As an undergraduate at Wheaton College I learned from several professors how natural it could be to link serious intellectual pursuits with simple Christian faithfulness. At Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the early 1970s I learned still more. Several faculty, led by David Wells, portrayed the faith as a thing of intellectual power and moral beauty stretching back over the centuries and—despite many blotches, missteps and disasters—deserving full commitment of heart, soul, mind and spirit. Then at Vanderbilt University I found out how much I could learn about things that meant most to me from professors and fellow students whose commitments diverged in small and sometimes major ways from my own.
When I returned to teach at Trinity College, a sister institution to Trinity Seminary, I enjoyed a year of weekly coffee sessions with David Wells and George Marsden, the latter visiting from his regular post at Calvin College. These casual meetings gave me much more than most postdocs harvest from a year of uninterrupted study. It was a direct experience of the same mixture of intellect and godliness that historical study was providing through other means—though both David and George seemed to have a better sense of humor than most of the great Christian figures of the past.
The whole essay is well worth reading, even if many won’t agree with portions of it. Young wannabe historians like myself have benefited hugely from Christian forebears like Noll, George Marsden, and John Woodbridge.