Years ago I had the opportunity to hear Kelly Monroe-Kullberg speak about the motivations that led her to found The VERITAS Forum at Harvard in 1992. I was profoundly stuck by what she proposed as the highest mission for higher education: “the search for truth in response to the most important questions of life.”
She proposed that an education that avoids questions such as “What does it mean to be human? Why is there evil and suffering? Do individuals have purpose and calling? Can meaning be found in death?” is truncated at best; at worst a dishonest pursuit of legitimate learning. As a young master’s student years ago I was, in part, motivated toward a lifelong career in Christian higher education by what Dr. Monroe-Kullberg wrote about the honest pursuit of truth:
“Today our constant challenge and privilege, whether we’re in a secular or a Christian school, is to revive and to nurture the knowledge of truth as a Person – as the Life-Giver. As the relentless lover. The author who enters the play. Truth who awakens wonder and the mind. Truth who is a revolution of tenderness for the least and the lost and all of humble heart. Truth that connects us to the heart and mind and power of God by his Holy Spirit within us. Truth who exchanges his wholeness for our brokenness, who loves us enough to die for us. Truth who rises from the grave because his love is stronger than death. Even now”1
We, those of us inspired to engage the educational mission of NCU, face this challenge and privilege today – to seek truth not only with regard to subject, philosophy, theory or need, but most importantly in the person (the life and teachings) of Jesus Christ. In doing so we have the opportunity to inspire in our students an attitude and character of inquiry surrounding the deeper questions of life – meaning, purpose and faith. The pursuit of such a character and attitude continues to inspire me as an educator and is at the heart of my hope for our students in their search for God’s call on their lives.
1. Monroe, K. (1999). Reaching the post-Christian university: Lessons from Harvard. In D.S. Dockery & D.P. Gushee (eds.), The future of Christian higher education (p. 183-196). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.