After fifteen years of teaching in a theological seminary—mostly in what the catalogue was pleased to call a systematic theology—I went back to teaching in a college again. I must say that I suffered some shock.

One can assume, for the sake of argument, that all the men who sit in one’s classroom in a theological seminary are at least in favor of the Christian faith, and that most of them are highly committed to it. The difficulties a teacher faces lie primarily in explaining or supporting what is already a given in the theological tradition of the Christian Church. One gives attention to history and doctrine and makes some effort to set up and support a way of looking at the Christian faith. Next comes the business of how this Christian faith is to make contact with the various philosophies and religions of the world and how its relevance may be shown in such areas as social action. One must also give much time to the workings of the church and must, of course, establish reasons why the particular denomination of the seminary has good reasons for continued existence.

In the college milieu, however, there is a whole different set of problems, a whole different set of assumptions and pre-suppositions. One must learn at the outset that the class before him is representative of our pluralistic society, and that while students in the seminary are generally in favor of the Christian faith, college students who are not headed for the seminary may be completely ignorant of that faith. They may even be opposed to it, for a lot of reasons that they consider rational but that may actually be quite irrational. The college battleground is really in Christian apologetics rather than in Christian understanding and application. ...

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