(Reprinted with permission from Kirkus Reviews.)
George Marsden’s The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship is a frank assertion that religious faith does indeed have a place in academia. Marsden, a professor of history at Notre Dame, is an influential, perceptive scholar of American religion. He argues here that the academy has trivialized religious faith to the extent that scholars feel compelled to check their belief symptoms at the door. His vision of “faith-informed scholarship” requires scholars to play by the rules of the academy, rules that include accepting adverse perspectives.
If there is a flaw in this short volume, it is that Marsden spends more time answering his critics and defining what faith-informed scholarship is not than in delineating what it might have to offer. His vision is also specifically Christian. Marsden says that he hopes that scholars of other faiths will join his crusade and integrate their beliefs with their work, and he repeatedly asserts that his goal is not to return American education to an old-line Protestant hegemony.
This book will prompt more heated debates about the role of religion in the academy. And despite Marsden’s eloquence, the jury is still out on this divisive question.
This unsigned review appeared originally in Kirkus Reviews. Reprinted with permission.