Archive for the ‘University’ Category


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!!!!


Friday, November 27th, 2009

Practically speaking:

  • 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 group—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!


Thursday, November 26th, 2009

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. “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” (Hebs. 11:24)

Refuse to be absorbed into the world but choose to be a part of God’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 are—children of the Living God—and then you musmust live a hopeful life.

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). 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. “By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” (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 authority’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?


Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Next, there is a pervasive and abiding concern about the future. To those of us who lived through the Cold War this seem ludicrous. But the tentativeness and fear that pervades American society are real. Witness the catastrophe at Columbine. Those two young men were angry, confused, but most of all hopeless. We have lost our way; lost our dreams. Harvard professor Dr. Harvey Cox writes: “We once had dreams and no technology to bring them to pass. Now we have technology but no dreams!”

In fact, most social critics argue persuasively that this generation is one of the most hopeless in history. Interestingly enough this hopelessness has made us rather sentimental. We have become very sentimental about the past. Even in our most creative creations it is more of the same. Even though Hans Solo is a liar, a criminal and a fornicator, he still is a do-gooder spreading George Lucas’ version of truth and justice across the land. But God is totally absent. The Star Wars phenomenon is so appealing because it is about the past; not about the future. Luke Skywalker is more like John Wayne than he is like Tom Cruse.

To this hopeless generation history is not sacred; it is merely utilitarian. It is not didactic; it helps make them feel better. The modern psychologist B.F. Skinner, for instance, disdains history and gives M & M’s® to monkeys. We have no actions—only fate driving us. We are rudderless. The fact is we Christians know, however, that God is in absolute control of history. We need to teach our children to be tirelessly hopeful. We need to make sure that we are not mawkish! We can easily do so by speaking the Truth found in the Word of God in places of deception.

One of the greatest problems in this generation is confusion about individual responsibility. It was Freud who told us that feelings of guilt were a sign not of vice, but of virtue. That our problems stemmed from our mothers, not from our sin. Perhaps our problem began with Goethe whose Faust escapes the consequences of his sin by sincerity and good humor. What does this say for poor theistic Gretchen? Look at the evolution of the American understanding of hero:

  • 1930-1970 Traditional John Wayne . . . While he was not overtly Christian, Wayne exhibited Judeo-Christian behavior in all his actions.
  • 1970-2000 Modern Clint Eastwood . . . Eastwood is moral but the end justifies the mean. He is motivated by a golden-rule sort of moral code.
  • 2000-Present Post-Christian Tom Cruise . . . Morality to Cruise is defined by what is right in his own eyes.

Perhaps our movie icons best typify what America values and promotes in her culture.


Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Some of you will consider distance learning programs. Obviously these alternatives are growing very popular. With good reason. More and more of them are accredited. But be careful. Not all are accredited and some are actually more expensive than resident education. You should contact several graduate schools and ask them how they feel about admitting online students from your preferred undergraduate school.

There are four major components to college admission:

  • An SAT or ACT score
  • A Completed Transcript
  • References
  • An Admission Essay(s)

By far the most important component to college admission is the SAT/ACT tests.

It is important to understand that the SAT I is an aptitude test, not an achievement test (like the Iowa Basics or Stanford Tests). The SAT II or Subject Area Exams are achievement tests. The SAT I is a math and English test—there is no history, science, or any otheer subjects on the exam (although students will need these other subject for college admission).

The College Board® claims that almost 4 out of every 5 American colleges require the SAT I. That is not bad news. Christian students in general, home schooled Christian students in particular, are doing very well on the SAT I. Evangelical Christians should view preparation for the SAT I as an opportunity to grapple with an important question: Can they become what God is calling them to be? They won’t have the whole answer to this vital question at the end of their SAT preparation, but this can be a first step.

Students usually take the SAT I during the second semester of their junior year or first semester of their senior year. It measures their potential success in college, but it does not necessarily measure their information acquisition and assimilation skills. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with a student’s worth or esteem in God’s eyes.

The math portion and the verbal portion of the SAT are much different from the SAT some of us took several decades ago. There are more analysis questions, vocabulary is understood almost entirely in context, and there will be exercises requiring students to compare two reading passages. They will even have to write in some answers, instead of just picking a letter! There will be no antonyms on the SAT I, but double the number of reading comprehension questions. Finally, students will be allowed to use a calculator to help them with the math portion of the exam.
Vocabulary development is critical. As a matter of fact, I judge that 40 percent of the questions on the 2004 verbal portion of the SAT are related to vocabulary. Since analogies will be dropped and vocabulary problems will be increased, there are indications that that percentage will decrease on the 2005 exam. But that does not mean that students should ignore vocabulary development. Therefore, more than ever, it is vital that students learn the Latin/Greek roots of words. Also they should learn to define words in context. It is a waste of time for students to memorize the 500 most frequently used words on the SAT I. A better approach is to read good books (a list is included in the back of The SAT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student).

