Seminary Viewpoints

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Should My Child Go to a Secular University?

Renton Rathbun | June 16, 2022
Theology Thursday

In the past two years, there has been a great awakening regarding the intent, doctrine, and strategies of the public school’s worldview. Parents from all over the nation have been pulling their children out of public elementary and high schools, placing them into Christian schools. Now more than ever people are becoming convinced that worldview permeates all communication of knowledge. They are realizing there are no neutral subjects in this world.

Despite this trend, when a child graduates from high school, parents are still encouraging their children to attend secular colleges and universities. “After all,” they might say, “think of all the money we can save if our child goes to the local university. They get to stay home with us. They can keep going to our church.” Of course, this is the same situation they were in when their child was going to a public high school. It is as if they believe that, although public elementary and high schools were intent in indoctrinating their children towards a secular worldview, somehow a secular college or university has a more neutral tone in the classroom. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Clearly, it is not a sin to go to a public college or university, but the question we must address is this: are our children ready for what is waiting for them in a secular university?

Many people believe that their child’s experience in a secular university will be something like the movie, God Is Not Dead. As if the student will draw the battle lines on his first day of class, and he will know for a fact where he stands and where the professor stands at all times. Unfortunately, most Christian students’ experiences are not so black and white. Most secular professors see Christian students not as an enemy but as one who must be saved from the harmful effects of growing up in religion.

Whether intentional or not, secular professors take a five-step process to reach the hearts of a Christian student.

  1. The professor accepts and sometimes even praises the student for his faith. This of course lowers the Christian student’s guard, for he has just been affirmed.
  2. The professor distances the student’s faith from the material in the classroom. This allows the student to feel safe about having a faith, while understanding it is not relevant in the classroom. In other words, the student learns that his faith is nice and cute, but the work in the classroom concerns reality.
  3. The professor introduces a well-packaged, easy-to-comprehend, sophisticated concept within his subject area. This means that the professor is able to take a very complex idea about his subject matter and make it easily digestible for the student. This passing on of sophisticated material allows the student to view himself as a smart person. He begins to identify himself as one who understands the complexities of the subject area, and this makes him feel quite special.
  4. The professor then demonstrates that the sophisticated idea that he has helped the Christian student to understand is now in major conflict with parts of the Bible. There may not be actual contradiction between the idea and Scripture. However, the professor is convinced of it, and there’s no one around to contradict him. This creates a dilemma for the student. He wants to hold onto his special ranking he received from understanding the complex material, yet, in order to do so, he believes he must reject something in Scripture.
  5. During this whole process, the professor slowly isolates the student, hinting at the idea that neither his parents nor his pastor would be able to understand these complex ideas, making it useless to go to them for help. In this isolation the student believes he actually has to make a choice between believing Scripture and maintaining the status that the sophistication from this class has provided.

This is how secular university professors are able to groom Christian students away from their faith. It is never because they actually find contradiction between reality and Scripture. This grooming begins with convincing the student that the professor’s worldview is reality itself.

We are left with some very difficult questions:

  • Is my child ready for this kind of warfare?
  • Would four more years of training be of more benefit to him before he enters more difficult battles in our culture?
  • Can Christian universities give my child everything he needs for vocational success, while giving him everything he needs for spiritual success?

To this final question, I believe the answer is a resounding yes. But you need to know what you’re looking for. Some Christian universities are “Christian” merely in name. Some Christian universities offer learning in a Christian atmosphere but not a robust Christian education. What we should be looking for is a Christian university that has a clear understanding of intentional, rigorous, truly Christian education.

As discussed by Renton Rathbun on The Steve Noble Show on June 16