My latest book, Consider No Evil: Two Faith Traditions and the Problem of Academic Freedom in Religious Higher Education, which I co-authored with Menachem Wecker, is now available in paperback and for Kindle. The book looks at academic freedom issues from within Christian and Jewish worlds, with mine focusing on the evangelical background in which I was raised, educated, and where I taught as a professor for a while.
Cascade Books, 2014
Cover image: “The Death of Socrates” (Jacques-Louis David, 1787)
If you’ve ever wondered why theology plays such a prominent role in guiding and policing Christian higher education, then Consider No Evil will take you into that world. Throughout the book I engage stories of faculty and students who found themselves in conflict with their schools over their acceptance of evolution, conclusions about gender, or other theological disagreements. The stories are tragic, but they often demonstrate that theology is not only the most powerful department in evangelical schools, it might also be said to be their reason for existing.
Even causal acquaintances of the Bible know that the Truth shall set you free, but in the pursuit of that Truth in higher education–particularly in Christian or Jewish seminaries–there are often many casualties suffered along the way. What happens when faculty and students at religious academies butt heads with senior staff or dare to question dogmas or sacred cows that the institution cherishes? Consider No Evil examines seminaries affiliated with two faith traditions—Christian and Jewish—and explores the challenges, as well as prospective solutions, confronting those religious academies when they grapple with staying true to their traditions, as they interpret them, while providing an arena that incubates honest and serious scholarship.
“When students ask me about truth, I always send them to the religion department. In the future I will point them to Consider No Evil, a work that has contrived successfully to carry water on both shoulders. This is an important book, well written, thoughtfully providing an insider’s view of historically private institutions. I recommend it for students of higher education in both secular and religious institutions.”
~ Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, University Professor and Emeritus President, The George Washington University
“Consider No Evil is a gift to scholars, clergy, and students alike. It provides historical, social, and personal context to clarify the thorny issues surrounding academic freedom at religious institutions of higher learning. With great nuance and insight, Withrow and Wecker promote transparency and forthrightness as a means of avoiding tension between scholars and their institutions.”
~ Joshua Stanton, Assistant Rabbi, Temple B’nai Jeshurun, New Jersey
“In Consider No Evil, Withrow and Wecker act as spiritual guides in the complex, fraught, and persistently influential world of religious education. Using their own orthodox religious training as a springboard, the authors start a much-needed conversation on the tension inherent in the religious goal of transmission of tradition and the educational goal of the unobstructed search for truth. Consider No Evil should be required reading for all who study, teach, or preach within the hallowed halls of seminaries, yeshivas, and divinity schools.”
~ Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor, The Huffington Post