Over the years I have met many people who have told me how their lives became shipwrecked because of professors who undermined biblical authority at what they thought was a solid Christian college. Praise the Lord for the testimonies of those whose confidence in God’s Word was restored with the help of apologetics material from various organizations like Answers in Genesis—but not without suffering many negative consequences before their restoration. Now that they are parents, they have often told me they will be much more careful to whom they will entrust their children for higher education.
Sadly, many distressed parents have told me how their children’s lives have already been shipwrecked. They found out too late that professors who taught at what they thought was a great Christian university were instilling doubts concerning God’s Word. They can’t believe they spent so much money and entrusted their children’s hearts and minds to an institution, only to see their children walk away from the Christian faith.
From my experience of thirty years of itinerant ministry, I believe such instances have been repeated many times across the world.
After working on the book Already Gone, which examined why two thirds of young people leave the church when they reach college age, I asked America’s Research Group to do another study to determine what is really being taught at Christian colleges.
The results are detailed in the new publication, Already Compromised (see pp. 19–20). Researchers went directly to the presidents, vice presidents or academic deans, heads of the science departments, and heads of the theology/religion departments to find out what they believe and teach at each college.
On the one hand, we found nearly 100% agreement on New Testament issues such as belief in the virgin birth, Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross, a literal heaven and hell, and the bodily resurrection of Christ.
However, the minute we stepped into the Old Testament, and particularly the book of Genesis, the more detailed our questions, the clearer it became that there were serious problems. The specifics are in the book, and highlights appear on the following pages. But a disturbing pattern appeared: an “uncertain sound” is being given to students, which authors of the book have dubbed a sort of “newspeak,” to use George Orwell’s word from Nineteen Eighty-Four. We could even call it a form of “Christian newspeak.”
What we mean is that the words being used have one meaning to the hearers and another “new” meaning to the “speakers” (thus “newspeak”). In Orwell’s novel, the bureaucrats of the all-powerful state manipulated words to hide the truth from the masses and to keep them under control.
In many instances the words that Christian colleges use do not convey the meaning that most parents and students think they convey.
I believe we could say many Christian colleges are committing a form of newspeak. When they toss around words like “infallibility,” “inspiration,” “inerrancy,” “literal,” and “as written,” in many instances the words do not convey the meaning that most parents and students think they convey.
For instance, many Christian professors say they believe in a worldwide flood, but in reality they believe in a local flood—to them “worldwide” means what they call “the known world,” or some other limited area. They may say they take Genesis “literally,” yet they believe the “days” of Creation represent millions of years.
I have found over the years that some colleges don’t really want parents to know what is being taught in their classes. So they tell parents comforting words like the ones listed above, knowing that the parents will automatically think the students are being taught the parents’ biblical views—but that is not necessarily the case.
Newspeak at Christian Colleges
Nearly half (49%) of the leaders at Christian colleges see themselves as “old-earth” Christians. Yet the majority of these same Christian leaders would say “yes” when asked whether they believe . . .
- “The Genesis account of creation as written.”
86% said “yes.”
- “The Genesis 1–2 account of creation is literally true.”
78% said “yes.”
- “God created the earth in six literal 24-hour days.”
52% said “yes.”
In a sense, such words (and many others) really constitute a new language in Christendom. In many instances the new meaning being conveyed is not the original meaning that Bible-honoring Christians have always applied to these words.
And in a way, these educators’ objective is “control,” in the sense they want to put people at ease concerning what is being taught. But the research by America’s Research Group shows that Christians have ample reason to be very uneasy about what is being taught.
Based on this research, parents and students are advised to start asking professors and administrators very specific questions about what is being taught, to try to drill down to find what the words really mean (see p. 21 for some specific ideas).
It is vitally important that parents understand the gravity of this situation and spend much more time researching what is being taught at Christian colleges. Although in this sinful world there are no perfect colleges, nonetheless, some are doing their best to give a “certain sound” regarding the infallibility of God’s Word.
If you have children who plan to choose a Christian college, please make sure you do your utmost to ensure they are fully prepared to make wise choices, despite the spiritual battle raging around us.
That’s What I Said . . . But Not What I Meant
Politicians have earned a reputation for being slick with words—choosing them carefully so that the hearers will assume one thing, while the speaker means something quite different. Unfortunately, some Christian educators have adopted a whole new meaning for some common words, which no longer mean what the average Christian has always understood them to mean. So it can be very difficult to pin down what a school or educator actually believes. America’s Research Group received quite different responses from Christian educators, depending on how their survey questions were worded. Here are some samples.
What do colleges believe about the Bible’s teaching on earth history? The answer depends on how you ask!
What do colleges believe about the global Flood of Noah’s day? The answer depends on how you ask!