Jamie Smith, as always, pulls the curtain back from those who think they are doing their scholarship from some neutral space, as if they had been dropped down directly from heaven, at this moment in time, with all knowledge, and no past or context. As always, the “wizard” turns out to be a person, like us, with a name, history, space, context, and all the rest.
The upshot, that Oppenheimer can’t consider (nor can Smith & Regnerus, apparently), is that there are no “neutral” or “unbiased” scholars. So it’s not a question of whether faith informs scholarship, but which. Let’s just take the example of sociology: maybe there isn’t a “Christian way to crunch numbers,” but the number-crunching is only an instrumental slice of sociological scholarship. Social scientific research is governed by deep notions of flourishing that are not “objective” or universal but rather emerge from stories and narratives and mythologies that are believed. (Here I’m just repeating Smith’s own argument in Moral, Believing Animals!)