“All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD.”1 What an honor it has been to be a part of The Bell Tower, a publication that seeks to worship God through his works. Specifically, The Bell Tower provides an outlet for his works – the students of Hope – to relay the Lord’s creative, relational, and intentional nature. Each author represented in this publication strives to glorify Christ through research, words, and art. Such glorification is allotted through the experience that the Lord bestows upon each student to uncover their scholastic interests at Hope College. As Christians dive further into their academic endeavors, they are simultaneously diving further into understanding the character of God and giving thanks for his glory.
As Christians, we cannot separate faith and reason. The two do not contradict each other; rather, they complement each other. By obtaining a stronger grasp of creation, Christians are propelled towards gaining a stronger grasp of the nature of the Creator. Thus, isolating the two disciplines can lead to conflict. Pope John Paul II remarks, “God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”2 The yearning for knowledge that is experienced by all individuals is a testament to the love that God holds for his children. He wants us to encounter him through manners that permit greater understanding of the world that he designed.
The integration of faith into scholarship bestows and encourages the practice of discipline. By permitting the intertwining of a Christian’s faith into their learning, the individual remains grounded in Truth. The Christian’s academic work holds purpose and meaning. Rather than remaining unmotivated, a Christian that continuously involves their faith in their scholarship is motivated to the highest degree: the individual is motivated to truly know Christ through their desire of knowledge. The Christian is reminded of not just what they have accomplished but why; instead of the focus being on their own perceived “greatness,” the ability to achieve and the achievements are directed towards the Lord. There is a significant purpose beyond their own being.
So how do Christians unite their faith with scholarship? There should be a focus on what God reveals and emphasizes through Scripture: the work of Christians must align with the teachings of the Lord. Furthermore, a sense of self reflection and assessment is important for surveying the extent that an individual’s actions are in accordance with the will of God. Communication with Christ is of the utmost importance; prayer provides a manner to engage in conversation with God. The integration of faith and academic work is not a simple task. So, continuous dialogue with the Lord is necessary to remain centered on his plan for one’s work. Similarly, Christians should engage in discussions with mentors, peers, family, and friends regarding their attainment of knowledge. We are not human without interactions with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Finally, Christians hold the responsibility of maintaining courage: courage to make decisions, courage to remain faithful to the Lord, and courage to perceive that the work that God is doing through an individual is glorifying his name.
1 Ps. 145:10, NRSV
2 John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Encyclical Letter, Vatican website, September 14, 1998, https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paulii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html.