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Thoughts for the Thinking Student
  • Introduction
  • Develop a Christian World View

Mind Games
Survival Course Manual

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Thoughts for the Thinking Student

Jerry Solomon

  1. Introduction

    In Colossians 2:8 Paul states that a Christian should ...

    See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (NASB).

    Paul wrote this appeal because the church in Colossae was living in an intellectual atmosphere that was antithetical to Christianity. Even though the direct reasons for concern may have changed since the time of the early church, this verse has particular application for the Christian student who is about to engage in the intellectual and social combat that can be found on many of our college and university campuses. Our higher educational institutions are often incubators for non-Christian thought and life. Christian students must be advised to be prepared. Too many of them are "taken captive." The following examples and statistics bring this to our attention.

    • A sociology professor asked her students, "How many of you believe abortion is wrong? Stand up." Five students stood. She told them to continue standing. She then asked, "Of you five, how many believe it is wrong to distribute condoms in middle schools?" One was left standing. The professor left this godly young lady standing in silence for a long time and then told her she wanted to talk with her after class. During that meeting the student was told if she persisted in such beliefs she would have a great deal of difficulty receiving her certification as a social worker.

    • While speaking at the University of Miami a Probe staff member discovered the courtyard below the room in which he was speaking was filled with students who had assembled to celebrate a national gay and lesbian "coming-out week."

    • At the University of Florida a student named Paul complained about an instructor's assistant who "presented a monologue he wrote about how good it feels to have an orgasm while being gang-raped by other males." Paul "was told that the department was not sure the instructor should be removed." Instead, it was suggested that Paul find a new section to avoid the assistant's influence.{1}

    • During the first meeting of an architecture class at a large state university the students were told to lie on the floor. The professor then turned off the lights and taught them to meditate. (Be assured they were not meditating on Scripture.)

    • At a church-related university a professor stated that "communism is infinitely superior to any other political-economic system."

    • At yet another church-related university a Christian student was surprised to learn one requirement in an art class was to practice yoga.

    • In an open declaration on the campus at Harvard the university chaplain announced he is homosexual.

    • A few years ago as part of the resident assistant training at Cornell University the students "were forced to watch pornographic movies of hard core gay and lesbian sex."{2}

    • "At St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, students who believe that homosexuality is an unhealthy behavior are actually discouraged from applying to the social work program."{3}

    • When asked how he responds to students who confess strong Christian convictions, a professor stated, "If they don't know what and why they believe, I will change them."

    • On several occasions Probe staff members have participated in an open forum in dormitory lobbies and other settings on university campuses. One of those occasions included insights that are critical for young Christian students to understand. For more than two hours we attempted to answer questions concerning Christianity. Approximately a hundred students had gathered for the occasion. Their questions led us in many directions. We discussed social, political, apologetic, and many other issues. But the subject that disturbed them most was salvation through Jesus Christ. When it was declared that Jesus was the only way to God, many of the students expressed their strong disagreement and even anger. One student was indignant because he realized the statement concerning Christ logically meant that his belief in an American Indian deity was wrong. Even some Christian students were uncomfortable with the assertion. They had an uneasiness about it because it seemed to be too intolerant. Thus we had to remind them Christ himself said He is the only way to God. We were not simply making a claim about Christ; we were telling them what He said about Himself.

    • In his work, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief, George Marsden has written: "One way to describe the current state of affairs ... is that, in effect, the only points of view that are allowed full academic credence are those that presuppose purely naturalistic worldviews."4 Marsden continues: "Persons from a wide variety of races and cultures are welcomed into the university, but only on the condition that they think more-or-less alike." {5} Of course the Christian world view usually is not welcome in such a setting.

    • Martin Anderson, a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writes: "During the last thirty years or so the concentration of left-wing intellectuals on the faculties of our colleges and universities has increased steadily, inexorably, to the point where they now constitute a virtual monopoly in many departments of our elite colleges and universities."{6}

    • George Keller, chair of the graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania, has described many college professors in the following manner.

      Most scholars have lost interest in the fundamental questions about character, people's deepest beliefs, moral sense and values. They have become procedural and instrumental and many believe that they are value-free. They carry around all sorts of "faiths" -- in the basic goodness of human nature, in humankind's ability to master all of Nature's processes and secrets, that more knowledge will result in a more harmonious society, that people can be made better by restructuring institutions or by smaller or larger government -- without acknowledging the existence of these deep faiths.{7}

      These are but a few of many illustrations and statistics that could be cited as indications of contemporary college life. The ideas that are espoused on many of our campuses can bewilder the Christian student. What can be done to help them in their preparation? This outline contains suggestions that can serve to give them guidance.

  1. Develop a Christian world view

    The first suggestion is to help them develop a Christian world view. (Please see the first outline in this notebook.)

    Before we continue this discussion it is important to understand the way in which too many students approach the college experience. This can be understood by realizing the contrast between our stress on developing a Christian world view and the predominate consensus. For many years The University of California at Los Angeles has conducted surveys of freshmen students throughout the country. The conductors of this ongoing project have found a dramatic shift in goals among first year students. "'To be very well off financially' and 'to develop a meaningful philosophy of life'--have switched places in the past three decades. In the survey taken at the start of the fall semester [1997], 74.9 percent of freshmen chose being well off as an essential goal and 40.8 percent chose developing a philosophy [a world view]. In 1968, the numbers were reversed, with 40.8 percent selecting financial security and 82.5 percent citing the importance of developing a philosophy."{8} No matter when such a survey is taken, it will indicate why a Christian student should be encouraged to solidify his philosophy, or world view. It also will indicate how he will have to "go against the flow" of his fellow students, whether or not apathy prevails.

    A multitude of world views can be found on contemporary campuses. Naturalism has been dominant for decades; a westernized type of eastern Pantheism (the New Age ) has made inroads; and Postmodernism is in vogue on many campuses, to name a few. This does not necessarily mean there is an "openness" to the variety of world views. Academic and religious prejudice are very much alive. It does mean, however, that the student should be prepared for the potential "shock" of hearing world view assertions that are radically opposed to his. For example, he needs to realize that many of his professors will be Naturalists who leave God out of everything and have contempt toward those who think otherwise.

©1998 Probe Ministries
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