Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
The university, if it has any value, must be involved in the communication of immutable, metaphysical truth. The American secular university is not about to accept such limits. It recognizes no citadel of orthodoxy, no limits to its knowledge. But, like Jesus reminds Thomas in John 14, our hope lies not in what we know, but most assuredly whom we know.
Most secular universities have concluded that abstract concepts like grace, hope, and especially faith are indefinable, immeasurable, and above all unreasonable. Not that God or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ can be proved, or disproved. There are certain issues which the order of the intellect simply cannot address, so we must rise above that to the order of the heart. Faith is our consent to receive the good that God would have for us. Evangelicals believe that God can and does act in our world and in our lives. Human needs are greater than this world can satisfy and therefore it is reasonable to look elsewhere. The university has forgotten or ignores this fact.
That is all changing—and partly due to the popularity of the American home schooling movement. In massive numbers the American home school movement—initially and presently primarily an evangelical Christian movement—is depositing some of the brightest, capable students in our country into the old, august institutions like Harvard. And, what is more exciting, the flashpoint of cultural change is changing from Harvard, Princeton, Darmouth, and Stanford to Wheaton, Grove City, Calvin, and Liberty (all evangelical universities). Before long the new wave of elite culture creators will be graduating from American secular universities and Christian universities and they shall be a great deal different from the elite of which I was a part in the middle 1970s. I am not saying the secular university will change quickly—intellectual naturalistic reductionism makes that extremely difficult. However, I do see the whole complexion of university graduates to change significantly in the next twenty years. Never in the history of the world has such a thing happened.
Young people, make sure that you know who you are and who your God is. “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” (Hebs. 11:24) Theologian Walter Brueggemann calls American believers to “nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”
Refuse to be absorbed into the world but choose to be a part of God’s kingdom. There is no moderate position anymore in American society–either we are taking a stand for Christ in this inhospitable culture or we are not.
You are special and peculiar generation. Much loved. But you live among a people who do not know who they are. A people without hope. You need to know who you are—children of the Living God—and then you must live a hopeful life. Quoting C.S. Lewis, we “are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
Take responsibility for your life. Moses accepted responsibility for his life. “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” (Hebs. 11: 25) If you don’t make decisions for your life, someone else will.
Get a cause worth dying for. Moses accepted necessary suffering even unto death. You need a cause worth dying for (as well as living for). “He [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebs. 11: 26). We are crucified with Christ, yet it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Gals 2:20).
Finally, never take your eyes off the goal. “By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” (Hebs. 11:27). What is your threshold of obedience?
Young people, if you are part of this new evangelical elite, you have immense opportunities ahead of you. A new Godly generation is arising. You will be called to guide this nation into another unprecedented revival. We shall see.
I once heard a home school convention speaker ask, “Do you want Harvard or do you want Heaven?” The implication is that if we chose Harvard we were choosing Hell. Well, I think that we can have Harvard and Heaven!
Who could imagine that a movement that began so quietly in the 19970s and 1980s would someday generate so vital and an anointed generation that is emerging at the beginning of this century? It is a time to celebrate and to reflect.
In 2013 it is an uncontested fact: home schoolers are dominating college admission test scores, and, it is growing more evident each day that they are highly qualified and successful college students when they are admitted. When I was growing up, eons ago, elite prep schools dominated the college admission classes. Today, the new “elite” are home schooled graduates. They are the most highly recruited, most highly valued freshmen at secular and Christian schools alike. I am privy to a Harvard University online chat room, and recently I saw this statement posted. “If Harvard wants to be the best, the most relevant institution in the years ahead, it must recruit and admit home schoolers.” Indeed.
And Harvard has reason to worry. I spoke to a Yale recruiter and she told me that, while Yale wants home schoolers, home schoolers do not seem to want Yale. They are not applying to Yale. Likewise, I have two distance learning students who were heavily recruited by Ivy League schools. They both chose local alternatives (a state school and a Christian school).
