From some personal experiences and observation, it appears that the treatment of Christianity at public universities has moved from benign neutrality to open and aggressive opposition. Are students in Christian high schools and churches preparing kids for not only intellectual attacks on faith, but for puerile, vulgar, and God dishonoring language used by professors? How about the dilemma of a student being graded on whether or not such language is used back to the teacher in assignments? How about being ridiculed by fellow students for stating faith beliefs and then having the professor join in the verbal beatdown?
Education delivered in the manner I have described above is not only intellectually dishonest, it is soul demoralizing for students. It is education that seeks to dis-integrate rather than integrate head, heart, and hands. Here is how Niel Nielson, president of Covenant College, contrasts classroom experiences at public and Christian colleges:
Students attend college to learn, and the learning occurs primarily through the interaction with faculty who will inevitably shape how students think and feel about everything. Professors are very bright, very persuasive, and in secular institutions almost always opposed and even hostile to Christian faith. And they want their students to think like they do. Even if professors are not actively attacking Christian faith, they are teaching from a framework that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ, i.e. they are failing to take into account the One by whom all things were created, in whom all things hold together, and under whose authority all things find their unity. Students who study in such settings simply will not learn to think Christianly – unless there is, alongside the “normal” curriculum, some comprehensive and systematic study that demonstrates the preeminence of Jesus Christ and the biblical reality that in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3), and does so for every academic discipline which the student studies. Unfortunately such parallel study rarely happens, and most campus ministers, gifted as they are, do not have the capabilities to help students deal with the relentless and powerful imprint of sophisticated secular scholarship in all the academic fields.
He goes on to ask the same question that I have often wondered about parents who choose public K-12 education over Christian education:
Why do so many Christians continue to fail to grasp the utterly crucial importance of shaping the mind and the heart in the educational process itself? Many Christian parents, who devote themselves so diligently to caring for their children’s souls, miss the very point of college education, opting instead for short-sighted emphases on university traditions, prestige, and the perceived path to a good job, and launch their children into learning contexts where they are inundated by ways of thinking that the parents undoubtedly abhor but willingly allow to shape their children’s minds and hearts. And perhaps even more important, the children of these Christian parents miss the glorious opportunity, in the educational context, to see how everything in creation fits together under the kingly rule of Jesus.
To read his post, “Christian Education as Preparation for Life” on his blog, please click here. CSI commercial moment ☺ – we look forward to hearing more from Dr. Nielson as one of our keynote speakers at our summer leadership convention this coming summer.