Choosing a Christian College

Gordon Conwell Seminary, Hamilton, Massachusetts

You’ve probably heard the statistics, that 50% of Christians abandon their faith during college. It would seem that many Christian students are not prepared to enter the liberal environment of a secular college classroom, where more than half of all professors view Christians with hostility and take every opportunity to belittle them. One study showed that private colleges with a religious history – but have cast aside those roots – were most detrimental to students maintaining their Christian faith; up to two-thirds of Christian students give up their relationship with God at these institutions. Sadly, even many so-called “Christian” colleges are entering into apostasy (turning away from Christ). Just because a school calls itself a Christian college does not always mean that the teaching provided is Biblical. Some Christian colleges integrate worldly ideas and unbiblical teachings into their classes. If you want to attend a Christian college, do you know which schools will provide the best Bible-centered education? Do you know which ones truly support biblical authority versus simply giving it lip-service?

The Barna Group has defined those as having a biblical worldview if they believe: 1) that absolute moral truth exists; 2) that the Bible is completely inerrant; 3) that Satan is a real being, not symbolic; 4) that a person cannot earn their way into the kingdom of God though good works; 5) that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and 6) that God is the supreme Creator of the heavens and the earth and reigns over the whole universe today. There are many different variations of doctrinal positions (Reformed, Calvinistic, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Nazarene, Quaker, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Independent Baptist, Southern Baptist, Anabaptist, Mennonite, Seventh-Day Adventist, Non-denominational, Roman Catholic, etc.), so you should also research the theological beliefs of any Christian college you are considering. But it is no longer sufficient to seek reassurances that they are “Christ-centered” or “Biblically-based” or even “creationist.” These words can have different meanings to different people, even within the same institution.

Many Christian colleges have statements of faith – which in some cases must be followed by all students and faculty members – that endorse the literal truth of the Bible or of specific parts of the Bible (six days of creation, a global flood and a young earth, no death before sin). Liberty University’s statement explicitly rejects evolution: “We affirm that all things were created by God. Angels were created as ministering agents, though some, under the leadership of Satan, fell from their sinless state to become agents of evil. The universe was created in six historical days and is continuously sustained by God; thus it both reflects His glory and reveals His truth. Human beings were directly created, not evolved, in the very image of God.” Some schools do not take a definitive stand on this issue but permit the teaching of evolution as one theory among many. Nevertheless, there seems to be a growing trend among Christian colleges to abandon creation science in favor of theistic evolution, the idea that God used Darwinian evolution as a tool to guide the development of species over billions of years. Wheaton College recently invited a guest speaker to lecture on the topic, and Calvin College also presents biology and geology from that point of view.

Even though a school as a whole may have a Biblical statement of faith, individual instructors can vary in their personal views and curricula. An administrator may identify a school as creationist, and yet employ vocal faculty members with negative attitudes toward creationism. Gordon College has a statement of faith which reads: “careful translation, such as the New International Version, is sufficiently close to the original writings in text and meaning to be entitled to acceptance as the Word of God,” and yet Gordon’s “Philosophy of Education” statement outlines a strong commitment to academic freedom in which “each person in the College community may exercise the right of free judgment.” But as noted American evangelical theologian Dr. John MacArthur says in his book The Battle for the Beginning, “Scripture, not science, is the ultimate test of all truth. The further evangelicalism gets from that conviction, the less evangelical and more humanistic it becomes.”

Most notably, the book of Genesis is often taught in a compromise fashion in Christian colleges. According to an Answers in Genesis article, “If you are a Christian parent looking to send your son or daughter to a Christian college and are reading a catalog from a prospective institution, it is unlikely you will see a summary of its science curricula that will include the word evolution. The most prominent Christian colleges today either teach evolution as fact or have professors who present the handmaid of evolution – millions and billions of years of history. Those teachings in the classroom are intentionally not shared openly by most Christian colleges, for fear of turning off prospective parents or students with the use of the “e word.” Furthermore, when some of these colleges are asked if they believe in creation, the staff will answer in the affirmative and say they believe in a Creator, all the while hiding the fact that theistic evolution reigns in their classrooms.” (Looy, Mark. The Repackaging of Darwin – Avoiding the Dreaded “E Word”? February 7, 2012.)

Dr. John Mark Reynolds of Biola University (a leading institutional hub for the Intelligent Design movement) suggests that parents check out a school by inquiring whether the entire faculty believes in a literal Adam and Eve, by studying the course descriptions carefully, by examining the student newspaper for discussions on evolution, and by using an Internet search engine to find and study any papers that school professors have written about origins. It’s important to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves …A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit… Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:15-19) Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

It’s not uncommon for colleges – even Christian colleges – to invite atheists or those with extreme political views to campus, presumably under the guise of being “fair and balanced.” Last year, Messiah College captured headlines for inviting controversial leftist professor Frances Fox Piven to speak at the Christian higher education facility. The dean of psychology opened by saying, “Messiah College is a Christian college…with an expansive evangelicalism. I remain convinced that the words represent what we stand for.” He continued, “We treat different ideas without fear. Messiah College must embody a spirit of hospitality.” And so they welcomed Piven, an outspoken member of the Democratic Socialists of America, who once denounced the Bush administration for “letting faith-based groups take over welfare, preaching God and markets solve everything,” and who called the Tea Party racist but praised the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Frances Fox Piven had never been to a Christian college before she gave her lecture at Messiah College. “I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be something like Bob Jones University I wondered,” she said to the audience.

This year, the chairman of the history department at Messiah College has been in the news. Professor John Fea, who is supposed to be educated and certainly learned in Bible study, made a bold claim that President Obama “may be the most explicitly Christian president in American history.” What? Let’s look at the facts. There are many questionable or blatantly un-Christian issues with Obama’s agenda. He believes in “collective salvation” and forcible redistribution of wealth. He is in favor of abortion, and his administration issued a mandate that forces religious institutions to provide birth control to its employees. He also turned his back on Israel, the apple of God’s eye. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus Christ. Are these things that Jesus would have said or done? Obama can say he’s a Christian all day long and even use biblical references to argue his point, but that doesn’t make it so. Remember Matthew 7: “by their fruits you will know them.” Professor Fea is not only deceived but a deceiver himself.

While Homeschooling Teen reviews colleges and universities that are homeschool-friendly, this does not mean that we necessarily endorse all of their programs and teachings. We highly recommend that anyone contemplating a college do their homework, checking out the school and faculty for yourself before making a major decision as to your college education. Be selective and choose a college carefully to be sure it aligns with your worldview and theological beliefs. For more information on this topic, please see the following: – Colleges & Universities That Believe or Teach Biblical Creation Philosophy – Universities, colleges, and seminaries that teach a literal Genesis, including six-day, young-earth Creation – Creationist Colleges – Which Christian Colleges are Best? – The Christian College Dynamic – Choosing a Christian College – Creation in Christian Colleges – Evangelical Colleges Paid to Teach Evolution

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