It is not the purpose of this article to lobby for any particular post-graduate choice, although I found my wife at Harvard—and Intervarsity Fellowship on Thursday night in Cambridge is larger than the entire student body at Gordon College (a Christian College) in South Hamilton. Mostly for fiscal reasons, the majority of Christian home schoolers go to secular colleges. That is an uncontested fact. We home schoolers, for whatever reason, usually attend secular colleges.
Therefore, this article is about the secular colleges we will attend—how they got to be the way they are and how we can prosper in such a place.
First, to most evangelical Christians, the modern, secular, university is a hostile place. It was not always so.
In fact, the American university was built solidly on evangelical principles. There were no so-called “official” “secular” colleges until the rise of the land grant colleges in the middle of the 19th century. An early brochure, published in 1643, stated that the purpose of Harvard University (the oldest American university) was “To advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministry to the Churches.” Harvard’s motto for 300 years was “Christo et Ecclesiae.” In fact, most of the U. S. universities founded before the 20th century had a strongly religious, usually Protestant Evangelical Christian character. Yale, Princeton, Chicago, Stanford, Duke, William and Mary, Boston University, Michigan, and the University of California had a decidedly evangelical Christian character in the early years of their existence but abandoned it by the 20th century. By 1920s, the American university had stepped completely back from its evangelical roots. This was true of almost every American university founded in the first 200 years of our existence.
Readers would be surprised to see how evangelical, Christ-centered early universities were. They had pastors as presidents. These men closely tied the identity of their university to a strong Christian world view. The core curriculum included Bible courses and Christian theology. These were mandatory Bible courses. All American universities insisted on a doctrinally sound content for sensitive courses and often required that faculty be born again Christians! Imagine this: the famous historian Frederick Jackson Turner was refused a professorship at Princeton because he was a Unitarian! Chapel attendance was required at Harvard and Yale! It is more than coincidental that the architects who designed early universities designed them to look like churches. At the University of Pittsburgh, for instance, the most prominent building on campus is the Cathedral of Learning.
Universities were founded because early Americans earnestly believed that American society should be governed by evangelical Christian people. They believed that American industry should be run by evangelical Christian entrepreneurs. They believed that American culture should be created by evangelical artists. The early American university was committed to making sure that that happened.
The marriage of spiritual maturity and elite education is a potent combination and to a large degree assured the success of the American experiment. Its divorce may presage its demise.
Today the university is not even loosely a Christian institution. Religion in the university and in public life is relegated to the private experience. So-called “academic freedom” has become a sacrosanct concept and precludes anything that smacks of religiosity–especially orthodoxy that evangelicals so enthusiastically embrace. Religion is represented on campus in sanitary denominational ministries and token chapel ministries (that were hardly more than counseling centers).
To a large degree, then, the American university abandoned the evangelical and the evangelical abandoned the American university.
This created a crisis in the American university and in the evangelical community. The secular American university compromised its “soul” for naturalistic; evangelicalism compromised its epistemological hegemony for ontological supremacy. In other words, the secular university became a sort of an academic hothouse for pompous rationalism. Evangelicals abandoned the secular university, and, until recently, more or less compromised their academic base. Evangelicals even founded their own universities but they were poor academic substitutes for secular offerings. Even as I write article, this is changing.
FSATAT is dedicated to helping students prepare for the next calling in their lives; specifically the ACT and SAT.
When I was growing up, the ACT was a second rate exam which only Midwest and southern colleges accepted. Not so anymore. Most if not colleges accept it.
The ACT test assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. It does this by assessing students’ performance in high school and, therefore, it is more a measure of college readiness than it is a prediction of college performance.
The converse is true for the SAT. The SAT is a critical thinking, skill based test. It is very much like the IQ test.
