Religion & Liberty Online

Wisdom & Wonder & Interdisciplinary Studies

I was recently invited to write an essay on the importance of interdisciplinary studies for the Calvin Seminary student publication Kerux. In my essay “The Truth is One,” I reflect on the famous quote of Abraham Kuyper,

[N]o single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”

To this, I add a philosophical observation:

[I]f we truly believe that the Truth is one and indivisible, then we ought to acknowledge that all disciplines of study are essentially interdependent, because all ultimately seek to study the same thing—the Truth. And for this reason, I argue that, whenever possible, theological education ought to be augmented with insights from the vast treasuries of other disciplines (and vice versa).

Despite this philosophical orientation, the essay is largely practical. With my target audience of seminarians at my Alma Mater in mind, I offer a few suggestions for how to go about broadening one’s theological education with insights from other disciplines, including the following:

[T]ake the time to read Christian authors of the past who have endeavored to wrestle with the unity of the Truth in the diversity of academic disciplines, such as Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Abraham Kuyper, or Vladimir Solovyov. Such great minds offer thoughtful, Christian models for broadening our worldviews, whether or not we end up agreeing with their conclusions all the time.

In light of this, I would like to take this opportunity to shamelessly promote some of the work that Acton has been doing, specifically through our imprint Christian’s Library Press, translating the work of some great thinkers who model this broader perspective.

I have had the privilege to work in an editorial role on Nelson Kloosterman’s translation of Abraham Kuyper’s Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art, his translation of Herman Bavinck’s The Christian Family (newly released!), and his upcoming translation of Abraham Kuyper’s three volume Common Grace series, the first part of which is projected to be released later this year. If anyone is inspired to broaden their horizon by my essay, these are great places to start.

Furthermore (if I may continue my shameless promotion), be sure to check out Acton’s own Journal of Markets & Morality. The journal is peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary, including contributions from theologians, biblical scholars, economists, ethicists, and other social scientists on the morality of the marketplace and the many rich traditions of Christian social thought. At our new website, readers can search through back issues by keyword, author, or title, or simply browse by issue. All articles are open access up to the two most recent issues, and subscription instructions are included on our homepage for anyone who wants full access.

Or, to whet your appetite, perhaps you could just begin by reading my essay in the Kerux. My thanks to co-editors John Medendorp and Matthew Koh for publishing it and posting it online (here).

Dylan Pahman

Dylan Pahman is a research fellow at the Acton Institute, where he serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He earned his MTS in historical theology from Calvin Theological Seminary. In addition to his work as an editor, Dylan has authored several peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, essays, and one book: Foundations of a Free & Virtuous Society (Acton Institute, 2017). He has also lectured on a wide variety of topics, including Orthodox Christian social thought, the history of Christian monastic enterprise, the Reformed statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper, and academic publishing, among others.