Do students go to Christian colleges to find shelter from the violent intellectual storms that have battered the Christian faith in the past 200 years? Some do. On the other hand, do not the pervading secularism and implicit naturalism in most state and private colleges and universities seriously threaten the Christian student’s faith today? Can we have the best of both worlds?
We need models that preserve the strengths of the Christian college and at the same time make use of the advantages of the large secular university. In the hope that this approach could be developed, John W. Snyder asked in this journal in 1967: “Why Not a Christian College on a University Campus?” (February 17, 1967, issue). Today Christian cluster colleges at secular universities are a reality. Advocates of the Christian cluster college assert that this new model preserves the strengths and avoids the weaknesses of both the traditional Christian college and the secular university. What are these strengths and weaknesses?
The Secular University: Pro And Con
Many Christian students are attracted by the secular universities’ excellent facilities, huge libraries, extensive academic and cultural offerings, inexpensive tuition (state universities), or academic prestige (Ivy League). Regrettably, despite the best efforts of Inter-Varsity, Campus Crusade, and other Christian campus ministries, many of these same students are no longer committed to historic Christian faith at graduation.
Although the days of militant atheism and aggressive agnosticism are largely past, secular universities still tend to foster non-Christian views and life-styles in their classes and dorms. The “practical atheism” that falsely suggests one can be neutral about the ultimate questions ...1