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The Challenges College Students Face on Secular Campuses
What is happening on the campuses of secular universities across America? Thousands of Christian students are losing their faith and non-Christian students are becoming entrenched in their unbelief. Why is this happening? Have they discovered that God, in fact, does not really exist, that we live in a careening universe with no divine Pilot at the wheel? Or does something else explain this trend?
The Intellectual Challenge
The Banishment Approach
Students instantly get the idea that believing in God is anti-intellectual or at least one's faith should be compartmentalized and not allowed to spill over the transom into the science classroom. Be a believer elsewhere if you want, students learn, but come to science as a naturalist.
We Christians cannot accept this banishment. We have made Christ our life (Col. 3:4; Phil. 1:21), and His Lordship extends to every part of our lives. Certainly the One who created the universe at the beginning (Col. 1:16) and who even now sustains it moment by moment (Col. 1:17), has a right to enter a room where his handiwork is being examined and admired.
It is His macro- and micro-planning, organizing, systematizing, and engineering, after all, that makes all science possible. If we did not live in an orderly universe our scientists would be reduced to historians and statisticians who record the millions of haphazard events as they transpire, but can make no deductions, inductions, or educated guesses about what would happen next.
The Confrontation Approach
For example, they may employ ad hominem arguments, associating belief in a Creator/Sustainer with witch-hunting, skinheads, and the Ku Klux Klan. Or they may use reductio ad absurdum arguments, such as asking how many dinosaur couples went onto the ark, or how Noah could be sure he had both male and female mosquitoes. Or they may knock down straw men, such as claiming victory if they can prove even the slightest changes occur, or limiting creationism only to those who believe the world began in 4004 BC. Or they may commit non sequiturs, such as claiming that since finches differ from one another, therefore, complex, mega-celled organisms evolved from single-celled life forms, and those from non-life.
Of course, we too must be cautious how we make our case, taking care to avoid the same mistakes. But it is difficult to wrestle with an opponent who refuses to fight by the rules.
We need Christian campus ministries because someone must stand up in our university community and affirm the biblical view of origins and of the ground and purpose for our existence.
The Bible clearly affirms these truths about our universe: (1) it had a beginning, all three persons of the Godhead being involved in its creation (Gen. 1:1-3; John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17); ( 2) at the beginning, it came into existence out of nothing (Heb. 11:3); and (3) its interdependent systems are all by God's design and under His ongoing control (Job 38-39; Ps. 19:1-6).
The Bible has a name for those whose dizzying intellects lead them to atheism. Psalm 14:1 calls them fools, referring not to the Stupids, but to self-deceived rebels against God. Just to ensure that we don't forget, the same psalm recurs as the fifty-third. Paul describes those who have given up their knowledge of God as those whose foolish hearts have become darkened and who then become arrogant (Rom. 1:21-23). In all three of these passages, the intellectual rejection of God's existence leads to a moral rejection of God's will (Ps. 14.3; 53:3; Rom. 1:24-32).
The Results of this Naturalism
In a recent speech entitled, "The Trouble with Being Open-Minded," Bruce Lockerbie said: "In today's university environment, absolutes dissolve into absolutism and are scoffed at with contempt. Ironically, however, today's students have been taught that some absolutes survive. Here is a sample of these campus absolutes, of which today's students and many of their teachers are absolutely certain! (1) I think; therefore, I am [René Descartes]. (2) God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him [Friedrich Nietzsche]. (3) There are truths but no truth [Albert Camus]. (4) We have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse. We are left alone, without excuse [Jean-Paul Sartre]. (5) Life is hard, then you die. [bumper sticker]."
Modern American campuses are similar to the ancient Athenians, whom Luke describes in Acts 17:21: [They] spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas. Since Christianity, with its beliefs and practices, is nearly 2000 years old, they believe it should be jettisoned by all who intellectually have come of age. Second, the faith of our students is challenged in and out of the classroom.
As the Apostle Peter anticipated, people sometimes ask students the reason for the hope that they have (1 Pet. 3:15), and our students should be prepared with a good answer. But Peter also said in 2 Pet. 3:3-4: "in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." This is naturalism's doctrine of uniformitarianism, contradicted at creation itself and a myriad of times since by the catastrophes and the disasters of nature. Our students must learn the flaws in naturalism's model so that their faith can stand firm and not erode away by wave after wave of faculty banishment or confrontational ridicule and the peer pressure from other students.
Third, our students are being taught that not only truth is relative, but morality is relative. Isaiah cries: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight" (Isa. 5:20-21).
