“A young person will lose his or her faith, perhaps for only a few years but probably forever. Of all the many things that will happen to a young person in college, that loss of faith is the very MOST PREDICTABLE.”
This strong, definitive statement was a conclusion reached in a post-doctoral class I took at the University of Oklahoma in which we studied the doctoral studies that had been made about what happened to students who had attended college; this type of professional educational studies had begun to be made in the 1930’s. (My own dissertation was an exception to the findings of most researchers, but I had studied Bible college students; whereas, other such studies considered students in public colleges or private liberal arts colleges.)
Why is that opening statement made and believed by serious, honest scholars? It is true simply because, overwhelmingly, the professors have a quite different world and life view than do the parents and the young Christians. Through their positions of power and with the textbooks (if it is in print, it must be right, the enemy of our soul whispers-and the professors seem to agree) espousing the same secular, humanistic (and atheistic) world and life view, the young Christian student is extremely vulnerable. The professors and those textbooks batter the student, class after class. Then the temptations of the party life outside the classroom are often forced upon the spiritually weakened young person in numerous, subtle ways.
Not every college class is equally dangerous (for example, an algebra or a physics or a strictly grammar based language class may not be dangerous), but many classes in the social sciences, natural sciences, or humanities have great faith-destroying power! My wife, going back to college as a mother and with a registered nursing background, enrolled in a literature class at the University of
Houston. After the first class she said, “Please tell me I can withdraw!” Comments made in that one class period troubled her somewhat for years, and she is always anxious as she thinks of students ages 18 to 20 being in such classes. As she completed a doctorate in science in a large Texas university,
she continued to see young students struggle in those dangerous academic seas.
Later as we taught for a few years at both the graduate and under-graduate levels in what we considered to be the “most Christian of the public colleges and universities in Oklahoma,” we often felt despair as we saw young students leave their churches and fall by the way, in spite of the faithful efforts of the Baptist Student Union, other Christian groups on campus, their Christian friends, and the few Christian professors.
Even in many Christian colleges, students must be vigilant. When my wife researched the teaching of science in the accredited Bible colleges for her doctoral work, she found most of the science teachers believed Genesis 1-12 was both scientifically and historically true. However, most of these science teachers said the professors of Bible/theology in their college taught some form of evolution (with various other names for it, of course). Parents should send their children away from home with the warning that being an adult is to be always vigilant.
What can we parents and grandparents do in a society that seems to be started down, or perhaps is quite far down, “the slippery slope”? We must seek to ground our young people in the spirit of Deuteronomy 6, we must be wise in helping them select a college, and we must pray for them (whatever their choice) in the spirit of a wrestling Jacob!
Why should the Christian attend a truly Christian college? – Since all truth is God’s truth, the Christian student will both protect his or her own soul and also learn a better level of truth in all academic areas because of the professors’ Christian world and life view.
The preceding article was written by Robert Bland, ED.D. He has taught and led the English Department at Randall since 1992 and has extensive experience with both secular and Christian colleges and universities. He can be contacted at 405.912.9473 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The entire Fall 2008 INSIGHT can be seen under the Alumni heading of the website home page.