January 19, 2018

College and Worldview – A Reason for Choosing a Christian Campus

Don Johnson

On July 6, 2016, we ran a piece from a 2005 issue of FrontLine on the question, “Should I consider a secular college education?” The article sounded a cautious note while not dismissing the possibility entirely. Sharper Iron picked up our article and a fairly vigorous and sometimes coherent discussion ensued. With the beginning of a new school year fast approaching (perhaps already started for some), I’d like to add one other line of reasoning to the mix, and that is the challenge to worldview that is presented to Christian young people on secular campuses.

The culture we live in today is the product of our secular universities and colleges (among other influences). Certainly most of the leaders of our society come from them. No doubt these institutions made a significant impact on their lives, and through them are among the most significant shapers of today’s culture.

What worldview (or views) dominates on the secular college campuses? Surely not a Biblical one. I would guess that materialism in one form or other dominates the thinking on secular college campuses. It may be tinged with particular flavors (Marxism, feminism, ethno-centrism, etc.) but at its base is a world one can see, touch, and feel.

Those who aspire to leadership in our society are largely educated in secular institutions. Currently Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are running for President of the United States. Trump attended Fordham University, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, including some undergraduate classes at Penn’s Wharton Business School. Hillary Clinton graduated first from Wellesley College and later from the Yale Law School. Their educational résumés are typical of others who aspired to high office. Work through the list of Congressman and Senators and see how many Ivy League and other elite universities are represented.

How much impact do you think the secular campus has had on the worldviews of these leaders in our society? Granted, many factors influence the worldview of every individual, but one would have to think that college campuses have a profound impact on the thinking of their students — even if the student is one of those who resist the prevailing worldview of their institutions.

The college years remain formative years in large measure. High school isn’t enough to prepare for the world of ideas. The bright young people who enter the college campuses are very inquisitive, ready and eager to be exposed to new experiences and challenged by new ideas. They meet with other bright young people and find in many professors articulate and persuasive representatives of various schools of thought. In such an environment, is it any wonder that the worldview of the campus becomes the worldview of most who graduate from those halls?

When the Christian young person attends a secular school, what is the impact on his worldview? Will he be bolstered in a Christian worldview, or on the defensive for his Christian worldview? Even if he has gracious professors who don’t directly challenge his assumptions, will the viewpoint they communicate from their podiums conflict or confirm what the young Christian has been taught at home and in church?

The secular worldview denies the central ideas of the Biblical worldview. We who hold to the Bible see the world as fallen (and unable to right itself). Those who hold to a secular worldview see the world as imperfect, but capable of evolving to a better ideal. The two views conflict, they can’t be reconciled. The conflict becomes very real on the secular campus, if nowhere else than in the mind of a Christian young person who is faced with the challenge of reconciling his Biblical view with the prevailing views of his cohorts on a secular campus. What will the end of that conflict be? Will the Christian young person prevail or falter in that kind of environment?

Further, wouldn’t it be far better for the Christian to be thoroughly immersed in a Biblical worldview at the level of higher education? Wouldn’t such training help shape him far better for the conflict with the world that is to come in his future life? We do need well trained, well-equipped young people to fill leadership roles in local churches and in society. There are excellent Christian schools available — wouldn’t it be better for us if more young people sought to gain their training at one of these schools? Wouldn’t it be better for them?

No one who advocates Christian education would say that Christian colleges are perfect. But we do have a mission to perform while the Lord tarries. Why would we not use every tool available to most effectively equip us mentally and spiritually for the task to which the Lord has called us?

Speaking personally, I am grateful for the influence of my alma mater on my life. I am grateful for the impact it has had on my children’s lives. I thank the Lord for the opportunities I have had through my ministry of working with graduates of other fine Christian colleges and universities. We look at the world the same way, we find it easy to pull the traces together. We are better equipped because of it. You can count me as one who advocates for Christian college education, if at all possible. It is by far the superior route for the Christian young person, in my opinion.

Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.