Higher level critical thinking is important to high SAT I scores. The SAT I is a cognitive, developmentally-based exam which assumes that students learn in stages. Bloom’s Taxonomy is frequently a reference resource for cognitive developmental thinking. Bloom’s Taxonomy argues that students learn in six stages. Most of the questions on the SAT I are based on the bottom and most challenging three levels: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. As a matter of fact, unless students are able to function at these higher thinking levels, they are doomed to manifest scores below 1000.
Sixty percent of the 2004 SAT I concerns critical reading exercises. That percentage will increase to eighty percent with the 2005 exam. In fact, the College Board is renaming the verbal section of the SAT I “Critical Reading Section.” This change in titling shows how serious the College Board folks are about critical reading. The verbal section will no longer include analogies. Instead, short reading passages will be added to existing long reading passages. A new section called the SAT writing section will be added. It will contain multiple-choice grammar questions as well as a written essay. That is good news to most classical-educated students who have spent years studying grammar and writing.


Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Be careful: what is a Christian college? Only a very few Christian colleges offer Ph.D.s. This means that the majority of Christian College faculties are trained in secular universities. That means there is no guarantee that Christian faculty will have a world view different from secular university faculty.

As a rule of thumb, in my opinion, evangelical students should try to attend Christian colleges. The fact is, if you are planning to attend graduate school, undergraduate degrees (if they are accredited) are more or less perceived equally by most graduate schools. If you have any doubt, phone the school and ask where their students attend graduate school.

Finally, in many ways it is a moot point. The majority of evangelical parents prefer to send their students to local, state or community colleges. Why? Cost. You can save on tuition and housing costs. In fact, it is not a bad idea to take most of your basic courses at a community or junior college. Keep this in mind, though. Transfer students with two years of college (c. sixty credits) virtually never receive financial aid. So, if you have a chance to receive scholarship aid, it might be more financial feasible for you to attend a four year undergraduate school immediately after high school graduation.

Speaking of graduation, why don’t some of you home school students consider a senior mission year? My son, Peter, finished his academic work junior year, obtained a good SAT Score, and spent his senior year suffering for Jesus at Maui (as in Maui, Hawaii) Bible College. It was a very positive experience for him. When he finished Bible College, he applied to college (his SAT scores were current) and he began his undergraduate education at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Some students wisely learn a trade before they begin undergraduate school. For instance, I have heard of a young man (home schooled) who learned how to wire houses. While an undergraduate and then a graduate student at Cornel University, he paid his way through college by wiring houses. When he graduated with a Ph. D. in electrical engineering he had no debt and obviously he was very employable.


Monday, November 16th, 2009

What is an evangelical to do? An evangelical makes 1550 on the SAT and is invited to apply to Princeton or Rice or Stanford or Duke. Should he? And, if he is accepted, how does he survive—even thrive—in a secular prestigious/competitive college. Should you attend competitive secular colleges? Or do you attend Christian schools alone? I give an overview of how a Christian can prosper in an environment that is ipso facto hostile.

Under what circumstances would you perhaps decide to attend a secular college?

If you are a Daniel, or can exist and thrive in Babylon without being an Babylonian, you might choose to attend a secular college. Daniel was part of the elite culture in this hostile land. He was honored and respected, but he remained a worshiper of Yahweh (Almighty God). Even though he lived in a hostile, risky, dangerous land, Daniel was able to maintain his identity in the Lord. Remember: you can make bad choices in a Christian university as easily as in a secular University. The fact is, a better choice is merely to make Godly choices regardless of where you are!

When I entered Vanderbilt University as an evangelical freshman, before I began, I had decided to be obedient to Scripture. I decided that before I began my studies! And I am glad I did!

Over the next four years of undergraduate school, and then two years of graduate school, I was sorely tested. For example, I had decided to remain morally pure and chaste. That was no easy thing since I lived in co-ed dorms both at Vanderbilt and then at Harvard! But I persevered. Success was rooted, however, at the moment I committed myself to a discipline, before the actual temptation began. It wasn’t that the temptation was mitigated; it was simply that the desire to be Christ-like was greater than the temptation. Again, though, it began before I went to college.

