The intersectionality between faith and scholarship is an idea that has been debated for decades. Despite the evolution of both throughout time, they have continued to come at odds with one another. Regardless of this ongoing conflict, I believe that these two ideas can coexist, and even be intertwined, where both ideas coalesce as we continue to grow as perpetual students of life.
I am a big proponent of this connected, growing relationship that exists between the Christian faith and academia. Most people who follow the Christian faith exist in multiple spheres of life, so why wouldn’t faith and our independent studies also connect? God designed our universe and those who inhabit it. Those who choose to live their life through Christ love him as they love their life’s pursuits and passions. Wouldn’t that indicate that these ideas must be connected in some way? If faith applies to all facets of life, shouldn’t it include academia? This fundamental belief leads me to support why students – especially students at Hope College – should always attempt to lead lives at the intersection of academics and faith.
But how do we do this? How do chemistry and music students, or the pre-med and prelaw students, connect their own disciplines to faith? This requires careful and intentional care in any aspect of one’s life, especially when it comes to academics. Understanding how electron movement changes the synthesis of different compounds while also continuing to grow and learn as a child of God needs equal attention. Obtaining both types of knowledge is vitally important to become a contributing member of society, as well as a disciple of God. More importantly, our understanding of the faith can help us better comprehend our chosen disciplines. This background in Christianity will allow us to make better decisions on how we want to use our degrees and skills to enact change in the world.
As a chemistry student with a goal to pursue a PhD specializing in organic chemistry, my Catholic faith will drive me toward discovering new medicines that will heal his people and keep his people safe. This integration of faith and studies demonstrates how a strong Christian background can further my career in a direction guided by him.
But why do we even need education if we have Christianity? It is because we as children of God have been placed on this earth in order to do good and live out his word. The first stipulation of “doing good” is precisely why education is a necessity for our lives in this world. When I say “education,” this can mean earning a degree from a college university, pursuing trade school, or even just learning necessary skills that are vital to a functioning society. I emphasize that we must always be learning during our lives, and that gained knowledge must also coincide with our faith.
Formal education is something that many of us have chosen to embark on, but we must not forget this journey’s need for the teachings of the Christian faith. These ideas should not be separated or in conflict, but should rather grow with us, as we too learn to accept a world where our pursuits and faith come together in unity.