Archive for the ‘Students’ Category

Harvard and Heaven: Prospering in the Secular University – Part II

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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.

Harvard and Heaven: Prospering in the Secular University – Part I

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

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.

The Study of History

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The times in which we live require a new look at history.  History, of course, never changes.  But we do.  Each generation looks rewrites history, so to speak, in light of its present circumstances. For instance, I bet American history books would have a far different perspective on radical Islam pre-Sept. 11, 2001 than history books written post-September 11, 2001!

The writing of history is the selection of information and the synthesis of this information into a narrative that will stand the critical eye of time. History, though, is never static. One never creates the definitive theory of a historical event.

History invites each generation to reexamine its own story and to reinterpret past events in light of present circumstances.

The creation of this story is more difficult than it seems. From the beginning the historian is forced to decide what sort of human motivation matters most: Economic? Political? Religious? Social?

For instance, what causes the American Revolution?

The historian Bernard Bailyn argues that ideology or the history of thought caused the American Revolution. No, the historian Oscar Handlin argues, the Revolution was caused by social upheaval (i.e., the dislocation of groups and classes of people). Sydney Ahlstrom argues that religion was an important cause of the American Revolution. And so forth.

We must look at several theories of history, primary source material, and then decide for themselves what really happened.

Students must know and accept that the past is constantly changing according to new scholarship discoveries. Therefore, as new sources are discovered, and old ones reexamined, students understand that theories of history may change. My history books—American, World,  British, Middle School Epoch I, II, III Histories force students to commit themselves to the task of examining these theories, primary source material, and ultimately to form their own theories of history. “Every true history is contemporary history,” historians Gerald Grob and George Billias write. My students make the theories of historical events personal and contemporary.

While I know that my students can never be completely neutral about history, scholarly historical inquiry demands that they implement the following principles:

  1. Historians must evaluate the veracity of sources. There must be a hierarchy of historical sources. Primary source material, for instance, usually is the best source of information.
  2. Historians must be committed to telling both sides of the historical story. They may choose to lobby for one view over the other, but they must fairly examine all theories.
  3. Historians must avoid stereotypes and archetypes. They must overcome personal prejudices and dispassionately view history in ruthlessly objective terms.
  4. Historians must be committed to the truth no matter where their scholarship leads them. At times historians will discover unflattering information about their nation/state.
  5. Finally, historians understand that real, abiding, and eternal history ultimately is made only by people who obey God at all costs.

Student Essays – Part 6

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Occasionally I feature special essays that my students write.

My students were asked to create imaginery diary entries for Anne Frank (if she had survived).

March 6, 2005
Dear Kitty,
This is Jane, daughter of the woman who has written to you for so many years. I just wanted to write that my beloved mother died yesterday in her sleep. About ten years ago, mom asked me to write to you when she died. I never have kept a diary and am not really sure how to, but I am trying my best for mom. Although you are only an old journal, mom talked about you as if you were her best friend. I just wanted to tell you, even though you are not alive, how much you meant to my mother and how you sustained her through some very tough points in her life. For this, I thank you.

Student Essays – Part 5

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Occasionally I feature special essays that my students write.

My students were asked to create imaginery diary entries for Anne Frank (if she had survived).

October 20, 2001
Dear Kitty,
That fateful day in September has caused me to think. Once I married and began having children, I slowly stopped writing and speaking across America. Now, I want to be able to thank the people who helped free me. I have spoken to John, who is a World War II veteran, about joining the American Legion that he belongs to. I understand that it is for American war veterans, but I feel like this would be a better chance for me to thank them for all they have done, instead of just speaking to them once. John has talked to them and they have decided to make a special exception with me. My first meeting was yesterday, and it was wonderful. When I was introduced formally to all of them, they stood up and began to clap. It was both an honoring and humbling experience. The World War II veterans were especially interested when I explained what life for me was like during the war. I told them about our reactions when the radio announced that the invasion had began. They laughed. I believe that I belonging to the American Legion will be a benefit for both the veterans and myself.

Student Essays – Part 4

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Occasionally I feature special essays that my students write.

My students were asked to create imaginery diary entries for Anne Frank (if she had survived).

