Monday, November 02, 2009


I Don't Get It

Justin Taylor recently posted on "Christian" universities. He quoted D.A. Carson on eight theses and 4 priorities for a "Christian" university:
  1. A university is a tertiary-level institution devoted to study and education in a plurality of fields at both undergraduate and graduate levels, controlled by some unifying Vision.
  2. A Christian university is God-centered in the structure of its thinking and in the establishment of its priorities, cheerfully pledging allegiance to the Christian revelation, and in particular the focal point of that revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the gospel he has proclaimed.
  3. A Christian university is passionately committed to the formation and maintenance of a Christian worldview.
  4. Because Christians recognize their finiteness and their sinful minds, the Christian university is called, whatever its prophetic voice, to humility of mind and the kind of communal care that fosters integrity and candor.
  5. Because of its God-centeredness, the Christian university will recognize that it is beholden to the church, to the world, and to the God who inhabits eternity.
  6. Because of its God-centeredness, the Christian university seeks to maintain a tension between a world-wide openness on the one hand, and cultural integrity and sensitivity at the local level on the other.
  7. Within the vision of the Christian university already laid out, it is entirely appropriate to provide both liberal arts education and professional training.
  8. A Christian university will rigorously reflect on academic freedom and confessional Fidelity.
  1. Teach the Bible.
  2. Teach the Bible worldviewishly.
  3. Pursue excellence.
  4. Reflect hard and often on how to preserve the institution.
I have to confess to not quite "getting it." I read through that and what I see is simply a university filled with Christians. Not that such is a bad thing mind you, but I could see Harvard, or any other university become just like that by simply making sure all the students were Christians. It raises a very important question - why establish a "Christian" institution when we could simply evangelize an existing institution into what we are looking for? Is the need for "Christian" university based on the fact that we are not doing well at evangelism?

Moreover, many Christian university are justified by the need to educate Christian young people in a place where their faith will not be too strongly challenged and therefore lost. Is that not an admission that churches and families have not sufficiently deepened the faith of their young people? Seems to me that if we were really raising strong Christian kids they would be changing the university more than the university would be changing them.

There are two points I am trying to make here. First of all, I don't think we need are doing our job very well when it comes to evangelism and building Christian maturity. We keep looking for ways to hide in the world rather than to boldly step out with the power of the Holy Spirit and change it. Secondly, if we are going to build an institution in the name of Christ it need to be radically different - a genuine beacon on a hill. If it really bears Christ's image, I would think it would draw people like moths to flame.

Our mission is to bring sanctification to the world, not build places for the sanctified to live in.

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