Shaping Our Inner World

December 31, 1998
Following Christ: Shaping Our World Conference - Intervarsity

Dallas said that if you carry one thing away with you after hearing this talk, he hoped it would be this: "In the renewing of our inner world, we have to understand that our ideas and our beliefs must integrate with the fact that the central content of the Christian tradition is a tradition of KNOWLEDGE. It's not a tradition of wild leaps and blind guesses. We KNOW about God - we know it on the basis of reality that has been experienced and lived with and tested."

Recorded at the 1998 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship conference for graduate and professional students, faculty and mentors.


Shaping Our Inner World

Dallas addresses the profound knowledge gulf between academia and the Christian faith. He expounds upon the often-overlooked role of Jesus Christ in intellectual circles, asserting that the Christian tradition contains a unique body of knowledge essential to human flourishing.  He challenges listeners to transform their inner perceptions of faith, integrate spiritual truths into their professional lives, and re-evaluate the dichotomy between knowledge and faith. This compelling discourse invites scholars and students alike to rethink how they can live out their faith authentically in a secular academic world, fostering a transformative integration of their inner lives with their external pursuits. 

Shaping Our Inner World


  • Addressing Inner World Shaping: Dallas starts by emphasizing the importance of shaping our inner worlds, particularly within the academic context. He challenges the audience to consider how much knowledge in their fields could be outside the understanding of Jesus Christ, positioning Christ as a fundamental figure in all areas of academic and professional expertise.
  • Gulf in Modern Christianity: Dallas cites scholars like George Marsden and Mark Noll to highlight a significant disconnect between Christianity and the intellectual life of North American culture, particularly in higher education. This divide not only affects personal faith but also the professional lives of Christian scholars, potentially endangering their spiritual integrity.
  • Authority of Academic Institutions: He discusses the uncritical acceptance of academic institutions as authority centers and how this contributes to the spread of potentially flawed information. Dallas underscores the need to critically examine the knowledge that these institutions propagate, especially when it conflicts with Christian teachings.
  • Knowledge vs. Faith Dichotomy: Dallas challenges the prevalent notion that separates knowledge from faith. He argues for recognizing Christian teachings as a legitimate body of knowledge, which stands against the prevailing view in academia that relegates religious beliefs to the realm of faith alone, not knowledge.
  • Role of Jesus in Professional Contexts: Emphasizing the intelligence and relevancy of Jesus, Dallas critiques the common underestimation of Jesus’s role in professional fields. He proposes that acknowledging Jesus’s comprehensive knowledge can bridge the gap between academic disciplines and Christian faith.
  • Importance of Moral Reality: Dallas addresses the weakening moral principles in contemporary culture, attributed to a detachment from foundational realities. He insists that true moral guidelines must be anchored in a substantive reality, which Christianity provides through its teachings.
  • Transforming Inner Perception: Dallas stresses the necessity of transforming our inner perceptions of Jesus to truly engage with His teachings and apply them in all areas of life, including professional fields. This transformation is crucial for integrating faith with academic and professional pursuits.
  • Christian Scholarship and Christian Living: He defines Christian scholarship as work informed by a confident understanding of Christian teachings, not merely scholarship done by Christians. Dallas argues for a scholarship that is genuinely reflective of Christian principles, transcending superficial labels.
  • Integration of Faith and Knowledge: Dallas advocates for an integrated approach where Christian scholars uphold the teachings of Christianity as profound knowledge. This stands against a culture that increasingly views religious teachings as obsolete or irrelevant.
  • Following Christ in All Aspects of Life: Dallas calls for a holistic approach to discipleship, where following Christ involves integrating faith deeply into all aspects of one’s life, including professional and academic realms. He emphasizes the need for spiritual disciplines and community support to foster this comprehensive discipleship.