If you’ve read this SubStack for any length of time, you know that I’m working on a book about Christian Higher Education. It’s tentatively titled “The Fearless Christian University” and aims to paint a picture of what the Christian University might look like if it could avoid its fear of evangelical gatekeepers and the broader culture.
So this seemed like a good time for a post where I can attempt to answer your questions or respond to your insights on the development of Christian Universities, their current status, or what the future might hold.
So pose your questions and I’ll try my best to answer over the course of a day.
Indoctrination seems to be a weapon of choice, often contrasted to true education. Is this a discussion Christian higher ed should engage or in a sense has this tension always existed?
It seems difficult to have this conversation without tackling the concept that many Christian Universities seem obsessed with the idea of their right to discriminate based on their religion. They also use scholarship that is insular and only from certain points of view. Which seems to be at odds with the supposed aims of higher education! As an undiagnosed autistic person who went to a Christian University, I truly believed my professors when they said they were presenting me with the best possible research on the Bible and Theology. Later, I realized they only drew from a very select pool of "approved" authors and scholars and demeaned or ignored anyone who didn't match up to their worldview. If you are going to be a discriminatory place of selective scholarship, then yeah--your numbers might dwindle. And I say good riddance!
The institution I work at has language in the faculty handbook that expects faculty to have a vibrant faith marked by growth. However the models of faith growth are implied to be single-track linear growth. I've found that my spiritual growth and that of many is my colleagues is anything but linear. Can a faith-based institution make space for a non-linear model (even making space for lapses of faith) and maintain their mission?
Hi John. I work at a Christian college where many see our main mission as basically the Great Commission. What is the best way to advocate for more academic rigor without denigrating that evangelical position?
What's up Doc?
I regret the trend in a bunch of Christian schools choosing new presidents who are Politicians or Business 'heads.' Many have shown no personal appreciation for a Post-B degree....not to mention a terminal degree. These presidents have no appreciation for long pounded-out Values, Mission and wholistic student development. "Are we in the Red, or are we in the Black" is the only concern (maybe rightfully so, I guess)?
AND akin to this same trend is these new presidents seem to be yanking our Christian schools to the 'right' politically and religiously (notice I didn't say Spiritually?) to cater to the new secular politics, that has also bled into our churches. I am left scratching my head because for some schools this trend seems to be reaping increased inquiries, increased student #'s/tuition and increased donors and bigger gifts!
Pls tell me my anecdotal observations are not well founded. But at $50- $60 & $65K tuition, I don't think I'm wrong!
Do parents of Christian college students exercise more influence over college administrations than do students? Is parental "overprotection" a concern or has culture/young people changed such that it is more appropriate than it used to be? (I.e., how "safe" should Christian colleges be when it comes to ideas?)
Are there simply too many Christian universities in the U. S. right now?
What are your thoughts about the rise of Christian Study Centers? Do you think they are an avenue to escape the gatekeepers and embrace the fearless posture you're articulating here?
Thinking about this in response to Chris Gehrz interview with Rick Ostrander https://chrisgehrz.substack.com/p/whats-a-christian-study-center?fbclid=IwAR1gc7UB4LLMkljp2aAcKHd7VLiqlzZwnLuhRkvC-II6iWB5DREUP-7PbtA