Teaching the Devout Student: Faith and Scholarship in the Classroom



Increasing numbers of college students enrolling in religion courses in recent years are looking to develop their religious faith or spirituality, while professors of religion want students to use and appreciate scholarly tools to study religion from an academic perspective. Some scholars argue that it is not possible to satisfy both goals in the classroom, while authors in this journal have given suggestions on how to bridge the gap between faith and scholarship. I argue that such authors are correct and that, in my experience, historical-critical methods can help devout students understand the original texts in their own religion better, comprehend why changes in interpretation have occurred over time, and appreciate the values in religions other than their own. Not all devout students are comfortable with an academic study of religion, but many can attain a more mature faith by such an approach.