Last weekend, about 45 Christian postgrads, postdocs, early career academics and those who work with them gathered at Dovedale House in the tiny village of Ilam in the Peak District. Together we worshipped, listened to talks, ate, shared our stories, went on walks and even had a barn dance! Having been to the conference every year since 2008, every year I am amazed again by the excitement that develops from recognizing each other’s passion and struggles as Christians in academia.
I’m trying to be a serious academic, but sometimes it feels that considering how my faith impacts my discipline is merely an interesting sideline to my work. It’s a subject to be confined to my Christian postgrad group and occasional books read on the sly, rather than a unifying principle in my work.
A few weeks ago, we saw that redemption is the way in which God, in the person of Jesus, stepped into his creation to gain the victory over the punishment for and consequences of the fall. However, at present we still live in the ‘in-between’, knowing that we are forgiven now, but that the full revelation of God’s kingdom is yet to come. We are taught to pray ‘your kingdom come’. But how do we live in the light of this coming kingdom?
The third key element of the biblical worldview is redemption. That means God buying back what was lost. And if we take the biblical accounts of sin seriously, it’s clear that the whole created order was corrupted by the Fall. So, building on an understanding of Creation and Fall, we see that Redemption is the way that God’s original purposes for the filling and cultivating of the earth may continue despite sin. In other words, it’s not a Plan B, but the rescuing of Plan A:
When you look at a mushroom, what do you see? You might be attracted by its colourful hood, or by its smell. Or you may think of mushrooms in garlic butter. When I look at a mushroom, I see the fruit body of a basidiomycete. This is because mushrooms are currently a research topic for me. And whilst I see the same object as you, I have a slightly different reaction to it.
Is there a Christian way of thinking about your discipline? I think most of us would answer, ‘Yes,’ but spelling out what that means is usually a difficult task!