|The purpose of the Society of Christian Scholars is to equip missional, Christian academics to have a redemptive influence for Christ among their students, colleagues, institutions, and academic disciplines. In the previous three editions of Addenda, we discussed what we mean by “missional,” “Christian,” and “academics.” But what do we mean by “redemptive influence”?
To influence is to have a tangible effect on something. Christian academicians desire that, as a result of their work, others will experience a meaningful, positive influence on their lives.
Moreover, we want this influence to take a particular form––specifically, we want it to be redemptive. To redeem is to buy back, or to restore something to its original and proper condition. It is to reclaim and recreate. It involves taking something that is not as it should be and renewing it. Theologically, redemption means doing something that reverses the effects of the Fall, restoring what has been broken.
Ultimately, of course, God is the one who redeems all things and erases the effects of the Fall. However, he calls us into this work with him, to partner in his great drama of redemption. Hence, we are able, indeed called, to seek ways to exert such a redemptive influence on those around us in our daily lives.
Since everything in creation was affected by the Fall, and since God desires to redeem all things, the redemptive influence in which he calls us to participate extends to every aspect of creation. It includes seeing individual souls redeemed, but it is not limited to individual salvation. Rather, it involves redeeming everything that exists: ideas, relationships, institutions, the physical world, and so on. It, indeed, understands the gospel to be about individual salvation; but it is more than this. It is also about seeing all of fallen creation, which God originally created and called “good,” again made whole, expressing what is good, true, and beautiful as God initially designed creation to be.
Thus, redemptive influence results in shalom, human flourishing, and the common good. Such a redemptive influence will have three necessary and sufficient characteristics: (1) it will be intentional (not passive), (2) it will be done with excellence (not superficial or done poorly), (3) it will be done with missional intent (done in love for God and in love for neighbor).
That is a big task, one that challenges every believer every day, and reminds us of our dependence on God. But we hope that by working together as the Society of Christian Scholars, we can equip each other and greatly magnify our redemptive influence.