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Christian Colleges' Urgent Mission

Christian education is not secular education plus chapel.
1994This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

American Christians may not be the only people in the world to have Christian colleges, but there is simply nowhere else where evangelicals have their own significant slice of higher education. No other country can boast an equivalent to the 88-member Christian College Coalition, but such prodigious resources also include tremendous challenges. Can the Christian college hold on to its uniqueness, and if so, at what cost?

Unlike England and parts of Europe, the secularization of public universities in America has gone faster, sheltered behind the "wall of separation" between church and state. Even Christians have started to believe the myth that only secularism is fair—that in a multi-ethnic, multicultural society such as ours, matters of faith and belief must be kept private. Two of the dangers here are, first, in thinking that religiously indifferent secularism is a virtue and, second, in allowing our Christian colleges to become smaller versions of their public counterparts.

Such issues are more global than one might think, since the dominance of American-led Western culture continues to spread around the world. Whatever happens here is going to happen in other countries; therefore, the crisis of collapsing culture is not simply ours. Preserving the distinctives of Christian higher education is less about a North American heritage than about global evangelism.

We should be concerned that Christian college presidents, who used to be pastors, are now so often like businessmen—not because businessmen make bad presidents, but because pastors are such a visible symbol of the connection between church and school. If we obscure this symbol at one level, it must be made clearer at another. For similar reasons, we ought to ...

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