Just as Harvey Cox celebrates the freedom and discipline of the secular city, so I celebrate that of the secular university. If I, like Cox, seem over-optimistic, it is not that I do not see the dangers. Bishop Lesslie New-bigin in Honest Religion for Secular Man strikes the right balance when he points out the inevitability of secularization as well as the ambiguities in the notion of a secular society. He writes: “The more one explores the idea of a secular society, the more clear does it become that such a society could be maintained only by the participation of men and women in whom commitment to Christ is a living, personal, religious reality.” In such a context secularization need not be anti-Christian, and the Christian need not fear it. It may even be beneficial to Christianity and to the dissemination of Christian thought. A secular society may well give the Christian a better opportunity to serve God and share the Gospel than a religious, even a Christian, society. On the secular campus Christian students can learn to serve God today and prepare to be leaders in tomorrow’s secular society.
The secular campus provides every sort of opportunity for discussing the basic questions about life, and one hopes that Christian answers are offered along with others. With the anti-Viet Nam students I know—and with love-hippies, too, I imagine—one can have a field day in discussion. If one listens a lot, one begins to understand their concern and then will in turn be listened to. As the various standard objections to Christian faith are trotted out, one has a splendid teaching opportunity. While helping recently in a student mission I ran into objections having to do with the problem of evil, the character of God, sin, love, ...1
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