A pastor pulls to the side of the road and starts scribbling notes. The months of pandemic preaching have worn her down, and her own sermons have begun to feel like ash on her tongue. But now the honest, earnest conversation on this podcast has helped her recover her voice. A dam has broken, and the words flow like a rushing river. A few tears hit the page, smudging the ink of her renewed message.
A young man hesitantly picks up the book his friend recommended. Faith has seemed less and less credible recently. It feels like the church offers either pop psychology platitudes or partisan rants aimed more at fighting a culture war than forming lives in Christ. He heard there might be something different in these pages. By midnight he still hasn’t put the book down. He’s starting to envision a faith he could really live, one that would meet the demands of his mind and the yearning of his heart.
The student listens intently as her professor looks around the table and asks: “If the claims in this reading were true, how would your life have to change?” There’s a sharp intake of breath as the student leans back in her chair. Everyone has always told her that she could change the world. Nobody has challenged her to ask whether she should change her life. It’s like the first blast of crisp morning air pouring through a newly opened window...
The Yale Center for Faith & Culture helps people envision and pursue lives worthy of our humanity.
We articulate a Christ-centered vision of flourishing that speaks to perennial human questions and pressing cultural issues, and we foster truth-seeking conversations among the contending visions in our world today.
The Need of the Hour
No question is of deeper significance than this: What kind of life is worthy of our shared humanity? And yet, we rarely pause to let its gravity sink in. There are too many tasks at hand, too many problems to be solved, too many competitors to keep up with. So we race ahead in pursuit of whatever goals we happen to have: success, achievement, recognition, happiness.
Inadvertently, we become experts in means but remain hesitant amateurs when it comes to ends. We can figure out how to do nearly anything. But do we know what is worth doing, what we ought to live for? We seek ever-better strategies for becoming more effective, for getting what we want more efficiently.
But is what we want worth seeking?
Returning to the Pursuit of True Meaning
In 2019, the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA found that 49.8 percent of incoming college first-years rated “Developing a meaningful philosophy of life” as “essential” or “very important” to them (Ellen Bara Stolzenberg et al., The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2019, p. 46). When HERI first asked the question in 1967, the number was 82.9 percent (Robert J. Panos et al., National Norms for Entering College Freshmen: Fall 1967, p. 34.)
When we don’t take the time to ask—much less learn how to answer—the most important questions of our lives, we either drift rudderless on the sea or sail confidently towards destinations that will ultimately disappoint us. And when we don’t know how to have genuinely truth-seeking conversations about those questions, our common life becomes an incessant us-against-them conflict.
Our time needs…
- Higher education that unites intellectual rigor with personal transformation
- Churches that cultivate life-shaping faith in Jesus Christ
- Public discourse that seeks truth without sacrificing love
- Rigorous, honest scholarship that fosters wisdom and understanding
Now more than ever, we need intellectually cogent Christian voices speaking to the intersection of our culture’s urgent needs and the perennial questions of human life. And we need those voices to reach beyond the academic guild. We need to equip pastors, teachers, and ordinary Christians to discern and pursue lives shaped by the Gospel of Christ and worthy of our shared humanity.
To secure the future of this vital work at Yale Divinity School, we are ready to make a bold investment. Led by Miroslav Volf, the Yale Center for Faith & Culture (YCFC) is poised both to share our ideas, people, and intellectual resources with a wider community and to amplify our persuasive presence within the prestigious university we call home. Doing so will require $4 million to ensure Yale’s continuing commitment to equip a leading Christian public intellectual with a team of publicly oriented scholars, innovative teachers, and media-savvy communicators to educate and inspire both the church and the world.