The ACT is an achievement verses IQ aptitude test. An achievement test is based upon a corpus of information. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. If students are competent in these areas, if they know enough information related to these disciplines, and can apply this information to cognitive challenges,
In that sense, the ACT is of the same genre as an Iowa Basic or Stanford Achievement test.
The SAT, as I said, is an IQ type test. It is not based upon epistemology; it is based upon critical thinking. In other words, the SAT measures students’ ability to problem solve. The ACT measures students’ knowledge acquisition. Therefore, the SAT preparation ideally needs a commitment of one to three years.
Students cannot raise their IQ scores nor improve critical thinking skills overnight, or even in two months. But students can raise ACT scores in 50 days.
The single best preparation event for the SAT & the ACT is active reading of challenging literary works. Students should read about one book per week. I have included a free college prep reading list.
What Is It?
Like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test. With the exception of the optional writing section, all of the questions are multiple choice. There are 215 questions in all, and the exam takes about three hours to complete. The questions focus on four core academic subject areas: math, English, reading, and science, and scores range between 1 and 36.
What does the ACT measure?
ACT questions focus upon academic knowledge that high school and therefore an unfair assessment tool.
How Are ACT Scores used by Colleges?
Exactly how students’ ACT scores will be used by a college varies from school to school. In some schools, a student’s ACT score, along with their GPA, is the chief criteria upon which acceptance decisions are made. At other schools, ACT scores play only a minor role in determining acceptance, and applicants’ GPA, class rank, and cultural backgrounds may be viewed as more important.
Here is some special information about preparing for the ACT and SAT:
Mathematics — Students are tested on mathematical concepts and practices endemic to 11th grade goals. The test is designed to check for mathematical reasoning and basic computational skills, so no complex formulas or elaborate computations will be included in the exam. Calculators are allowed, although there are restrictions.
For a long time, the SAT was by far the most popular college entrance exam in the United States. Even though a high percentage of high school students who hope to go on to a university still rely on the SAT to show their academic prowess, the ACT has gained a lot of ground over the years. The ACT is divided into four individual subject examinations, each one covering a separate subject area. The material includes:
Reading — Students are tested on direct reading comprehension and inference based on the material presented. Similar to the English exam, the test consists of several different literary genre passages from multiple disciplines, which are followed by several questions on the passage. Since reading skills such as determining the main idea and understanding causal relationships are being tested, rote fact checking is not included in the exam.
Writing — The writing test, which is an optional test on the ACT (but not on the SAT), measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. Colleges compare the ACT essay with student college admission essays. If there are marked differences, the ACT essay can hurt student admission chances. On the other hand, if the ACT essay is better than the college admission essay, then students have a much better chance to be admitted and receive a scholarship at aforementioned colleges.
English — Students are tested on grammar rules and rhetorical skills. Rhetoric requires students to discern the writing strategy of a passage. The exam consists of several literary passages, which are followed by several questions on the passage or selected parts.
Science — Students are tested on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students should have had courses in biology, earth sciences, and the physical sciences by the 11th grade. The test consists of several data sets presented as data representation (graphs, charts, etc.) and research expressions of conflicting hypotheses, which are followed by several questions after each set. Calculators are not allowed during the science exam.
More than ever before America is hungry for new, talented leaders. The ACT and the SAT are gates that must be opened for students to enter that path. Can you imagine what America will look like with 1 to 2 million new, sprit-filled, evangelical leaders? FSATAT is committed to making that happen!
FIVE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE SAT
1. The SAT is unimportant; Colleges only look at GPA and transcripts.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. In this age of unequal public and private high schools, the SAT is the great equalizing factor. It is the penultimate and most preferred college admission credential.
2. The PSAT is a good indicator of SAT performance.
According to CollegeBoard, There is absolutely no data to support this statement. On the contrary, students usually do much better on the SAT than they do in the PSAT.
3. The PSAT is necessary for college scholarships.
This is absolutely untrue! Colleges could care less about PSAT. They are only interested in SAT scores. The PSAT is only important if it leads to a National Merit Scholarship.
