Darrow Miller and Friends

Should C.S. Lewis Have Chosen “Full-time Ministry”?

Recently we published a blog about Dr. Daryl McCarthy’s efforts to place Christian academicians in university classrooms around the world. Today we want to return to another important dimension of Dr. McCarthy’s thesis. He begins with the following cogent observation:

Since the public university is one of the most influential institutions shaping the leaders of our world, it is imperative for Christian scholars to teach at secular universities.  They are fulfilling a necessary and valuable role in the expansion of God’s kingdom.  …  One need only contemplate the difference it no doubt would have made in the impact of C. S. Lewis had he withdrawn from the university to go into “full-time Christian ministry.

Too often, we elevate some vocations over others. (For a compelling treatment of this issue, see Darrow Miller’s book, LifeWork.) We are pleased when our most talented young people choose a “full time ministry.” We honor pastors and missionaries as somehow more worthy of esteem than other Christians.

The problem with such a view is the way it reduces God’s rule to a few callings, those deemed “sacred.” And this is the very limitation McCarthy wants to reverse. Here’s how he puts it:

Dualism and its bifurcation of the world into secular and spiritual realms is once again threatening sound Christian scholarship as a viable calling.  But C.S. Lewis in his address, “Learning in War-Time” responds vigorously to those who would claim that it is “frivolous and selfish…to think about anything but the salvation of human souls.” He reminds us that becoming a Christian does not mean that we no longer engage in “ordinary human activities” but rather that we do them for the glory of God. (The Weight of Glory)

Because I love God with my mind, I recognize His Lordship over all of living and learning.  Thus, I desire that Christ’s Lordship be proclaimed in every arena, and particularly in the academic world which is the fountainhead for worldview formation and paradigms which affect every area of culture and society.

For our readers who like lists, here are McCarthy’s 10 reasons why  Christian scholars and professionals should teach and articulate a Christian worldview in public universities overseas:

  1. Christian scholars should be involved in secular universities because of an obedience to the biblical mandate to love God with their minds.
  2. A full-orbed Christian worldview motivates Christian scholars to teach in secular universities.
  3. There is an explosion of interest in Christianity and spiritual truth in the academic community around the world.
  4. Teaching leaders in public universities is a strategic way to reach the world for Christ.
  5. Public universities are centers of influence, especially in developing nations or nations experiencing rapid cultural and social change.
  6. Saving souls without saving minds will be unfruitful in the long term.
  7. Evangelism and discipling of academicians—students and professors—at secular universities is usually best done by thinking Christians who are committed to the importance of education.
  8. Christian scholars can glorify God through their scholarship as part of a university faculty.
  9. Universities and nations around the world need the benefit of answers and solutions to problems which can be provided from a well-developed Christian worldview.
  10. Jesus loves the university and he wants Christian scholars to serve him there.

– Gary Brumbelow

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Gary is the Disciple Nations Alliance editorial manager. He manages Darrow Miller and Friends and serves as editor and co-writer on various book projects. For eight years Gary served as a cross-cultural church planting missionary among First Nations people of Canada. His career also includes 14 years as executive director of InterAct Ministries, an Oregon-based church-planting organization in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary is a graduate of Grace University, earned an MA from Wheaton College and a Graduate Studies Diploma from Western Seminary. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, Valerie. They have two married sons and twelve grandchildren. In addition to his work with the DNA, Gary serves as the pastor of Troutdale Community Church.


  1. Joan Brauning

    November 13, 2010 - 2:41 pm


  2. David

    November 14, 2010 - 10:57 pm

    Great post! I have wondered about this a lot as well — as a university student with an abiding love of history, philosophy, literature, and Christian apologetics, should I become a theologian/pastor or a history professor at perhaps a secular university (who happens to have a Christ-centered worldview)?

    I agree with Lewis on this one, although I do have great respect for those God has placed directly in the ministry. Especially missionaries who put their lives in danger for the gospel!