Dr. George Marsden, acclaimed author and professor, served this week as the keynote speaker for the 20th Anniversary of the annual Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium (BURS). Each year BURS provides undergraduates an opportunity to conduct independent research and present it to a community of peers. More than 100 student presenters from fields across campus offered glimpses of their research in sessions held yesterday. Click here for a listing of all the presentations.
Marsden, a leading scholar in the area of the history of religion in America, spoke at a keynote address Thursday evening in Troutt Theater as well as at a Friday morning convocation in Neely on the topic “The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship.” At the convo Marsden opened by asking what difference it makes that Belmont is a Christian university. “There are opportunities in a Christian university to find coherence between the spiritual center of your life and the intellectual subjects you are studying. But this doesn’t happen automatically. It’s something you have to look for, something you have to do.”
Marsden then analyzed three different approaches to a Christian university with the first two representing the extremes of separatist indoctrination versus an attitude that Christianity and the surrounding culture can comfortably co-exist without interference. However, he argued on behalf of the third type in which faith and learning are integrated. “The most basic question to ask in trying to have a more integrated view is, ‘Is God in the picture when I think about things?'”
Marsden not only wrote the widely acclaimed 2003 biography Jonathan Edwards: A Life, he also authored another 15 major books, over 35 book chapters, over 30 scholarly articles and numerous book reviews. Dr. Marsden graduated from Haverford College with a bachelor of arts degree and honors in History, he received his bachelors of divinity at Westminster Theological Seminary, and both a masters and PhD in American Studies from Yale University. He taught at Yale, Calvin College, Duke Divinity School, and the University of Notre Dame. He held a visiting professorship at Harvard Divinity School after retiring from Notre Dame and is currently teaching at Calvin College.