4. I don’t need to prepare. All I need to do is take a few tests and my score will go up.
There is no correlation between frequency of taking this aptitude/IQ test and increased scores. Students score + or – 8 points every time that they take it.
5. The writing portion of the SAT is unimportant. College do not use it.
Most colleges do examine the SAT Writing score; 100% prefer it. Colleges compare the Writing Exam essay to the college application essay that most students submit. My SAT Preparation book provides a free College Admission Section.
A worldview helps us make the critical decisions, which will shape our future. I want to talk to you about what the vision, mission, and purpose of FSATAT (For Such a Time as This). The For Such a Time as This (FSATAT) exists to love and to glorify God, to help fulfill the Great Commission, to affirm, to encourage, to equip, and to empower parents and teachers to educate and to disciple their students with excellence. We are not merely a home school, or any school support resource—we want to participate, even in a modest way, in the coming revival/renewal we see coming to this nation!
In fall, 2011, I received my alumni magazine Harvard Divinity Today, Vol. 7, Number 3. I must admit reading the Today is not exactly the highest priority to this “alumni” who really reserves his allegiance to Gordon Conwell Seminary, but something caught my eye. “HDS [Harvard Divinity School] to Expand Program in Buddhist Ministry Studies” caught my eye. Silly me—I thought John Harvard bequeathed money in 1636 to found Harvard to prepare “men for Christian ministry.” Can you imagine what John Harvard would say if he knew his endowment spawned a special Buddhist ministry program? Oh my.
But that is only half of it. Buddhism—a sort of higher consciousness atheism—is no religion at all. It has no formal priesthood, no serious understanding of soteriology (salvation) or redemption. Buddhism is pretentious humanism; it has no serious belief in the supernatural. It is a banana split of human effort but hardly a sugar cone of metaphysical reality. No really ministry can occur without evoking the presence of a reality outside human existence, so, really, “Buddhism ministry” is an oxymoron.
Well, that is one reason FSATAT (For Such a Time as This) exists. 2013 religious America invests a lot of resources—a generous donor gave $2,500,000–to enable Harvard to do something that cannot be done—equip Buddhists to do ministry. But isn’t that the sign of the times. An erstwhile classmate of mine, 150 years ago, now deceased of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson, hardly a champion of Christian orthodoxy, but very much a vintage Harvard Divinity School man, speaking to the 1838 HDS senior class, in Divinity Hall, down the hall from where I lived, warned “One would rather be `A pagan, suckled in a creed outworn,’ than to be defrauded of his manly right in coming into nature, and finding not names and places, not land and professions, but even virtue and truth foreclosed and monopolized.” Virtue and truth are rarely discussed in 2012 America.
But virtue and truth are very important to For Such a Time as This.
What really matters to FSATAT? What is our vision? What are our core values?
- The family, whether it is with a single parent, or two, is the God breathed entity that God has ordained to nurture, to equip, to challenge this new generation.
- We value life and abhor any political or social policy that seeks to take life away.
- We encourage parents to raise a generation who is not afraid to be overcomers in an increasingly hostile culture.
- We urge families neither to conform to, nor to run from, secular culture but to transform this culture in the name of Christ.
- Like Deborah’s generation in Judges 5:11, we seek to share Christ at the watering holes–cultural creating centers of this society.
- We hope to establish an alternative culture/society of hope to this society of hopelessness so that His Kingdom might come on this earth as it is in Heaven.
One final note. Education is the most personal of human experiences and belongs first to the Creator God, and then to his designated authority. Therefore, FSATAT strongly advocates and encourages parental input into education. FSATAT passionately encourages full time home education but understands that public and private education, in some cases, is necessary, and even desirable. We therefore support all education endeavors!
