The Making of a Global Scholar in Brazil
Serving in a university as a lecturer, researcher, or administrator is one of the most influential professions in the world. Every day around the world millions of people--not only students--look to university professors for advice, insight, hope, and inspiration. Global Scholars and those who partner with us recognize the great potential for good and harm, truth and falsehood, even life and death that resides within everyone who accepts the mantle of a professor. We believe missional Christians should also occupy the extremely influential “three square feet” behind the podium, in the laboratory, or in the administration office.
In this marketplace of ideas, every student and other members of the academy need to hear the Gospel as a follower of Jesus articulates it through life and word. But to have a voice on campus as a Christian who knows the Bible and theology is not enough. One must show excellence in one’s discipline, the reason the institution hired the professor in the first place.
Global Scholars professors are passionate about their Lord. But they are also outstanding scholars in their fields. I’m not the only one who says this. Their students, peers, and the watching world think so as well. Let me give you a current example.
Lucas Freire was born and raised in Brazil. He grew up during a time of severe economic and social crisis. Many fellow citizens hungered for new answers even if those answers came from radical sources. When Lucas was in high school, he had economics teachers who taught Marxist dogma as if it were the truth.
What he heard at church was very different. His pastor taught that there is a God. He also preached that to understand the Gospel and His purpose for our lives we need to integrate the biblical worldview with our lives and work. Lucas began to think about how God might use him to change Brazil--to offer help and hope. Then a Christian friend introduced him to the writings of the great Dutch Christian statesman, Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). Reading the works of this public intellectual convinced Lucas to become a university professor.
Lucas went to the university and excelled. He did his graduate studies in political science at the University of Exeter (UK). Today Lucas is influencing his students through lectures and having a significant impact inside and outside Brazil. He is Assistant Professor of Economics at Mackenzie University in São Paulo and is a leader in the university’s Center for Economic Freedom. He is passionate about integrating his Christian worldview with social theory. His students are getting the message.
Recently, thought leaders outside Brazil recognized Lucas’ work. In May, the Acton Institute, a non-profit think tank, announced that Lucas was the recipient of their prestigious Novak Award for 2018. The award recognizes his “outstanding research in the fields of philosophy, religion, and economics in the ancient Near East.” Lucas will receive the award along with its $15,000 prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 5. At that time he will deliver the Calihan Lecture as part of a conference at which he is receiving equal billing with Yale’s Miroslav Volf and Oxford’s Richard Turnbull.
We thank God that Lucas is one of our fellows. We expect each of our professors to carry out duties in higher education with excellence and conviction in keeping with the Global Scholars purpose and statement of faith. What Virginia sociology professor James Davison Hunter said is true of Lucas and every Global Scholars professor: "To be Christian is to be obliged to engage the world, pursuing God’s restorative purposes over all of life..." May the tribe of excellent Christian missional professors increase!
Would you like to hear Dr. Lucas Freire’s Calihan Lecture on November 5, but can’t go to Grand Rapids? You can sign up for the livestream of the event and watch from your computer or mobile device! Just register at http://offers.acton.org/livestreamsignup and the conference organizers will notify you when Lucas speaks!
For Christ and Universities Worldwide,
Dr. Stan W. Wallace
Global Scholars President & CEO
James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World
(Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 4.