The Deifying of Tolerance
This deifying of tolerance demonizes any who stand up for moral absolutes and who have the courage to say in love, for instance, to a homosexual, "What you are doing is wrong and is destructive both to yourself and to society." A colleague of mine told me of a Christian student we'll call Ann, whose work at a local AIDS screening clinic brought her into daily contact with practicing homosexuals. She made up her mind to be salt and light in that place, and as a result, struck up a friendship with a lesbian we'll call Florence."
After Ann was confident that Florence could sense her friendship, she asked her why she became a lesbian. "When I was growing up," Florence said, "I was always wanting to play rough, climb trees, go hunting, and other 'guy' things like that. I wanted to be like my father a lot."
"That's funny," Ann said. "I was a tomboy too. I used to follow my dad around trying to do whatever he did."
"You did? And you're straight, right?"
"I thought only lesbians had my experience."
Ann left it at that for awhile. Then, a few weeks later, when Florence was sharing about her first sexual experience (a lesbian one) and describing how strange it all felt, Ann said, "That makes sense. Maybe it's like when I first went on a diet and had to drink Diet Coke. No one who first drinks that stuff likes it, but after awhile they get used to it, and then it doesn't bother them anymore. Maybe gay sex is like that. At first you don't like it, but if you keep doing it, you get used to it."
Florence didn't say anything for a moment. "Yeah, maybe you're right," she finally replied. These two conversations Ann had with Florence brought the lesbian a long way. Not yet all the way to Jesus Christ, but light years closer. If Ann had just shown "tolerance" and ignored the moral difference between her and Florence, nothing would have changed.
Coats says that the irony is how the virtue of tolerance has been stolen from us Christians. It's time for us to reclaim it. We serve a God who makes his sun shine on the evil and the good and sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Into an intolerant world Jesus introduced tolerance as something revolutionary. He was branded a drunkard and a glutton and the friend of tax-collectors and sinners. Our friends in academia act as if mulitculturalism were something recently invented. But Paul announced it as the way of the Christ: There is neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free, male and female (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).
No one has more experience in multiculturalism than the church, which for 2000 years has been taking the gospel to every nation and culture as it fulfills the Great Commission.
We Christians believe in tolerance. But our tolerance is not shallow like that of the academic community. In his speech Coats points out that tolerance has two extremes: permissiveness and persecution. Our non-Christian colleagues on campus stand on the permissiveness extreme--standing for nothing and falling for everything. They believe that Christians are at the other extreme, equating us with racists, ethnocentrists, and homophobes.
But we are not there. We hold Coats' middle ground: persuasion (2 Cor. 5:11, 14-21). It is not that we try to force people into conforming to our (really, the Lord's) standards. To the contrary, we have learned from our Master that outward conformity has little value if the heart is not in it. Rather, we try to change people's thinking, confident that with changed hearts, their actions will follow.
Copyright © 2005 Steve Singleton, all rights reserved.
Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles on subjects of interest to Bible students. He has taught Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses Bible college, university, and adult education programs. He has taught seminars and workshops in 11 states and the Caribbean.
Go to his DeeperStudy.org for Bible study resources, no matter what your level of expertise. Explore "The Shallows," plumb "The Depths," or use the well-organized "Study Links" for original sources in English translation. Sign up for Steve's free "DeeperStudy Newsletter."
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Baylor University Competing in National College/University Challenge to Increase Flu Vaccination Rates - Baylor University
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Students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to get a flu shot, then fill out short survey to be counted in Alana's Foundation challenge. Media Contact: Lori ...
Enrollment Continues To Decline At Oregon Colleges, Universities OPB News
Oregon's universities and community colleges have continued to shrink since the highs they reached during the Great Recession, going back a decade.
College Personality Quiz | Best Colleges U.S. News & World Report
Take our multi-step college personality quiz to get a sense of what you should consider when evaluating colleges & narrowing your decision. Take our free quiz ...
State looks to boost college-to-university pipeline Sun Sentinel
Last fall, more than one out of every four students enrolled at state universities came from the Florida college system. But data, presented last week to the Florida ...
UMaine men's hockey team erupts to beat Boston College Bangor Daily News
After being held to just two goals last weekend while dropping two games at home to Northeastern University, the University of Maine men's hockey team scored ...
Joliet Junior College, University of St. Francis to host open houses The Herald-News
'Tis the season for high school seniors to be applying for college.
30 adenovirus cases confirmed at University of Maryland; at least eight hospitalized - Baltimore Sun
30 adenovirus cases confirmed at University of Maryland; at least eight hospitalized Baltimore Sun
At least 30 cases of adenovirus had been confirmed at the University of Maryland, College Park as of Wednesday, according to the university. The virus, which ...
