"What does Christian faith have to do with academic discipline?"
That question was addressed by an Oklahoma Baptist University faculty member during OBU's first chapel service of the fall semester on Aug. 28.
Dr. Bobby Kelly, Rowena Strickland assistant professor of religion, spoke to OBU students during several "fall challenge" services during the first week of classes.
Building on the concept of "The Bible for the College Years," Kelly asked students to consider the relationship between faith and academic pursuits.
"What do the highest strivings of human intellect have to do with God?" he asked.
Kelly said the answer to the question lies in the blending of spirituality and academic rigor. True faith and learning cannot exist outside of one another, he claimed.
"Faithless learning is not true learning," he said. "Unexamined faith is not true faith."
Defining faith as a personal response to God's revelation, and reason as a human insight or critical thinking, Kelly said revelation and academic discipline not only relate but are harmonious.
"We were created to think, grasp, imagine, question and reflect," Kelly said. "This is what we are called to do. We have responsibility to think more, not less."
Tools that are gained through academic rigor allow us to understand scripture, he said.
"The Bible must be interpreted," Kelly said. "All this aids you in being able to understand this revelation. The one who knows only the Bible apart from language and culture knows not even that."
Faith can be in constant interaction with other disciplines, he said.
"OBU is a beautiful place n not because of any building or landscaping or alumni base," he said. "OBU is beautiful because of the teaching and learning that happens here and for which we exist. There is one overriding goal in this place and it is education n and it is beautiful."
Humans are created in the image of God, with both knowledge and reason to think critically, Kelly said. The harmony between faith and reason allows Christians to truly love God with all heart, soul and mind, he asserted.
"The Christian faith is a thinking faith," he said. "The unexamined faith is not worth believing.
"My challenge to you today is to live, love and glorify the Lord your God with all your mind."
Kelly joined the OBU faculty in 1997. He earned a Ph.D. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
OBU classes began Wednesday, Aug. 28. During the first week of school, students are invited to participate in a series of worship services titled Fall Challenge.