Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)




The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze the historic relationship between church and academy (defined as Christian higher education). Although certain external forces, including the decline in denominational identity, the power of market forces, and the growing philosophical/theological tensions between the lectern and the pulpit, have driven the academy and the church apart in recent decades, the claim of this study is that these same forces can be harnessed to draw them together in a more collaborative relationship in the twenty-first century.

Chapter One delineates the scope and nature of Christian higher education in North America, through both a fictional narrative that illustrates existing tensions and a statistical analysis of Christian universities, particularly those associated with the Council on Christian Colleges and Universities. Three institutions utilized for as case studies are introduced here as well.

Chapters Two and Three both explore the changing nature of the Church, specifically in the West but with references to the global Church as well. If it can be said that the focus of Chapter Two is on "forces" or "tensions" (the word "intersection" is employed as a metaphor for the meeting of ideas), then Chapter Three is concerned with "forms" or "practices" (the word "destination" is employed as a metaphor for how ideas are being translated into action). Neither chapter is exhaustive in its survey; such a study is beyond the scope of this project. Both, however, attempt to identify, primarily through the literature, some of the more relevant questions that are being asked and transitions that are occurring.

Chapters Four and Five are intended as parallel discussions of the "forces and forms" of Christian higher education. Chapter Four reviews the debate on the relationship between church and academy in recent decades from the standpoint of the academy, using the concept of "metaphor" to explicate different understandings of that relationship. Chapter Five reviews the rapidly changing forms ("revolutions") of higher education in the United States and some of the implications that have arisen from the new delivery methods, market-driven methodologies, and student demographics that have characterized these forms.

Chapter Six brings the twenty-first century church and the twenty-first century academy back together again in the same discussion to explore models by which these two institutions may engage in a more collaborative relationship. Such models can grow from the unique strengths of existing institutions, as illustrated by the three case study institutions, or can arise from fresh thinking about the role and function of a Christian university, as illustrated in two hypothetical models introduced here. The chapter (and the dissertation) concludes with a call for relationship between church and academy if these models are to be developed.

The project is supported by an appendix and tabular presentations that provide fuller descriptions of the organizations or concepts discussed within.

Included in

Christianity Commons