If you are a Daniel, you may be called to an academic discipline no Christian college offers. In that case you might choose a secular university.


Friday, November 13th, 2009

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 flash-point of cultural change is changing from Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, 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.

Something similar occurred at the end of Augustine’s life in the middle of the first millennium. Augustine lived in a time when the Roman Empire was collapsing. However, while the barbarians conquered Rome, the Church of Jesus Christ conquered the barbarians. Augustine and his elite Christian generation was used by the Lord to assure the future of the European church and European civilization.

Again, in the 1600s a new generation of evangelicals arose—the Puritans. Likewise this new generation of elites settled the New World and established the United States of America.

Young people, if you are part of this new evangelical elite, you have immense opportunities ahead of you. A new Godly generation is arising. Are they called for such a time as this to guide this nation into another unprecedented revival? We shall see.

Now, though, it is important that we look at more practical considerations. For instance, how is one accepted and able to thrive in the most competitive universities—secular or Christian? What does it mean to be a “Christian” university?

As this author argues, however one may feel about it, most of the culture creators of America graduate from 10 or 12 prestigious, competitive, mostly secular schools. That will change slowly as Christian universities become more competitive in attracting the best students (this author observed recently that the Christian evangelical university Grove City had the same acceptance rate as Princeton University!). In fact, many of the world’s decision makers are graduates of these schools. And, praise God, evangelicals have more opportunities than ever to attend these schools. We have already discussed what the liberal 21st century university looks like.

Leaving Mecca – Part 2

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Readers should not presume that I am arguing for a return to this parochial purpose of higher education, nor are readers to suppose that I would like to live in a country where everyone is forced to embrace a particular religious world view. Nonetheless, by and large, the marriage of American education and religion was assured for about the first 150 years of our existence. Its demise in the 20th century had disastrous results.

In fact, this author argues that a primary cause of the present unnatural American embrace of narcissistic, naturalistic secularism can be traced to the evangelical loss of the university. When American elitism was separated from its evangelical moorings, the cultural decline of American culture was assured. The divorce of the American university–the breeding ground of American elite culture—and Christian evangelicalism has created some of the cultural woes we presently are facing as a nation. Its reclamation – the evangelical campaign to reclaim the elite leadership of this nation—bodes well for the future cultural health of the United States.

Recalling again my time in Harvard Chapel in the middle of the 1970s and hearing the bold—but accurate I fear—assertion that the next generation of of culture creators were attending this institution and institutions like it. We were told that we were the select few, the elite. That probably was true—evidenced by the cultural mess we find ourselves at the beginning of the next century.


Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

One Harvard professor, the great evangelical author Fred Buechner resigned from Harvard Divinity School because he felt embarrassed to mention God in his classes. “The mere mention of God-an omniscient God, God as a transcendent being– when I was there . . . would be guaranteed to produce snickers,” Ari Goldman wrote (Atlantic Monthly, Dec., 1990).

By 1920, with its reductionism mentality, the American secular university had become an inhospitable place for evangelicals. The mother turned and ate her young. The place that was founded by evangelicals, to prepare Evangelicals to be the elite of American culture is now a place of danger, risk, and struggle for its progeny.

Worse than that: Evangelicals seemed to accept willingly their own demise. Evangelical Christians in positions of formal power passively yielded to each stage in the advance of secularism. And, when they did resist, they failed.

Why? Douglas Sloan, in Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education (Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox) argues that the university looked to liberal Protestant Christianity to replace Evangelical Christianity. What no one understood, including Evangelical Christians, was that science, as understood in the late 19th century, was fundamentally at odds with Evangelical thought. The university was firmly in the camp of positivistic philosophy that basically had discarded the notion of supernatural from American intellectualism. Evangelicals tried accommodation, but, after the Scopes Trial, they abandoned ship, so to speak. So, if the secular university rejected evangelicalism, by 1920, evangelicalism abandoned the secular university.

In the end the university pulled back from affirming the real possibility of knowing God and of the existence of a spiritual world. What evangelicals learned, or thought that they learned, was that the secular American university was too dangerous a place to be. So they formed their own universities. It is unfortunate that there was no fight to the finish in the 1920s. If the issue had been forced who knows if we would live in a society dominated by secular-minded people. In the initial stages, though, Evangelicals did not muster the intellectual resources necessary to challenge the cultural assumption that knowledge comes only from natural sources (see Phillip E. Johnson , “How the Universities Were Lost,” in First Things 51 (March 1995) 51-56). They never have–even until today.