The Dying of the Light

James Tunstead Burtchaell

Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998
ISBN 10: 0802844812 / ISBN 13: 9780802844811
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Synopsis: James Tunstead Burtchaell, who has extensive experience in American higher education as both a teacher and an administrator, provides case studies of seventeen prominent colleges and universities with diverse ecclesial origins - Congregational, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, and Evangelical. Using published and archival sources as well as firsthand interaction with each institution he covers, Burtchaell narrates how each school's religious identity eventually became first uncomfortable and then expendable, and he analyzes the processes that eroded the bonds between school and church.

Review: The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches, by James Tunstead Burtchaell, charts the history of 17 American colleges and universities that were founded by Christian denominations. Burtchaell's history shows that each school abandoned its religious roots for remarkably similar reasons. The modern conflict between Christ and culture, he argues, resulted in widespread capitulation by Christians to prevailing secular standards of knowledge. The Dying of the Light offers no advice for contemporary Christians who seek to do faith-based scholarship. "The failures of the past, so clearly patterned, so foolishly ignored, and so lethally repeated, emerge pretty clearly from these stories," he writes. "Anyone who requires further imagination to recognize and remedy them is not up to the task of trying again, and better." Burtchaell's book is lively, readable, and long (more than 800 pages). The author has done his homework so well that when he lays down his gauntlet, the reader's natural response is to rise to his challenge. --Michael Joseph Gross

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Title: The Dying of the Light
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: New

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