The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1).
We are at war. We are at war with weapons far greater than any bomb, missile, or gun. And these weapons are aimed at targets far more strategic than any building, land mass, or army, because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world” (Eph. 6:12; NIV). We are at war against thoughts, thoughts raised up against the knowledge of God. And these thoughts are aimed at the minds of our children.
In the secular arena, the battle is often blatant, where the best the Christian can hope for is the condescending glances of those in power. In the Christian arena, however, the battle is often much more subtle. If the survey taught us anything, it’s that the battle has now come home again, where many—if not almost all—of our Christian institutions of higher learning are turning out to be “already compromised” to one degree or another.
It is spiritual warfare. There is a great deal at stake: our culture, our well-being, our way of life . . . but most importantly, the hearts and minds of our youth. It has been said that (from a human perspective) the Church is always only one generation away from extinction. Here in the 21st century, we have come face to face with that reality. We live in a time when we must “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5; NIV).
One national publication recently proclaimed that the United States is no longer a Christian nation.1 This has been a long time coming, but it has not come by accident. Yet we also know that the gates of hell themselves cannot stand against the Church as she takes the light of truth into enemy territory (Matt. 16:18). The anti-Christian, atheistic segment of our culture has become very militant.2 What were once skirmishes between the two sides is now open warfare. The prominent players in this anti-Christian movement and the books they have written include Dr. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion; Dr. Sam Harris, The End of Faith; Dr. Victor Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis; Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great; and Dr. Michael Onfray, The Atheist Manifesto. They all talk about the final battle being against Christianity.
Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.
Nobel laureate Dr. Steven Weinberg writes: “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.”3 At the core of all these so-called scientists and educators is the commitment to Darwinism (with its tenets of evolution and millions of years)—and unless you think I am talking about a few militant educators/writers, consider that a recent poll of the National Academy of Science shows only 7 percent of this group consider themselves believers.
Virtually every student in America who goes through public education is required to read text books written by this group. Thank God that a remnant of committed Christian educators exists in grade school, high schools, and colleges and universities. They are among those who understand the deception that can happen at all levels of education—those who take a daily stand for truth, who believe and teach that the best explanation for the existence of the universe is stated in the Bible beginning with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
This creation versus evolution/millions of years debate is as current as this morning’s newspaper. All over this land, school boards now debate with teachers and townspeople whether their schools should teach only evolution and keep creation only in the realm of what they define as religion. It is such a hot topic that during the presidential campaign season, candidates from both parties were asked their position on the topic.
The following militant atheists are the people our secular college and university students and faculty are paying attention to. What are they saying? Listen to a brief compendium of thoughts directly from their literature and you will get an idea of what we are up against:
- Dr. Francisco Ayala: “Life is the result of a natural process, without any need to resort to a Creator.”4
- Dr. William Provine: “Modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws and, when we die, we die.”5
- Dr. Steven Pinker: “Religion taught men to believe in an immortal soul, modern science has destroyed that belief.”6
- Christopher Hitchens writes “of the moral superiority of atheism.”7
- Dr. Douglas Futuyma: “By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”8
- The National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) asserted that all life is the outcome of “an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process.”9
These people consider themselves brave pioneers, teaching the truth about man’s origin and facing death and extinction with valor. They worship at the altar of Darwinian evolution. They are, I am convinced, more interested in promoting their philosophic anti-Christian agenda than a scientific one. Their agenda is very simple: get the biblical God out of the picture and replace it with a humanistic worldview (i.e., man is the ultimate authority to determine truth apart from God; Darwinism is arguably the most popular form of humanism). And they have figured out exactly how to do it. This was stated nearly 30 years ago in a magazine called The Humanist:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.10
They have made the battleground public education where they have a captive audience. They represent the ideas of a secular culture that is determined to eliminate any reference to the God of the Bible as the sovereign Creator of the universe. They know they can easily change these concepts in the culture by implanting them daily into the minds of impressionable youth—our children. And they have sadly, in large measure, succeeded.
