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Christianity Today’s 2018 Book of the Year Award of Merit – Politics/Public Life

Restoring the Soul of the University:

Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age

Perry Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, Todd C. Ream


Hardcover: 388 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic
Publish Date: March 28, 2017
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0830851615
ISBN-13: 978-0830851614

Has the American university gained the whole world but lost its soul? In terms of money, prestige, power, and freedom, American universities appear to have gained the academic world. But at what cost? We live in the age of the fragmented multiversity that has no unifying soul or mission. The multiversity in a post-Christian culture is characterized instead by curricular division, the professionalization of the disciplines, the expansion of administration, the loss of community, and the idolization of athletics. The situation is not hopeless. According to Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream, Christian universities can recover their soul―but to do so will require reimagining excellence in a time of exile, placing the liberating arts before the liberal arts, and focusing on the worship, love, and knowledge of God as central to the university. Restoring the Soul of the University is a pioneering work that charts the history of the university and casts an inspiring vision for the future of higher education.


Perry L. Glanzer (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is associate professor in the school of education at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Glanzer is the author of several books, including Christianity and Moral Identity in Higher Education (with Todd C. Ream).

Nathan F. Alleman (PhD, The College of William and Mary) is assistant professor of educational administration at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Todd C. Ream (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University) is senior scholar for faith and scholarship and associate professor of humanities at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana. Ream is author of several books, including A Parent’s Guide to the Christian College (with T. W. Herrmann and C. S. Trudeau).


This work calls all of us to recover a commitment to the ‘higher’ work in higher education. Reviewing the rich tapestry of university life over the centuries, the authors remind us of the ways that colleges and universities have contributed to human flourishing in big and small ways while also suggesting a hopeful way forward. This is a joy to read!

— D. Michael Lindsay
President, Gordon College

All universities search for a soul, for some unifying vision of identity and mission. So say the authors of this remarkable book, and they comb through the history of universities in the West to show what kinds of souls they have―whether a heart for God’s way and will in the world, for unifying and building a national culture, or for creating more personal wealth and prowess. And they show what a fragmented sprawl of competing visions and ambitions contemporary American universities have become. Can their souls be saved? Only if, the authors insist, they recover a pervasively theological vision, drawing on the only reality that can comprehend all that there is: God. Then they suggest ways in which theology might reintegrate university life. What a grand, sweeping book. I have been trying for forty years to learn how to be a Christian higher educator and to make higher education Christians, and this book humbles me with its breadth of knowledge and depth of wisdom. It should be required reading for this field, especially for those called to lead in it.

— Joel Carpenter
Senior Research Fellow of Nagel Institute, Calvin University

Restoring the Soul of the University makes it clear that the Christian failure to sustain universities in service to God was the result of the failure of Christians to think through their most basic convictions. But this is not a negative book. It is an insightful and historically illuminating account of how the university became fragmented, institutionally and in the souls of those who teach and study in the university setting. An imaginative theological proposal is developed that is a practical and hopeful alternative for restoring the soul of the university.

— Stanley Hauerwas
Gilbert T. Rowe Emeritus Professor of Divinity and Law, Duke University

The travails of the contemporary university have been dissected and diagnosed by scholars and pundits alike. The authors of this provocative volume locate our current crisis in a sense of fragmentation that is endemic to modern universities, a flaw that secular universities are not equipped to remedy. Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream argue that a unified, coherent vision for higher education is possible only when that vision is based in the triune God and God’s story of redemption. Their book provides a prophetic critique of secular education and an attractive―albeit challenging―vision to Christian educators of what a learning community can be when truly centered in the triune God.

— Rick Ostrander
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professional Programs,
Council for Christian Colleges Universities

Combines a critique of the fragmented, secular ‘multiversity’ with a vision for Christian institutions to focus on the worship, love, and knowledge of the triune God.

— The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 28, 2017

I share the passion of professors Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream for breathing new life into the institutions of modern higher education. I share, especially, their deep conviction that the Christian university is the most attractive path toward recovering a unity of purpose for higher education. As this book demonstrates so ably, the deep and nourishing roots of the Christian university wait to be tapped in fresh ways in order to restore a vibrant university with purpose. The promise of the Christian story has always been to offer up a vision of human flourishing for our broken world. May that vision shine with splendor from the halls of learning at the Christian college and university.

— Philip W. Eaton
Christianity Today, September 29, 2017

A thorough and ambitious book, Restoring the Soul of the University issues a stirring call to Christian institutions of higher education. The authors offer a deep historical analysis, along with a careful framing of the questions, philosophies, and challenges that define the mission of the university.

— Nikki Toyama-Szeto
Christianity Today, December 13, 2017

As someone who has studied Christian higher education for over a decade, I see this work as a milestone contribution to the literature and ongoing conversation. It is academically sound yet easily accessible, respectful of historical contributions yet breathtaking in its vision, and clear-eyed about problems yet hopeful about solutions. In short, the work does what it urges all of us in Christian higher education to do―integrate everything we do around the worship of the triune God. As I read the book, I found myself cheering on nearly every page; they have said what has needed to be said for a long time. While they acknowledge that ‘a university with a soul will never be fully embodied on this earth’ (p. 323), they still long for it. When you read their book, you will too.

— Laurie R. Matthias
International Journal of Christianity & Education, 2018