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The Faculty Four Loves

IFES World Assembly 2019 is coming up next week and I’m helping to facilitate a special track for faculty & research students. As it’s being hosted by South Africa, the majority of delegates in this track are from Francophone Africa and English and Portuguese Speaking Africa. We’ll be exploring the vision of fully participating in the life of the campus, the academic disciplines, and the interface with wider social issues. You can see previous posts on this here.

One of the delegates is Kathy Tuan-MacLean who is National Director of Faculty Ministry for IVCF-USA. She’s shared with me something they’re working on with faculty in the American context.

‘We believe the fundamental posture of God towards the campus is love,’ she says, ‘because God’s very nature is love. Therefore, because God first loved us, we in return love God.’

Here, in her words, is how they envisage this playing out:

1. Love God, Love One Another. As Jesus says, the first and second commandment are the same, to love God and to love one another—the foundation from which flows everything else. Too often professors live in fear, anxiety or isolation. Throughout Scripture God says, “Do not fear, just have faith,” because faith in Jesus is the antidote to fear. Over and over Jesus encourages “Don’t be anxious about anything,” promising peace that passes all understanding, promising that the God of peace will dwell with us. Therefore, we invite faculty into a journey of spiritual formation—of knowing Jesus and being transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, Jesus promises He’s present where two or three are gathered in His name, that He will answer their prayers, and that others will know He’s alive through our love for one another. We invite faculty to gather on their campuses to pray together, to love one another, and together to serve as Christ’s ambassadors on campus.

2. Love Your Campus. God invites us to love all the people we meet on campus—students, colleagues, administrators, staff. Faculty who do not yet know Jesus may only hear or see the good news through the love and lives of fellow faculty. We also believe God invites us to love the campus through the work we do—our teaching, research and service.

3. Love Your Academic Discipline. The university produces two products: students & ideas. Back in 1987 when InterVarsity first began Graduate and Faculty ministry (GFM), we asked professors what their faith had to do with their field and either heard, “Nothing,” or “I don’t know.” Knowing that our Creator God has something to say to every academic discipline, we set out to develop faculty who could answer that question. God invites scholars to love their field through seeking truth, discovering the wonder of creation, and promoting God’s shalom in every academic discipline.

4. Love Our World. Most everything that breaks the heart of God shows up on campus, and out of the university come ideas that change the world—for both good and bad. How might God invite faculty to be part bringing Kingdom shalom to campus and human flourishing in the world?

These ‘Faculty Four Loves’ provide a framework that honours and builds up the campus. What do you make of it?

Categories: University ministry Written by Arthur

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Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

1 reply

  1. Hi Arthur,

    Thanks for your summary of Kathy T-M’s comments – great to read.

    1). I was struck by your comment that too often professors live in fear, anxiety or isolation. When I teach the 4 quadrants of grid-group, the 4th quadrant is the authoritarian / isolate, where authority comes down from above, and there are weak or non-existent horizontal relationships. This i the feudal society, prisons – and also university departments: the latter unexpected inclusion receives consistent support from faculty (even sometimes theological faculty).

    3). Delighted that IVF is engaging also with ideas as one of the two products of universities. For a while now I’ve been intrigued at how much university studies have been shaped particularly by French writers – philosophers, sociologists, for nearly a century. Some I’m still indebted to, like Mauss – others, more recently, have taken universities, who drag public thinking after them, into increasing deconstructionism. Not sure why the French thinkers in particular have dominated: but it’s good to see IVF reflecting on how to engage more. How international is this commitment?

    love to all the family, Isabel


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