The Historic Role of Christians in Higher Education

Ever since the Enlightenment, Christians have tried to navigate an increasingly diverse culture as well as the various disciplines within higher education. During a one day conference sponsored by Baylor University entitled, The Cross and The Book: Sacred and Secular in the Age of BrowningStephen Alter, associate professor of history and department chair, will address some of those issues through the lens of one of the country’s leading scholars in the 19th century, a Baptist who helped found the University of Chicago. Here’s some of what Alter will discuss:

The University, the Old Testament, and the Baptist Consensus: William Rainey Harper’s Crisis of Conscience

By Stephen G. Alter

“My paper traces William Rainey Harper’s struggle to articulate a scholarly yet reverent view of the Old Testament in the period when Harper was preparing to become the founding president of the University of Chicago, a premier research institution funded by America’s richest Baptist, John D. Rockefeller. As editor of the journal The Old Testament Student, Harper was, hands down, the most influential figure at the end of the nineteenth century as far as educating American evangelicals about critical Bible scholarship. How could Harper go about promoting a greater openness to biblical criticism while retaining the trust of evangelicals, all for the greater progress of the faith?”

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