During the 1964 winter term distinguished scholars presented the Frank Gerstein Lectures for 1964, the third series of Invitation Lectures to be delivered at York University. The theme "Religion and the University" was selected, states President Murray Ross in his Introduction, because of a desire to raise some important and highly relevant questions concerning the place and nature of religion in the university.
Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, defending research in religious studies at the secular university, maintains that the university atmosphere helps contribute to excellence in theological and biblical scholarship, and in the education of the clergy, and that the housing of such studies in the university is valuable, too, in facilitating exchanges of methods and materials with other academic disciplines. He insists that any religious faith must be able to stand up to objective research.
William G. Pollard believes that the scientific age has imprisoned the mind and spirit of man. He challenges the university to seek actively the recovery of the capacity, lost by modern man, to respond to and know a whole range of reality external to himself, which Western man, in earlier centuries, quite naturally possessed.
Maurice N. Eisendrath urges that now, as in biblical times, there is a need for angry men -- with anger defined as "righteous wrath" -- to speak out against social injustices. He feels that the expression of this anger is the responsibility of the university as well as the church.
Charles Moeller, discussing the importance of the humanistic approach in religion, maintains that there is no conflict between religious studies and the liberty of scientific research. He begins by stating contemporary criticisms of the Roman Catholic church, including the objections of the Marxists and the Existentialists, and of the modern man who thinks religion has nothing to offer as a solution to contemporary problems. He believes that such criticisms are the reverse side of a "process of purification" of both the Roman Catholic Church and religion in general. He goes on to show how the university is an ideal place for the critical study of contemporary irreligion.
Finally, Alexander Wittenberg, in his discussion of the relationship between religion and the educational function of the university, states that while religion is the private concern of the individual, it has a legitimate role in extracurricular university life, where its function is an enrichment of the student's inner experience and vision of life, and a broadening and deepening of his capacity for empathy. To accomplish this he must be prepared to understand living with a religious faith, with a different faith, and without a faith, and it is the duty of the university to make possible this experience and this understanding.