Today I started reading Norman Klassen & Jens Zimmerman’s The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education. So far, the essence of their argument is that the university is in crisis because it has lost its formative dimensions, succumbing to the pragmatic drive in the West to provide for “pre-employment” training. This is due to the loss of a genuine humanism stemming from the influence of what they call “Enlightenment dualism.” An “incarnational humanism,” which they will flesh out near the end of the book, is the key to revitalizing the university & will provide resources for the student to flouish therein.
While I have enjoyed the book so far, i do have one major initial concern. A couple quotes to set the stage:
university education is primarily a call to self-knowledge.
Yet we will have to undertake this tightrope walk-and argue that the student must similarly brave doing so-if we want to recover humanism as the guiding light for the university and for the character formation of future citizens and civic leaders.
I fear that for Klassen & Zimmerman humanism is more important than the incarnation. I worry that the incarnation is merely serving as epistemological window-dressing, a mere justification, for their greater desire for a recovery of an authentic humanism. Whether or not a genuine humanism is only possible within a Christian “worldview” is irrelevant, since methodologically the Incarnation cannot become instrumental to a greater principal, even one as noble as “Christian humanism.” Karl Barth’s warning against the word “and” comes to mind in the opening pages of Klassen & Zimmerman’s book.
Despite these concerns, I am hopeful Klassen & Zimmerman are going in a different direction than these quotes might indicate, since there is so much of value already.