"A lot of evangelical leaders are genuinely unhappy about the state of American higher education and can't resist trying to do something about it as part of their legacy," he said, referring to Regent University founder Pat Robertson and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell. "King's was a way for Bill Bright to have a crack at that again."
Catholics in evangelical higher education
In 2006, Wheaton generated a discussion about Catholics in evangelical institutions when its administrators did not renew the contract of philosophy professor Joshua Hochschild after he converted to Catholicism.
Duane Litfin, who was president of Wheaton when Hochschild left the college, concluded that Catholics could not sign Wheaton's statement of faith because of its emphasis on Scripture as the "supreme and final" authority.
Stanley Oakes, then serving as president of The King's College, wrote a column for National Review suggesting that Hochschild would, "despite losing his job over it, stand behind Wheaton for courageously affirming its commitment to its own founding principles." (Oakes is on sabbatical and was unavailable for comment, according to a King's spokesperson.)
The president of The Kings College must agree to a statement of faith that similarly calls Scripture "the sole basis of our beliefs" and "the supreme and final authority in all matters on which it speaks."
"This is an evangelical position. It is not a position, for example, espousing papal supremacy," Olasky said. "Dinesh has grown in faith over the past decade, and I hope and pray that that will continue."
The King's College statement of faith similarly emphasizes the Protestant (even Reformed) understanding of salvation, righteousness, and justification.
"The salvation of man is wholly a work of God's free grace and is not the work, in whole or in part, of human works or goodness or religious ceremony," it states. "God imputes His righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, and thereby justified them in His sight."
Catholic theology, by contrast, describes God's righteousness as being infused in believers rather than imputed.
But the King's College doctrinal statement also puts emphasis on free interpretation: "We accept those areas of doctrinal teaching on which, historically, there has been general agreement among all true Christians. Because of the specialized calling of our movement, we desire to allow for freedom of conviction on other doctrinal matters, provided that any interpretation is based upon the Bible alone, and that no such interpretation shall become an issue which hinders the ministry to which God has called us."
The mission statement doesn't distinguish between Catholics and Protestants, D'Souza said.
"If someone says, I'm Catholic and as a result I will not agree that the Bible is the sole source of religious truth, then we can't hire them because they don't agree with our mission statement," he said. "If someone happens to be Catholic and agrees with the statement 100 percent, we would not remove that person from consideration."
Gene Edward Veith, provost at Patrick Henry College near Washington, D.C., said that he is intrigued by the "experiment" that a Christian college could appeal to conservative evangelicals and conservative Roman Catholics, but he thinks it will be difficult to pull off.