worldviews that shape one’s field of study.
Over the years, you’ve not only been a scholar, public speaker, pastor/church planter and author, but you’ve had several opportunities to be an advisor or consultant for various organizations and institutions. Let me ask you to put on your advisory hat and have you speak to various groups of people about their integration efforts.
First, is there is non-empirical knowledge, extra-scientific knowledge of reality evident in my field. Second, are there immaterial aspects of reality in my field of study, e.g., aesthetic beauty, normative ethical claims, linguistic meanings, mathematical objects, free action, and so forth. Third, how would I as a Christian practice my discipline in a way different from a non-Christian and how would I justify a Christian approach? The Christian Worldview Integration series takes these issues up in various fields and seeks to lead by example.
What are the top three words of encouragement that you would give to undergraduate and graduate students, who not only seek to experience how Christianity bears upon the formation of their worldview, but who want their work in knowledge to bear upon their lives and their relationships?
First, remember that this sort of integrative work is already being done, for example, in the field of philosophy, with the result that great gains for the Kingdom have been made in philosophy. So this can be done with great impact. Second, realize that this sort of work is part of your calling in life. What if Jesus asked you, “Why don’t you honor me in your discipline?”, would you have an answer for Him? Third, integration should be viewed as an adventure and not just as a duty. It’s really exciting work. And don’t forget, the Christian Worldview Integration series is an attempt to provide resources for getting involved in this area of discipleship.
What are the top three pieces of advice that you would give to funders (whether individual donors or corporate donors) of a Christian university about the significance of Christian worldview integration work?
First, funds need to be given in areas of missions and development that are underfunded, and this area of discipleship fits that description. Second, we need to focus funding on leadership development for cultural engagement and this area of discipleship fits that description. Finally, we need to fund areas of activity that seek to penetrate the culture in the world of ideas and this area of discipleship fits that description.
In the years to come, what would you like to see happen in the area of integration and this series among self-identified Christian universities, colleges, and seminaries?
I would like to see centers of integration developed and funded at these schools, and I would also like to see the Christian Worldview Integration series adopted as key texts in classes around the country; I would also like to see the series expanded from the nine volumes currently being produced to at least fifteen volumes.