Molly recently began here Doctor of Ministry work at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
One of her pre-seminar sessions was with Dr. William J. Abraham. He offered the students a list of classroom virtues and practices. What are those virtues? As follows, with Abraham’s expanded description.
Desire for Truth
The aptitude to discern whether the belief-forming processes, practices, and people yield true beliefs over false ones. People motivated by this desire will be more likely to conduct thorough inquiries, scrutinize evidence more carefully, investigate numerous fields of study, consider alternative explanations, and so forth.
The capacity to recognize reliable sources of informed judgment while acknowledging the limits of our knowledge and the fallibility of our judgments. This is not created in isolation but takes into account feedback and correction from other sources of informed judgment.
The capacity to tackle difficult questions without seeking simple answers. Ignoring complex and difficult questions only solidifies vices such as intellectual dishonesty, close-mindedness, and rash judgments. These vices preclude the possibility of refining our thinking and of participating in conversations with others.
Be able to say, “I don’t know.”
The desire to engage in an open-ended search for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and so on. Presumed here is the capacity to take seriously different ideas and counterarguments, recognizing that being impulsive in assessing evidence fosters intellectual deficiencies and hinders intellectual growth, both personally and communally.
The willingness to articulate one’s own position while considering other perspectives. Responding to objections entails tenacity but should not be confused with close-mindedness.
Articulate robustly. Deal with objections as friends.
An Integrative Habit of Mind
The capacity to grasp how things fit together in light of one another and how an understanding of this sort relates to the situation at hand.
Molly records Abraham saying, “If you cultivate these, you will be more able to detect the divine in the world.”