Finally I need to say one more thing. FSATAT is not interested in retreated from Post-Modern, secular, Post-Christian American culture. We are afraid of no worldview. We will not pretend we serve any God but the awesome, omnipotent God we serve! We are servants; we will die daily for one another. But we will not participate in the culture of fear that is so pervasive in our nation. We intend to, and we encourage you, neither to conform to, nor to run from, secular culture, but to transform this culture in the name of Christ. The newsletter encourages parents to raise a generation who are overcomers in an increasingly hostile culture. The newsletter is part of establishing a culture of hope and confidence so that Christ’s Kingdom might come on this earth as it is in heaven.
In the months and years ahead we appreciate your prayers and support!
I am an inveterate Johnstown cuisine lover. My love affair, my wife Karen would say, has put 80 pounds on me in the last 21 years, but she is being ungenerous since I mostly eat her wonderful cooking. And what fine cooking it is! I remember the first meal Karen cooked for me in 1977. It was broiled chicken seasoned with salad dressing and boiled broccoli seasoned with lemon pepper. Until then, I had never eaten broiled chicken—my chicken was always fried—unless Big Momma served her famous chicken and dumplings. Broccoli, southern style, was cooked longer than it took General Grant to capture Vicksburg, MS, and I had heard of pepper (and used it liberally after I coated everything with salt) and lemons (which I put in my sweetened ice tea)—but never both together. Actually, my first meal was pretty good and the next 33,000 or so she has cooked me—my expanding waistline is a testament to my thorough conversion to Nouveau Yankee cuisine. Yummy good!
Well anyway the New York Time’s article argues that finally—finally—there is a vegetarian burger that rivals the most delicious Whopper or Quarter Pounder. Apparently, while the rest of us languished in the throes of the new Angus Quarter Pounder, inventive New York chefs have been working tirelessly to create the penultimate veggie burger. Food reviewer Jeff Gordinier is veritably overcome with joy when he writes “Veggie burgers . . . have explored into countless variations of good, and in doing so they’ve begun to look like a bellwether for the American appetite.”
Bellwether for the American appetite. Excuse me, but I doubt it.
Can you imagine cruising through the MacDonald’s drive through and asking for a veggie burger with fries and milk shake? Hum . . .
But excuse me. I respect vegetarians. More power to you. But, why do you want to copy my food? Do I try to copy yours? Respectfully, I doubt, even in NYC, that one can find broccoli and asparagus that will match the effervescence of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
Nonetheless, “There is something very satisfying about holding one’s dinner in one’s hand.” Indeed. But it can’t be done. Not really. A meatless burger is an oxymoron and it can never b e a dinner.
And here is another oxymoron—and this is where I am taking this—our society is desperate to emulate the Christian life. The Christian life, like the hamburger, is genuine, real, juicy, and full of protein. Lived in the right way, it can bring great life to a person and to his world. And it cannot be replaced by good feelings, good intentions, or other existential offerings. As Tolstoi writes in War and Peace, “Let us be persuaded that the less we let our feeble human minds roam, the better we shall please God, who rejects all knowledge that does not come from Him; and the less we seek to fathom what He has been pleased to conceal from us, the sooner will he vouchsafe its revelation to us through His divine Spirit.”
Finally, what does it mean to the future of America to have 4 million of its best, brightest, and spirit filled students graduating from the most prestigious universities in the world? What will it mean to have four million new business persons, artists, authors, military officers, business leaders, and government leaders who are spirit-filled evangelical Christians? I can feel the ground shaking!!!!
- Find a local church before you go to college. Go to the first service you can.
- Parents should meet the local pastor and introduce themselves.
- Participate in a local Christian groupâ€”Navigators, Inter-varsity, et al. But that does not substitute for a local church.
- Purpose to live a Godly life before you face temptation.
- Set up a study schedule that is a priority only behind your devotional life.
- Practice courtship.
- Expect persecution. The main persecution you will receive will be about your profession that Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life.
