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The Outrageous Idea of Christian Teaching

Perry Glanzer, Nathan Alleman


Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: August 26, 2019
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0190056487
ISBN-13: 978-0190056483

Hundreds of thousands of professors claim Christian as their primary identity, and teaching as their primary vocational responsibility. Yet, in the contemporary university the intersection of these two identities often is a source of fear, misunderstanding, and moral confusion. How does being a Christian change one’s teaching? Indeed, should it?

Inspired by George Marsden’s 1997 book The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, this book draws on a survey of more than 2,300 Christian professors from 48 different institutions in North America, to reveal a wide range of thinking about faith-informed teaching. Placing these empirical findings alongside the wider scholarly conversation about the role of identity-informed teaching, Perry L. Glanzer and Nathan F. Alleman argue that their Christian identity can and should inform professors’ teaching in the contemporary pluralistic university. The authors provide a nuanced alternative to those who advocate for restraining the influence of one’s extra-professional identity and those who, in the name of authenticity, promote the full integration of one’s primary identity into the classroom. The book charts new ground regarding how professors think about Christian teaching specifically, as well as how they should approach identity-informed teaching more generally.


Perry L. Glanzer is professor of Educational Foundations at Baylor University and a Resident Scholar with Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. He is the coauthor or editor of nine books including The Quest for Purpose: The Collegiate Search for a Meaningful Life.

Nathan F. Alleman is Associate Professor of Higher Education Studies at Baylor University and a Research Fellow with the Texas Hunger Initiative. He coauthored Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age.

Table of Contents


Foreword by George Marsden

Introduction: The Challenge of Identity-Informed Teaching

Chapter 1: The Fear of Teachers’ Religious Identity: The Historical Origins

Chapter 2: How Christianity Animates a Teacher’s Background Beliefs

Chapter 3: How Christian Teachers Transform Course Aims and Curricula

Chapter 4: Thinking and Acting Christianly in the Classroom

Chapter 5: Is There Really Baptist, Reformed, or Quaker Teaching? The Unique Contributions of Particular Theological Traditions

Chapter 6: Christian Teaching in the Pluralistic University

Chapter 7: Identity-Informed Teaching in the Pluralistic University: Important Virtues and Practices

Chapter 8: In Praise of Diverse Teaching Contexts


Appendix Methodology

Select Bibliography


Discussion of how religion and scholarship meet in the university is a well-established enterprise. The related question of how faith identities affect the act of teaching has until recently been comparatively neglected. Glanzer and Alleman add important, fresh data to this conversation. Their thoughtful probing of how Christian faculty relate their faith commitments to their educational work should provoke all faculty to ponder the roots of their classroom choices.

—  David Smith
Director, Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning

Drawing on both empirical research and philosophical analysis, Glanzer and Alleman inject some needed clarity into often muddled discussions about what Christian faith means-and doesn’t mean-for teaching. This volume will be useful both to professors in Christian institutions and professors seeking to be faithfully Christian in secular institutions. The authors argue convincingly that far from being “outrageous,” being authentically Christian may actually make one a better teacher.

— Rick Ostrander
Author, “Why College Matters to God”

In this illuminating and provocative book, Perry Glanzer and Nathan Alleman offer a definitive treatment of a much-neglected topic: the craft of Christian teaching.

— Thomas S. Kidd
Vardaman Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University