Online Paralegal Degree Preparing You For Employment
In an era when professional opportunities are diminishing, one area where opportunities are certainly expanding is in the field of paralegal work. Consequently, as the practice of law expands, and the need for professional paralegals grows, many argue that there has never been a better time to enter the field of paralegal work.
Online Education and Digital Divide
Digital Education is really coming along thanks to the US Military and their expenditures in the IT Framework to make training available. The IT companies doing this training are in fact able to pass on this technology to the private sector immediately and it is helping us with the digital divide.
College Freshman: How to Get Over Homesickness
Whether you're a freshman or a senior, studying abroad or going to college in your hometown - it's natural to have a period of adjustment when you leave home. Experiencing new things and meeting different people can be exciting and stressful at the same time.
Limperts Academy of Design Opens Interior Design Education / US and Canada
You may be bursting at the seams with natural talent, but if you want to become an Interior Designer in the US or Canada, you need to be licensed by the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualifications). In the past, many individuals may have had the talent but not the financial resources to follow their dream of becoming a designer, but now a window of opportunity has been opened wide by a European organisation called Limperts Academy of Design.
How Parents Can Help Allieviate The Stress of Getting Into College
Getting into college is a stressful experience for most high school students. However, there are steps that parents can take to help alleviate the stress and make the experience more positive.
Accredited Life Experience Degrees - Accelerate Your Progress Online
Chances are you are pursuing an online degree to reap benefits in the workplace. For this reason, you may be interested in accelerating your progress to get your degree faster.
Free Money For College
What if someone came up to you and offered you $5000 to attend college? Or after college, what if someone called you and asked if you wanted a couple thousand dollars to pay off some student loans? The obvious answer is, "Where do I sign up?" But, the truth is that there are hundreds of ways for you to receive free money for college today - you just need to know where to look.Search For "Free" Money FirstWith the emergence of the internet, finding places, companies, and events that offer free money for college has never been as easy.
Education - Let The Learning Begin!
You've probably heard it since you were little, 'get a good education and you'll go far in life.' Maybe you used to wonder how truthful your relatives were when they said those words to you.
Student Financial Guide is Your Guide to College Success
The Student Financial Guide website is divided into categories pertaining to pre college resources, during college experiences, post college challenges, investing, news, and even a forum where you can chat with other members looking for advice or just wanting to chat.Preparing for college is very important and that's why the Student Financial Guide covers topics on budgeting and planning for your college years.
The program should be one term, two terms or three terms (1 year). This program is meant for students who lack the necessary language skills to start the first-year bachelor program, the course enables them to improve their skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Creating the Acceptable College Applicant
America's colleges and universities no longer have enough room to accommodate all the qualified students who apply. As a result, schools are forced to reject far more applicants than they accept.
Principalship: Leading Change in Schools
Is Pursuing A Degree Online Really For You? Who Should And Who Should Not?
Stanford University's Online Lessons Learned Stanford University's Center for Professional Development has recently completed a survey of those that have been successful in completing online degree programs globally. The results of their research provide useful guidance for anyone considering an online program.
College Roommates: Threes A Crowd
It's hard enough sharing a dorm room the size of a postage stamp with one person, but what happens when your roommate consistently invites friends and dates to hang out too? Even if you all get along, it can get old fast. Sometimes you just want a little privacy.
Get Your College Degree Online
Have you long wanted or needed to increase your level of education with a college degree? Perhaps, you have desired a degree for your own personal satisfaction or because you have found it difficult to advance in your work field without one.One of the best blessings to come from the Internet is the ability to now obtain a college education online.
Parents: Take the SAT Challenge!
I keep a box of tissues on the table where I tutor because, as an SAT tutor and college application consultant, I listen to high school juniors and seniors who are so overwhelmed by college pressure that they begin to cry. Not just girls.
Student Moans and the Quarterlife Crisis
It's that time of year again when global issues take second place in the British media, to make space for the great 'A' level debate. Packed with case studies of "Laura achieved nine A grades and was still rejected from her first choice", you have to wonder how long students can maintain the will to study.
The College-Bound Students Early Bird Menu
Many parents and students I counsel confuse Early Admission, Early Read, Early Decision, Early Action and Early Notification. How these and the other admission strategies listed below are used, will determine the course of the student's college years.
Facing Your Fears as an Adult Returning to School
In case you hadn't noticed, career colleges aren't just for learning a vocational trade anymore. Nowadays, career colleges can help you obtain a Bachelor's, Master's, or even Doctorate Degree in just about any field of study, or they can even help you simply brush up on skills you might already have on your way to earning a certification or Associate's Degree.
Academic Research on the Internet : There Is a Better Way
Students nowadays start their research projects by looking up information on the web. And they are very right to do so, as there are libraries of useful information available.
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