Will the Christian liberal arts college survive? This question, popular with secular experts, causes Christian educators great concern. Its basis is found in the fact that the crisis in American higher education has been reduced to the common denominator of shortages in faculties, funds, and facilities. When these resources are accepted as the criteria for survival and status in American higher education, many small, evangelical Christian liberal arts colleges are expected to test out the high cost of dying in the academic world.
But have we been asking the right question? Without glossing over the need for teachers, money, and space in all our institutions, perhaps it is time to suggest that the fundamental problem facing the evangelical Christian college is not existence but obsolescence. “Are we in a race for survival when we should be in a race for relevance?”
Lewis Mayhew, a man who is known for asking the right questions, presents this problem in his book The Smaller Liberal Arts College when he states that the Christian college is “in conflict with some of the major values held by contemporary American society” (p. 11). These conflicts, he says, are between the values of the Christian religion and American secularism, between a liberal arts education and the vocational orientation in American life, and between the small, independent college and the trend to large, centralized organizations in American institutional structure. Within the framework of these basic value conflicts, Mayhew identifies the small, Christian liberal arts college as a minority institution in higher education that is out of step with the prevailing social values of our time. Although he does not specifically make the statement, both the import ...1
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