- Summer school can be a spiritual and financial opportunity for you. You can participate in mission trips that may count for academic credit and may also help you grow spiritually. Also, summer school may be a cost-effective way to accelerate your college experience and thereby save money for you and your parents.
- Avoid all appearance of evil.
- Write from a Christian perspective but do not allow your confessional stand to be an excuse for shoddy work.
- You will probably not be able to choose your roommate before you first arrive. But you can choose your roommate for your sophomore year. Choose wisely.
- Pray for your unsaved friends.
- Know the Truth.
- Live the Truth.
- Work hard and be the best follower of Christ that you can be!
Next, once we understand the world to which you are called there are several things I want to see happen to you.
Make sure that you know who you are and who your God is. â€œBy faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.â€ (Hebs. 11:24)
Refuse to be absorbed into the world but choose to be a part of Godâ€™s kingdom. You are special and peculiar generation. Much loved. But you live among a people who do not know who they are. A people without hope. You need to know who you areâ€”children of the Living Godâ€”and then you musmust live a hopeful life.
Take responsibility for your life. Moses accepted responsibility for his life. â€œHe chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.â€ (Hebs. 11: 25) If you donâ€™t make decisions for your life, someone else will.
Get a cause worth dying for. Moses accepted necessary suffering even unto death. You need a cause worth dying for (as well as living for). â€œHe [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.â€ (Hebs. 11: 26). Evangelicals know that we are crucified with Christ, yet it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Gals 2:20).
Never ever take your eyes off the goal. â€œBy faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.â€ (Hebs. 11:27). How long can you wait? How long can you persevere? What is your threshold of obedience?
The following are ten moral issues that must be clear in your mind before you go to college:
- Punishment and blame: What is fair punishment? Do you accept your authorityâ€™s right to enforce laws?
- Property: What is property and who owns it?
- Affiliation roles: What is a family? What are the motivations and obligations of a good family/ community member?
- Laws and statues: When if ever should laws be disobeyed?
- Life: What makes life valuable? Is life inviolable?
- Truth & Contracts: What is the truth? Why is truth telling valuable? Are there inviolable covenants that human beings must make?
- Government: What is a good citizen?
- Social justice: What are basic political, economic, and social rights?
- Sexuality: Is sex merely a biological response or is it related to religious or social guidelines?
If we are confused about what is right and wrong, about individual responsibilities, we are even more confused about toleration. S.D. Gaede, When Tolerance is No Virtue, says . . . â€œIn our culture, there is considerable confusion about how we ought to live with our differences and a cacophony of contradictory justifications for one approach as opposed to another. All appeal to the need of tolerance, but there is nothing like common argument on what that means. The question our culture raises by nature and development is what is truth and what can we believe? Our culture doesn’t know the answers. In fact, we have lost confidence in truth and have come to the conclusion that truth is unattainable. Thus, tolerance moves to the forefront.â€
Finally, in the years ahead, there will be real confusion about sexual roles. Sir Arnold Toynbee says . . . In the nineteen forties Toynbee studied civilizations and came to the following conclusions: Based on his study of twenty-one civilizations Toynbee found that societies in disintegration suffer a kind of â€œschism of the soul.â€ They are seldom simply overrun by some other civilization. Rather, they commit a sort of cultural suicide. Disintegrating societies have several characteristics, Toynbee argues. They fall into a sense of abandon People begin to yield to their impulses-especially in the sexual area. They also succumb to truancy that is escapism seeking to avoid their problems by retreating into their own worlds of distraction and entertainment. There is a sense of drift as they realize that they have no control over their lives. Consciousness is adrift, unable to anchor itself to any universal ground of justice, truth on which the ideals of modernity have been founded in the past.
Evangelicals, therefore, must not merely talk the talk. They must walk the walk. They are seeking to create an alternative community of hope. We/they are sabotaging the conspiracy of hopelessness and self-centeredness that is so pervasive in our nation. Bring on the revolution!