It would be wise for would-be Christian colleges everywhere to examine themselves whether they be in the Spirit of God or driven on by some unholy spirit.
There is one unholy spirit which has captivated higher Christian education again and again, beginning with the Christian university of Alexandria in the second century A.D.: the appealing, respectable, vitiating spirit of Christian accommodation to the traditions of men. I am not talking abstractions. This spiritual force caught me at college, and maybe it will catch you. It is the driving concern to combine Christianity with the best that has been said and thought in the world, the moving attempt to fuse into one grand product the Christian faith and centuries of general human culture. And this catholic, synthesizing spirit has a devastating influence upon a Christian education. How so?
This tempting, synthesizing perspective tacitly assumes that broad areas of human achievement are a religious no-man’s-land and thus can be safely tucked under an inviolate compartment of Christian truths which have the last word on supernatural questions. Synthesis presupposes a compartmentalization of reality, and therefore in education works with the idea of certain naturalized, neutralized fields of learning, having kicked Christian faith in God upstairs to an honorable presidency; and it is precisely this built-in split, the kind of separation behind the combination, that deranges an education committed to having all knowledge integrated in Christ. No matter whether you patronizingly “make room for faith,” as Kant said, or give God, theology, and ethics a solidly papal, authoritarian position above subordinated “natural” arts and sciences, the profaning damage is done to education: ...1
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