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« The Goal of Education | Main | Dangerous Assumptions for Disciples: »

The Methodology of Education

(This is the next segment of the chapter on Your Educational Relationship: Jesus as Mentor), in the book, Hand in Hand: Deepening Your Relationship with Jesus Christ.)

Renunciation of Faith 

While we may fault the content of higher education, the methods used cause believers equal concern.  It reminds one of thievery versus vandalism.  A thief may take your possessions, but leaves everything else alone.  Vandals have no interest in enriching themselves; their purpose is to destroy and cause disruption.  Some college professors seem more intent on destroying the faith of naïve young people rather than adding value to them.  Whether the methodology is by design or default, vast numbers of Christian college students cannot succeed academically unless they offer up their faith on the altars of secular religion.  (David Barton, 

Those who deny this intent say that no such demands are ever made or that no professors make overt suggestions for students to renounce their faith.  Of course, the secular faculty is far too clever to open itself up to such a charge.  But, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then …!  This is related to a phenomenon known as the Pygmalion Effect, or the Rosenthal Effect in which student performance is directly proportional to their professor’s expectations.  If the tone of lectures, the preponderance of reading and writing assignments and the resources used to conduct the course all promote a slanted view of Christianity, then the conclusions reached by students are statistically predictable. The active social media too often spills the beans about what happens in the classrooms. 

Discrimination in Grading 

Obviously, believers cannot agree with the anti-God and anti-Bible attacks they hear in the classrooms.  Those lectures can be dismissed immediately.  The greater problem, however, concerns test scores, written assignments and oral participation which raises the conflict to a combustion point, and also reflects on the grade.  Christian students have been known to turn in academically credible work but still given low grades because they didn’t agree with the professor.  

Timothy Larsen, McManus Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College, writes the following piece.  “John had been a straight-A student until he enrolled in English writing. The assignment was an ‘opinion’ piece and the required theme was ‘traditional marriage.’ John is a Southern Baptist and he felt it was his duty to give his honest opinion and explain how it was grounded in his faith. The professor was annoyed that John claimed the support of the Bible for his views, scribbling in the margin, ‘Which Bible would that be?’ On the very same page, John’s phrase, ‘Christians who read the Bible,’ provoked the same retort, ‘Would that be the Aramaic Bible, the Greek Bible, or the Hebrew Bible?’ (What could the point of this be? Did the professor want John to imagine that while the Greek text might support his view of traditional marriage, the Aramaic version did not?) The paper was rejected as a ‘sermon,’ and given an F, with the words, ‘I reject your dogmatism,’ written at the bottom by way of explanation.” ( 

Hostile Environment 

Professors may assign homework calculated to attack or undermine faith, show videos during class time that promote anti-Christian sentiments, conduct experiments or field trips designed to “offer an alternative viewpoint,” or otherwise manipulate the educational experience with an atheistic bias.  Students should not be surprised at hearing the following statements:

  • The Bible is a myth.
  • Paul’s letters contradict Jesus’ message of love.
  • The male gender is responsible for the world’s problems.
  • Current translations of the Bible are not accurate.
  • There are no absolute truths.
  • The Bible is full of inaccuracies and/or inconsistencies.
  • Tolerance means accepting all lifestyles as valid.
  • Human beings were not created by God.
  • Christians are responsible for the earth’’s pollution.
  • If you disagree with homosexuality, you are hateful.
  • Christians are bigots.
  • All religions say the same thing.

(Doug Britton,

Surviving the Storm 

A rather homely, but accurate, aphorism advises one to “eat the chicken, but throw away the bones.”  Believers can get a good education in today’s colleges and universities if they know how to negotiate their way around the hazards.  There are plenty of professionals in nearly every field who have endured the tribulations of required degree programs while keeping their faith intact.  

Dr. Bill Brown, President of Cedarville University breaks down a believer’s approach to higher education:

1.  Accept the fact that your faith will be tested and prepare for it.

2.  Take time to understand what you believe.

3.  Take responsibility for your faith.  Find accountability partners.

4.  Make a preemptive strike.  Determine the outcome before going. 

Going to college is much like taking a wilderness hike.  You don’t head out into the forest on a whim.  Know where you’re going, know your enemies and obstacles, pack everything you need to survive, and makes sure a friend knows where you are at all times.  You can survive college, but it won’t be by accident.  

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