How do you find what a Christian institution actually believes and teaches? While its brochures and website may claim that the college is thoroughly Christian and biblical, you have to dig deeper, asking the right questions of the right people.
Christian parents and prospective students have every right to clear answers. So don’t be afraid to ask direct and specific questions about what a student can expect to hear in class.
Some schools may become defensive or vague. But if you are gracious and sincere in your questions, their evasiveness itself should be a warning sign.
Ask Specific Questions
You need to be very specific. Be aware that some Christian teachers have redefined common words, such as “literal” and “worldwide,” to mean things that you may not mean by them. For instance, they may say they believe in a “worldwide Flood,” but they mean it covered “the known region of the world.”
If you get vague answers, the wording below gives some ideas for how you can make your requests more concrete:
- Did God create the heavens (including the sun, moon, and stars) and the earth (including plants, animals, and Adam and Eve) in six literal 24-hour days?
- Did God create the heavens and earth as described above only a few thousand years ago (or “around six thousand years ago”)?
- Was Adam created literally from dust and Eve created literally from Adam’s side (i.e., they were not made from pre-existing living creatures by any evolutionary process)?
- Did the Flood of Noah’s day cover the entire globe?
- Are the 66 books of the Bible infallible and inerrant? (Note: Some educators may want you to clarify whether you mean “in the original manuscripts.”)
Ask the Right People
- Talk to as many people in as many different positions as possible. At larger schools it may be difficult to get beyond the admissions department and the students who give you a campus tour. But be persistent.
- If possible, try to meet with the president, vice president, or dean of academics. Find out the office hours of professors in various departments and drop in to meet them. In many cases, their emails and phone numbers are listed on the school’s website.
- Some of the best people to ask are former students or the parents of those students. Many schools have good intentions, but the reality in the classroom is often much different from their hopes.
- In an effort to help parents in this difficult process, Answers in Genesis is hosting a new website, www.CreationColleges.org, listing schools where the president formally agrees to AiG’s statement of faith. While this list is not exhaustive (and families must weigh many other important issues), it is a starting point. The new book, Already Compromised, includes an entire chapter on this subject.
Thriving Even in the Lion’s Den
No matter where you go to college, these principles will help you not only survive your college experience but also maximize this opportunity for all it’s worth.
Treasure Christ Above All
When we make Christ the priority, we will take His Word as it should be taken—as the revealed Word of the Creator God, who knows everything, who never tells a lie, and who sees everything. This attitude protects us from letting others use the words of fallible humans to reinterpret the clear teaching of the Bible.
Stay in the Word
Maintain a steady intake of truth from God’s Word. Not only this, but also make sure that Scripture is the foundation for all of your thinking in every area.
Repeatedly, God describes Christians as a body of believers who work together and encourage each other to accomplish His purposes. To thrive in the college years, find committed fellowship under the guidance of spiritual leaders who know and apply God’s authority.
Keep Up Your Guard
Even at a conservative Christian educational institution, your commitment to the Bible as your authority means that you must check everything you are taught against the truth of Scripture.
Live on Mission
If you want to survive and thrive, having a clear mission is not an option. It’s an imperative. During college you have an unprecedented opportunity to allow the Lord to work through you to minister somewhere in some specific way. Pursue this with other Christians who share your passion.