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Christian colleges stand in gap against rush to deconstruct truth

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–When Harvard University was founded in 1636, it was established with a purpose: to provide an education built on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. As the College Laws of 1642 observe, “Let every student … consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”
Early leaders of Harvard understood well that a sacred regard for truth necessarily involved a knowledge of the Creator and Source of all truth. In 1998
, however, such a concept uttered on that historic campus would likely encounter puzzled expressions, given that today’s secular academy has all but rejected the concept of truth which seemed so familiar only a generation ago.
The university has become the most secularized institution in American life. If there is, indeed, a culture war going on in our nation today, then the university has become the command and control center of those forces which seek to replace our Judeo-Christian heritage with a secular, postmodern mind-set. Many of those universities which, like Harvard and Yale, were established to honor Christ and to train young people for his service, today reject the very notion that faith has any relationship to the intellectual task.
This secularized environment pervades many campuses where the understanding of their religious heritage has become an uncomfortable piece of history rather than a living reality. Those who lead the academy from their outposts in major universities have set out to deconstruct truth so that the very notion is sapped of its meaning. The search for truth has been replaced by the glorification of tolerance as the preeminent virtue; all lifestyle options (heterosexuality, homosexuality, premarital promiscuity) are considered value-neutral on today’s seemingly enlightened campuses.
In American higher education, the barbarians have not simply stormed the gates; they have assumed the mantle of academic leadership and become masters of the castle.
That is why there has never been a greater need than today for authentically Christian colleges and universities — institutions which understand that all truth is God’s truth, and that there can be no true understanding apart from knowledge of and relationship to the Creator; institutions which recognize that faith and learning are not enemies but essential partners in the task of education.
There is a difference between a merely church-related institution and a truly Christian college or university. A Christian university is one which recognizes that Christ is the foundation on which education is built. A Christian university is made up of faculty and administrators who share a deep commitment to Christ and his truth not as a compartmentalized portion of their lives reserved for Sunday, but as a guiding philosophy and foundation which influences every part of the educational endeavor.
At a Christian university, professors understand that every discipline stands under the authority of Christ. That doesn’t mean teaching Christian chemistry, but teaching chemistry from a perspective of faith in a God who created this world and all that is in it. That doesn’t mean teaching Christian business, but teaching future business leaders that Christian values must undergird their future actions. In every field and every academic discipline, Christian faculty will bring a profoundly different approach and philosophy to the classroom than that found in the secularized academy.
In a Christ-centered university, professors help students understand how their Christian faith is integrated with academic disciplines and professional vocations. The goal is to graduate young men and women who enter the future with an enlarged sense of Christian commitment as well as professional excellence.
Today’s Christian colleges and universities are providing an intellectual bulwark against the secularizing cultural trends that have swept through American higher education. If any institution is going to demonstrate the integration of faith and learning, it will be our Christian universities. If any institution is going to train America’s next generation of leaders that truth has meaning, it will be our Christian universities.
If Southern Baptists are to profoundly shape the intellectual and cultural attitudes of the 21st century, Christian colleges and universities may well be among our churches’ most valuable partners in training leaders for tomorrow’s churches, our communities and our nation.

    About the Author

  • Michael Duduit