September 12, 2001
Dear Kitty,
I am devastated. My country is devastated. The world is devastated. Yesterday, in my own city, the great Twin Towers fell to the ground. Yes, a plane crashed into them and brought them down, on purpose. Who did this? Early reports are saying the ones who caused this are Muslim terrorists from the Middle East. I must admit, when I first heard about this devastating event, immediately I prayed that the Germans were not behind this. Although I am an old lady now, I often worry about the Germans rising up against the Allies. I fear that someone in the German army who has a Nazi past will recognize me and kill me, because I am a Jew. Actually, I never thought about it that much until yesterday afternoon. An event like this has rekindled many peoples’ fears I bet. I must go now, something on the news has caught my attention. !!!!!!

Student Essays – Part 3

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Occasionally I feature special essays that my students write.

My students were asked to create imaginery diary entries for Anne Frank (if she had survived).

November 8, 1973
Dear Kitty,
I am tired of war! I have had to live through World War II, the Korean War, and the never ending war in Vietnam. This war has lasted fourteen years, and still it continues. I suppose every war has a reason it was fought, and, from what I can tell, the United States has fought for the right reason. But for fourteen years? Of course, the worse part of this war for me has been John serving in Vietnam as a surgeon. I understand why John wants to go, and I will certainly never be one of the anti-war protestors, but you would believe that Vietnam could have solved its differences by now. As someone who had to live in hiding for more than two years because of war, I know firsthand what one goes through in a war torn country. My heart goes out to them.

Student Essays – Part 2

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Occasionally I feature special essays that my students write.

My students were asked to create imaginery diary entries for Anne Frank (if she had survived).

January 23, 1970
Dear Kitty,
I don’t know how I am able to keep writing to you with a husband and three children! Honestly, I don’t know a single woman my age who still keeps a diary. I suppose you are the only one I can confide in. Well, I suppose I should tell you how my trip to the Netherlands with my family went. But I cannot take too long, since I have to make dinner before John comes home from work. Probably one of the most exciting things on the trip for the twins was the airplane ride there and back. Imagine that, I detest flying. I suppose Andy and Austin take after their father. Little Jane though loved being able to see her grandparents. They absolutely spoil her when they have a chance. It was also fun for the little ones to be able to play with Margot’s children. Although John had met my family before, he had never seen the Secret Annexe. When I showed him it, he couldn’t believe what he saw. Our home in New York may not be very big, but compared to this, it is gigantic! Later on that day, John pulled me away from all the activity and asked me if I was okay with remembering what my life was like during the war. I had never been asked this before. Truthfully, I told him yes. I am glad that this has all happened to me. Otherwise I may not have been where I am now. Because of what I did during the war, I have been able to educate so many Americans about what happened in my small corner of the world, and why they helped me get out of that small corner. I must be going now, I can hear the twins making trouble and the pots boiling.

Student Essays – Part 1

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Occasionally I feature special essays that my students write.

My students were asked to create imaginery diary entries for Anne Frank (if she had survived).

If Anne Frank had lived…

May 7, 1955
Dear Kitty,
Forgive me Kitty, for losing you. After almost eleven years without you, we have finally been reunited. Let me explain, please. You see, when we heard that the war had ended, we rejoiced! Although everyone told us it was still unsafe, we all ran out into the streets. Oh, Kitty, to be outside after so long. Miraculously, our old house had survived, so we were able to move back in. This is where I lost you, amidst the packing of all our possessions. Although it took me quite a while to come to the realization that all of my friends were dead, I did go back to school. Our family started to adjust to being back in our actual home. And so life carried on. Now here I am, twenty-five years old. You will never guess where I am living now. America! When the war ended, I began to realize how much I owed my life to the allied countries, particularly America. I never knew when I was in hiding how much they were doing for us. So, although I can never fully repay them, I decided to move to America, and tell the people around me how much they were appreciated in Europe. Now, I am an author and speaker who travels across the country to educate Americans on how much of a difference they made to the Netherlands, and many other countries during the war. I have even had the great privilege to meet the president. My family decided to stay in the Netherlands. Daddy has gone back into the business world with Mr. Van Daan. Although I try to visit my old country often, I love my new country. Perhaps one of the greatest joys in America for me is the openness to Jews. I can rest knowing that, as long as I am in America, I will never go into hiding again because of my religious beliefs.
P.S. I never told you how I found you. Well, on my last trip to the Netherlands, I visited our Secret Annexe and discovered you, with an inch of dust. How embarrassed I am


Monday, November 30th, 2009

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!!!!