Needed: A Strategy for Academia

Special witness on the secular campus.
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“As far as I can tell,” writes a history professor at a large Midwestern university, “the evangelical Christian groups are hardly making a ripple on campus. They work independently of one another, even in competition with each other. There is no book table, and no jointly sponsored campus-wide activities. Nor is there any attempt to write on current issues in the school newspaper or to be involved in student volunteer services such as tutoring and visiting old peoples’ homes, although hundreds of humanists are involved. The Christians are typically holding each other’s hands in prayer meetings and Bible studies, and ‘discipling.’ But I see no vision for a united Christian outreach to the campus community that is socially relevant and intellectually respectable in terms of a Christian apologetic.”

This indictment raises at least two major questions that should be seriously heeded by every evangelical believer: Is this an isolated instance or is it typical of the Christian life and witness on campus? And second, should we expect Christian students to do the things this professor mentions? After all, young people go to college primarily to learn, to invest time and energy in a course of study that will enable them to work effectively in the world in subsequent years. Should evangelistic outreach be a significant part of their life structure during this preparatory period?

A reply to the first question is not easily drafted. The picture is mixed. Here and there, campus outreach appears to be vigorous and fruitful, and there is some evidence of coordination. When Korean prophet Sun Myung Moon visited Berkeley, for example, seven evangelical campus groups acting in concert as the Christian Student Coalition of the University of ...

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