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Baylor University

George W. Truett Theological Seminary


Christian Worship THEO 7316
Elí Gutiérrez

Chapter 6 “A Christian University is for Lovers. The Education of Desire.”


James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom

In this chapter Smith addresses the question: what is the end of Christian education? He answers
according to the anthropology sketched in previous chapters. He argues that our fundamental
orientation to the world is governed not primarily by what we think but by what we love and
desire. Our loves and desires are aimed and directed by habits. Which are thick practices oriented
to transform us in a certain kind of people. These habits, or liturgies, are practiced daily and shape
our most fundamental desires. Thus, Christianity is more than a worldview. What we believe
grows out of what we do. Therefore, Christian worship is a pedagogy of desire and a counter-
formation. Learning a Christian doctrine does not touch our desires. Smith suggest that Christian
education should not be only information but formation. He criticizes the traditional Christian
universities. Their graduates do not seem much different to graduates in other universities. Their
work is pretty much the same work of everybody else. They may think different but they do the
same jobs. We are not called primarily to think in some way, not even believing some doctrines.
We have been called to be certain kind of people, disciples of Jesus. Which is defined more by
what we do. This should be the goal of Christian education and Christian worship as well: the
formation of disciples of Jesus. Smith suggests that Christian universities should be an extension
of the church: ecclesial universities. If education is always a matter of formation, and the most
profound formation happens in liturgies, then a Christian education must draw deeply from the
well of Christian liturgy. The ecclesial university would be a counter-cultural institution without
being an anti-cultural institution. It would represent a kind of “new monasticism”. Smith
proposes to reconnect the classroom, the chapel, and the church. Also, the dorm, neighborhood
and living areas as spaces of formation. He proposes daily community worship practices. There
must be a rhythm and a regularity to formative practices in order for them to shape the identity
of students. This may transform the ecclesial university in something strange. But it should be
that way in order to be an effective space of counter-formation.

 What does he mean by “What we believe grows out of what we do”? Is he saying that our
worship is the source of our doctrine and beliefs? I would rather say that there is an
interdependency. Besides, I think Smith fails in not addressing the importance of the
Scripture in the shaping of what we do and believe.
 Smith emphasizes the practices as the defining feature of Christians. Is he saying that
Christians are Christians for what they do? I would disagree, our Christianity is not on our
actions but on our heart. It is shown not on what we do but on how we do what we do.