“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
This might be the mission statement for every Christian school, every homeschooling mom, every Christian father, every Christian educator. And to be clear, it is certainly my mission statement as a father, as a pastor, as a school board member. What follows should be filed under my robust support for a thoroughly Christian education. This is a call to go further up and further in.
I am a robust supporter of 2 Cor. 10:4-5 being the rallying cry of all Christian educators, and yet, realistically, most 18 year olds today will not possess these qualities when they graduate from high school. At best, many of our graduates will have begun to use the weapons of our warfare. They will have begun to cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. They will have begun to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. But they will have only just begun. Will they be Christian worldview ninjas fully equipped for success in college and the workplace? A lot depends on what college or which workplace. A rigorous, classical Christian K-12 education certainly is great preparation for some colleges and many professions. Does it fully equip every kid to face every conceivable argument or enemy? Not hardly.
The Southern Baptist Convention announced in a recent study that as high as 88% of their kids may be leaving the faith after high school. Another study says that 70% of kids who grew up in evangelical churches leave the faith in college. Men had a better chance to survive storming the beaches of Normandy than Christian kids retaining their faith in public colleges and universities. Anecdotally, one of my biggest shocks doing evangelism on campus for several years was how many kids I met who had grown up in church and were now agnostic and not walking with God. Another anecdote: as I’ve taught Christian high school seniors the last couple of years, it’s occurred to me that I would not recommend one student from my classes for public university. For some it would be an absolute disaster, and for others (the more solid ones) it would be completely demoralizing. One oft quoted (though highly questionable) statistic claims that one in four women will be sexually assaulted in college. If there was any truth to that statistic, would any reasonable Christian father send their daughter to college? The rate of Christian kids losing their faith in secular colleges is certainly higher than that.
Public universities and state colleges are boot camps for secularism and socialism, and all the indications are that despite our best efforts in providing a distinctively Christian K-12 education, a good way to throw all of it away is to send our graduates to public universities. Do some Christian kids survive? Yes, of course. But our goal is not merely for our kids to survive. Our goal is to produce graduates who pull down strongholds, cast down arguments, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We are not aiming for graduates who make it with their faith intact. We are aiming for graduates who are dangerous to secularism where ever they go. In order for them to be dangerous to secularism, we must see our task as training our students to be fundamentally incompatible with these secular boot camps (universities). We should want our students to be the kind of kids who would be expelled from most universities for failure to conform, for failure to bow to the various false gods, for making a holy ruckus. If they aren’t being expelled, we should assume that all the sharp edges of their education they received are being dulled. And of course many so-called Christian colleges/universities are just as pagan as public universities (underneath the Pharisaical sheen) and so they should be avoided like the plague as well.
If we are really going to take our vision statements seriously, we need to be encouraging our graduates — if they are going to attend college (not all should) — to attend distinctively Christian colleges and universities. A Christian college is no magical cure-all, but Christians must not allow folly and tragedy to make them functional relativists when it comes to evaluating options for college. Christians should not be presenting public universities as equal options alongside rigorous Christian options. We have begun to give our children something enormously valuable and powerful. Why would we send them somewhere for college that is intentionally designed to blunt, undermine, and rob them of those weapons? Yes, I know that some will thrive, some will learn to be bold and zealous missionaries, but most won’t. Why would we do that to them?
New e-book Death by Baptism available here.