Option Three

Rick Mattson Uncategorized 2 Comments

K telling me his faith story

I find that many of the college students I visit with around the country don’t know why they believe in the Bible and Jesus.

I guess they formed these beliefs on the authority of parents and pastors, but few students can articulate any other reasons for their faith.

The result is that they tend to shield their religious life from the critique of the university. Either that or expose their beliefs and get slaughtered.

There is both a third and a fourth option, however. I favor the third: Integrate your faith and studies, which of course means owning your faith in a deep sense and having reasons to back it up.

The fourth option isn’t much good: Possess a kind of “blind faith” that, despite resistance on campus, blazes forward in strident, ignorant glory, causing much offense while taking solace in being persecuted for the Cause.

Back to option three–integration. This means inviting Jesus into every class, paper, exam and relationship. A small percentage of students I’ve worked with in collegiate ministry over the years (29 years, to be exact) come equipped out of high school with this mindset. 

Evangelicals should be good at this integration. How could we improve?

Comments 2

  1. Hi, Rick,

    Good stuff. Of course, I'm right along with you with thinking this faith/studies integration is the right road to walk.

    What I continually encountered in Evangelicalism which resisted such integration was the rather blind fideism to which you refer, which almost always carried an anti-intellectual (or at least anti-academic) nuance. I assume this stemmed out of fundamentalist needs to discredit Enlightenment-driven academic and intellectual systems and methodologies which began to “demythologize” (or worse) the Christian faith.

    You ask how Evangelicals could improve. Three suggestions, based on my read of the situation, and certainly not comprehensive:

    1. Never, ever be afraid of employing reason in matters of faith…even (especially!) when opposing arguments seem profound and persuasive. (cf. Aquinas)

    2. Always remember that non- and anti-Christian thought has its own social/cultural/historical contexts and roots which are no more valid than those of Christian thought. (cf. Plantinga, from what I know if him)

    3. Pray, pray, pray! And study hard–as if serving the Lord, not your professor. (cf. Col. 3:23)

  2. Pat, astute comments! Thanks very much.

    Yes, it seems to me that vestiges of anti-intellectualism remain with us. Reason isn't trusted as a Biblical value. Yet, the use of reason is ubiquitous in the scriptures–in Jesus' and Paul's interactions with the Jewish teachers, for example.

    Naked, unaided reason that begins and ends at the human level is rightly condemned by the church. Yet, no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, eh?

    Your point #2, that secular studies have their own uncertain foundations, is not known by students. They assume secular learning is based on the certitude of facts, while faith is held in thin air.

    What they need is an apologetic base during their teen years. I've done this and seen it done. It takes creativity, however, to keep things interactive and interesting (Daniel 1, a good place to begin).

    I'm with you, brother, in prayer for this!

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