Our Place in Church Related Higher Education in the United States

Hughes, Richard. "Our Place in Church Related Higher Education in the United States," Intersections 4 (Winter 1998): 3-9.

Richard Hughes describes the unique position Lutheran colleges could occupy in the realm of higher education. He supports this argument by comparing the Lutheran model of higher education with those of the Reformed, Mennonite, and Catholic traditions. Hughes notes that Reformed institutions seek to place all of human culture and, therefore, all of the curriculum under the Kingdom of God. This leaves Reformed education "susceptible to the twin risks of triumphalism and distortion." Mennonite educators embrace a radical discipleship that takes seriously the ethical mandates of Jesus. But they do so at the expense of the concept of the grace of God. Catholic institutions incorporate into their mission three tenents of the Catholic faith, namely the universality of the Catholic Church, the communitarian nature of redemption and the belief that the natural world and human culture (the secular) can serve as vehicles for the grace of God. But Catholic higher education runs the risk of standing at odds with the life of the mind when "dogma displaces inquiry, when orthodoxy undermines the search for truth, or when Catholics absolutize those dimensions of Catholic faith that might otherwise have the potential to break through their own particularity." Lutheran colleges, in contrast, thrive on "paradox, ambiguity, thoughtfulness and reflection," all important qualties in institutions of higher education. In this lies the promise of their contribution to higher education, according to Hughes. (LT)