December 11, 2017
Wheaton College Associate Professor of Theology and History of Christianity Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt won Christianity Today’s Science Writing Contest for her recent essay, “The Clergy Behind Science as We Know It.”
McNutt’s essay, which was selected from more than 200 entries by two judges and then hand-picked from the top five by an editorial team at Christianity Today magazine, is published in the magazine’s December 2017 print issue.
By uncovering historical accounts of Enlightenment-era pastors' interactions with science, the essay confronts myths about the antagonism between religion and science. It is the product of a series of lectures McNutt gave in a course funded by Wheaton’s Faculty Faith and Learning initiative.
“My research on clergy has consistently revealed a different story than the hostility we often hear about,” McNutt says. “I’ve discovered pastors and church leaders who receptively engaged the latest scientific discoveries and experiments. So I wanted to tell that story.”
McNutt says that we still need church leaders and Christians in science to actively engage current scientific advancement and help provide theological and ethical frameworks for the church.
The Christianity Today Science Writing Contest sought nonfiction essays considering the intersections of science and faith. The judging criteria included solid writing and the inclusion of sound theology and relevant science.
Rebecca Randall, Science Editor at Christianity Today, says the contest and CT’s science coverage—which is funded by the John Templeton Foundation—is intended to encourage Christians to examine the connections between science and faith by considering current issues, drawing theological connections, and exercising robust Christian thinking.
“Using her expertise, Dr. McNutt wrote something that none of the other contestants could write, and she did it clearly and articulately,” says Randall.
McNutt earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of St. Andrews and her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. A specialist in the history of Christianity from the Reformation through the Enlightenment, her research interests include Reformed church and clergy. McNutt is an elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is the degree coordinator for Wheaton College’s master’s programs in History of Christianity and in Theology.