Smith, James K.A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.
Chapter 6, “A Christian University Is for Lovers: The Education of Desire” pp. 215-230.
Smith reviews three concepts which he has hoped to impart to readers. “First, we humans are liturgical animals…” (Smith 2009, 215). We operate based on desires, which influence our thinking. Second, some of our practices have a more profound influence on our values than others. Third, this understanding should lead to a careful evaluation of our view of Christian worship (Smith 2009, 216). Christianity is more fundamentally centered on actions than on thoughts. Based on these three observations, Smith reconsiders the task of Christian education, especially in the setting of the Christian college.
Smith considers that a Christian college or University should be in the business of corrupting the youth - shaping character to align with the radical nature of the Gospel (Smith 2009, 218). This goes beyond a body of thought and reaches actions and lifestyle (Smith 2009, 219). Smith insists that Christian education is discipleship with a goal of forming a certain distinctive community, not merely a set of doctrines (Smith 2009, 220). He suggests a terminological change to “ecclesial colleges,” reflecting the centrality of liturgy rather than some sort of academic and abstract content (Smith 2009, 221). This work of the college is intricately connected to liturgy, creating a monastic community of people who can spread a distinctively Christian community within the broader society (Smith 2009, 222). Smith does acknowledge that this may not set students up for worldly success, but that it would certainly make effective disciples (Smith 2009, 223).
As contrasted with the traditional Christian college with a chapel, Smith’s suggestion is that the community needs to reconnect the worship, which is paramount, with the local church and the academic work. All belongs together, as whole students receive training for whole lives (Smith 2009, 225). Likewise, drawing faculty and staff into residency, common tables, and real life with students is vital (Smith 2009, 226). This is a means by which the intergenerational nature of the project can be caught. This can take place on campus or in the broader community (Smith 2009, 227). Academic content, likewise, involves hands-on work and slow, thoughtful consideration of ideas (Smith 2009, 229). Smith suggests several examples. Such a program would be distinctively Christian, built on togetherness and liturgy.