Center for Faith and Flourishing

Exploring the Relationship between Christianity and Human Flourishing

The Center for Faith and Flourishing at John Brown University aims to express, defend, and promote the university’s historic mission of educating for head, heart, and hand. Principled commitment to our Christian beliefs makes us more, and not less, open-minded to opposing points of view. Similarly, seeking individual human flourishing makes us more, and not less, concerned for the good of society as a whole, because humans can flourish only in broader social networks that allow them to discover and to express who they are—and what they are meant to do with the gift of life.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY FAITH?


We mean the Christian faith, clearly articulated in the Bible. The center affirms and supports JBU’s affirmation of the National Association of Evangelical’s statement of faith (found here).

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY FLOURISHING?


We want people to do more than merely exist or feel some sense of satisfaction about some parts of their lives. We want people to thrive. Psalm 1 describes a blessed man who delights in the LORD’s law and meditates on it day and night. The psalmist then gives us a picture of flourishing: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3, ESV). Amen.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY FAITH AND FLOURISHING?


In all, the center strives to articulate the Christian vision of what it means for humans to thrive and to help people do so both individually and together.

“My dreams for this center began in the 2014-2015 academic year, and I’m excited to see them come to fruition. I am grateful to God for this opportunity, and I hope we prove ourselves to be diligent and trustworthy stewards of what we have received.”

Dr. James Bruce

Inaugural Director

The center will promote JBU’s institutional learning competencies, specified for every major, that arise from this threefold mission: academic excellence through the cultivation of the intellectual lives of our students; spiritual formation as students discover who they are and what they should do with their lives, and global engagement, as students become equipped to impact the world, starting with themselves and their local communities through work, service, and civic and cultural engagement.

 

 

CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE CENTER WILL SUPPORT HEAD, HEART AND HAND?


Yes. We can think concretely about these goals. Consider, for example, the relationship between faith—especially the Christian faith—and freedom—civil, religious, and economic.

HEAD


We can only discover the truth about this relationship—the head—through serious and frank, yet free and open, disagreement about contentious issues.

HEART


As we pursue spiritual formation—the heart—we must affirm the ability of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated citizens to think and to live in accordance with the dictates of their beliefs.

HAND


When we think about engagement—the hand—we should consider the relationship between religion and the flourishing of local communities through churches and charities, certainly, but also through trade and civic engagement.

Questions about human flourishing can be most openly and vigorously discussed at a Christian university. We don’t merely permit opposing viewpoints; we want students, faculty, and staff to consider them thoughtfully and respectfully. After all, freedom of thought is essential to people genuinely choosing to follow Christ. Freedom also fosters the creativity that makes markets flourish. And, as America’s Founders recognized, permitting quirky beliefs isn’t a threat to the republic, but its strength.

Leadership


James Bruce

Director of Center for Faith and Flourishing
479-524-7135
JBruce@jbu.edu

 


Daniel Bennett

Assistant Director of Center for Faith and Flourishing
479-524-7142
DBennett@jbu.edu