Comments on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Christian Scholar's Review

Roger E. Olson, Editor

On the desk before me lie two copies of CSR: the most recent issue, XXIV:4 (June, 1995), and the very first issue, I:1 (Fall, 1970). CSR was born the year and probably the month that I began college. It begins its twenty-fifth year as I begin my fourteenth year of full-time college teaching. Like many evangelical scholars and teachers I have "grown up"-- academically, that is--with this journal.

I first discovered CSR while browsing through the library during my first few weeks of seminary. For some reason, I kept coming back again and again to that journal. I felt a "kindred spirit" with it--or, that is, with the editorial policy of publishing timely, progressive, evangelically-oriented articles and book reviews. There were more conservative journals and many more liberal journals. But as a young seminarian struggling to find my niche in evangelicalism, this journal both comforted and challenged me. The comfort arose from the proof it provided that one could be solidly evangelical without being obscurantist and anti-intellectual. (A comfort I greatly needed as I arrived at seminary after four years in a fundamentalist Bible college that seemed to exist for no greater purpose than to stifle intellectual activity!) The challenge arose from the ideal it set before me toward which my heart and mind yearned--an ideal of high level evangelical scholarly engagement with the ideas of (largely) non-Christian culture.

I know that I was not alone in that experience with CSR during our and its formative years in the 1970's. Many young evangelical scholars were nurtured both by reading it and by the often painful process of attempting to be published in its pages. The day I learned that my double book review of Donald Bloesch's Essentials of Evangelical Theology, volumes 1 and 2 would be published in CSR I celebrated with great joy! Little did I suspect then that one day I would be so heavily involved in helping edit and produce this marvelous little journal that meant so much to my theological and spiritual development.

According to an editorial titled "Why Another Journal?" by founding editor George Brushaber (CSR I:1, Fall, 1970) CSR grew out of and succeeded the Gordon Review (1955- 1970) and was born with three purposes: First, to recognize and acknowledge the significance of a Christian world view rooted in divine revelation for all areas of study; second, to serve as a catalyst for the integration of faith and scholarship in all fields of learning; and third, to serve as a vehicle for scholars to share their discoveries and reflections with each other.

According to Brushaber, fifteen colleges of arts and sciences, located from Massachusetts to California, agreed to support the fledgling journal. (At the time this is being written CSR is supported by forty-two Christian liberal arts colleges and universities.) Dr. Brushaber's concluding comment in his founding editorial has certainly been fulfilled in the intervening twenty-five years:

"It is hoped, that the Christian Scholar's Review will open avenues of fruitful discussion and discovery among Christians of all persuasions and among scholars who confess the faith of Christ and those who do not. The Christian Scholar's Review is offered as a servant to all who love the truth, who seek after it, and who obey the truth when they find it."

The very first articles CSR published were by Edmund P. Clowney, Leland Ryken, Merold Westphal, and Richard Wright. Clowney wrote on the Christian college's role in transforming culture. Ryken offered a Christian interpretation of Philip Sidney's poem "Leave Me, O Love." Westphal interacted with process philosopher Charles Hartshorne's doctrine of God in "On Thinking of God as King," and Wright responded to the charge that Christianity is responsible for the ecological crisis. A brief "Discussion" by Stuart Barton Babbage titled "A Question of Color" focused on the social implications of the language of color in dialogue with the then-budding black consciousness movement. Following these articles were twenty-two book reviews by now well-known evangelical scholars such as Ronald Nash, John Haas, Clark Pinnock, Gordon Lewis, and Phillip Edgcumb Hughes.

The first issue of CSR set up a model for issues to come. Over the intervening years CSR continued to publish many first-rate articles of cutting-edge scholarship by evangelical thinkers of renown and of budding reputation.

In 1979 founding editor George Brushaber, then dean of Bethel College (Minn.) handed the editorship of CSR over to Clifton Orlebeke of Calvin College. Orlebeke turned the position over to William Hasker of Huntington College in 1985. Hasker passed the torch to me approximately one year ago (as I write) in June, 1994. Throughout these and other changes and transitions CSR has remained "just the same as never before." By that I mean that, as we move into our second quarter century, we are continually seeking to build on the foundation of open, progressive, honest evangelical scholarship laid by CSR's original founders and builders while even intensifying our commitment to and achievement of that ideal---ad maiorem Dei gloriam!

Roger E. Olson, editor

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