The Problem of Agenda-Driven Scholarship

Over the past twenty years Christians have produced numerous books, video series’, and seminars that attempt to to present historical or scientific information from a “Christian perspective.” This is largely a reaction to the secularization of education. Many Christians believe that academia has made a concerted effort to remove God from all aspects of education, therefore we must counter this militant secularization with our own form of religification.

The problem is that scholarship with an agenda quickly devolves into propaganda. When we approach any topic–the origins of life on earth, the religious beliefs of America’s founders, the history of the Jewish nation–intent on proving a particular point, we can’t help but focus our attention on some facts while ignoring others. Scholarship does not have an agenda. Propaganda does.

Selective scholarship is not limited to religious people. Abraham Lincoln is a favorite target of the agenda-driven scholar. Lincoln has been identified as being a committed Christian, a staunch abolitionist, a deist, a racist, a homosexual, and of course a vampire hunter by such scholars. Some have argued that he suffered from depression, mercury poisoning, Marfan syndrome, NEN2B (genetic disorders), or bi-polar disorder. The gay rights activist sees homosexuality, the psychologist sees bi-polar, the secular humanist sees deism, and the geneticist sees MEN2B. When any one of these people make it their mission to prove their speculation, they ignore important aspects of responsible scholarship. Agenda-driven scholarship is irresponsible scholarship.

This is the problem that so many scientists and educators have with creationism. Creationism begins with a conclusion and then attempts to prove that conclusion, rather than openly following the science to see where it leads.

Agenda-driven scholarship also causes us to create enemies where none exist. The researcher who wishes to show that all America’s founders were committed Christians will end up labeling those who disagree as godless liberals attempting to promote a secular agenda. This is why we have come to believe that scientists, educators, historians, academics, the media, and many politicians are enemies of Christianity.

Our scholarship must be driven by a search for the truth, not support of our preconceptions. We must be willing to go wherever the evidence leads. If the evidence requires us to alter some long-held beliefs , so be it. We must be flexible.

When we rigidly hang onto certain ideas, we become guilty of creating a god out of our beliefs rather than allowing our beliefs to be shaped by God’s revelation.

Also read Don’t Defend David Barton for more about agenda-driven scholarship.

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