The Body Count
Steve Henderson, president of Christian Consulting for Colleges, has researched the faith commitments of college students at evangelical and secular colleges. Read what he says:
A few years ago, George Fox University professor Gary Railsback, a fellow researcher, prepared an interesting study. Using his data, I determined that more than 52 percent of incoming freshmen who identify themselves as born-again upon entering a public university will either no longer identify themselves as born-again four years later or, even if they do still claim that identification, will not have attended any religious service in over a year. This means over half of our kids are reporting a rejection of family religious values if they attend a public university.11
A recent press release on the ongoing National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose offered some interesting information on students who are beginning their college years. While 79 percent of all freshmen believe in God, 69 percent pray, and 81 percent attend religious services at least occasionally, 57 percent question their religious beliefs, 52 percent disagree with their parents about religious matters, and 65 percent feel distant from God.12
In a revealing study, UCLA Higher Education Research Institute tracked 16,000 high school seniors from freshman days to graduation, demonstrating the impact of college choice on spiritual commitment. The 16,000 kids identified themselves as “born-again” in high school. Upon graduation, 52 percent no longer considered themselves Christian.13
College students are asking deep questions about their faith.
College students are asking deep questions about their faith. Unless they are at a solidly biblical Christian college, they may find themselves in an environment that is not conducive to providing supportive answers. Even if they are at a Christian college, our research has proven that they may be getting hit with “friendly fire,” as professors they consider to be allies attack the foundations of their faith with liberal, compromising ideas that undermine biblical authority, create doubt, and can lead to unbelief.
A March 29, 2005, Washington Post article by Howard Kurtz titled “Study Finds College Faculties a Most Liberal Lot” reports that most faculty at non- Christian colleges disdain Christianity, with 72 percent indicating they are liberal, 84 percent favoring abortion, and 67 percent indicating homosexuality is acceptable. In most cases, students reflect the values of college faculty they encounter in their upper division coursework. These faculty members are typically the advisors and mentors of students. Certainly the above findings indicate that the answers and directions students receive from most faculty at these institutions will not be supportive of traditional morality and religious values.
After sharing this study in a message in an evangelical church, I had a woman call me the following morning. She was very polite and asked if she could comment on my Sunday sermon. I had shared this study and attempted a strong advocacy for Christian higher education.
She politely suggested I might want to change my sermon. She explained I had offended her daughter by my remarks, home from a semester at a major public university. She felt I had been too hard and unreasonable in my comments about secular public education. I apologized for creating this offense but told her I honestly believed in what I said. She still suggested I moderate my comments but added as we ended our conversation, “In all honesty, I must tell you, my daughter was in church yesterday for the first time in a year.”
According to the research, this woman’s daughter is not alone. Scores of parents are spending a significant amount of their savings to pay for an education that is undercutting the foundations of Christian faith! Scores of parents are unwittingly paying the way for educators to destroy the beliefs of their children (Prov. 22:6). You have to admit, that’s pretty clever on secularists’ part—and pretty foolish on the parents’ part.
Infiltration in the Ranks
I do find, however, that students have little problem understanding that the enemies of God will stop at nothing to discredit the Scripture. What they don’t understand, though, are the numbers of Christian institutions, ministries, churches, pastors, and Christian educators who are doing the same. But in many ways, these influences are more dangerous: they are a lurking and growing enemy within our own camp. In the worst of cases, these people are wolves in sheep’s clothing, many times very intentionally leading students away from the authority of the Scriptures while posing as our friends (Matt. 7:15).
My point is this: I cannot take the position I have on secular education and not be honest about the issues related to Christian education, too. I find folks want simple explanations of what is really taught at Christian schools, and they have a right to know. I believe in the significance, importance, and eternal value of a Christ-centered education. Yet it is only honest to say that it is very, very important to be discerning when choosing Christian schools, too.
My life in Christian higher education has been amazingly fulfilling. I have met some wonderful and committed believers. I have had association with numerous outstanding Christian institutions making a difference in countless lives in expanding the kingdom. I will remain an outspoken advocate for Christian education as a tool God uses to raise up new generations of competent and caring individuals.
The spiritual well-being for many students is hindered and not enhanced while attending Christian schools.
There is, however, an issue that persists—one that needs to be addressed or some Christian institutions will find their influence diminished or, in the future, nonexistent. The issue is this: the spiritual well-being for many students is hindered and not enhanced while attending Christian schools. The church knows this and is miffed by it. Some people find it unacceptable and will encourage some of their youth to attend secular institutions as a result. Over the course of 35 years in ministry (nearly 20 as a college/university president), I have heard this issue raised over and over again, sometimes with deep contempt.
I am sure the loss of spiritual vitality of some students is a matter of personal discontent that is no fault of any institution. But some of the stories deal directly with who we are and what we do. In those cases, we must own the problem and deal with it. The Church wants and needs to be strong. It does not want to hear stories about young people whose lives are hurt by our schools instead of helped. They do not want to hear their faith was disassembled in the classroom by those who discredit the Scripture or have a view of the Christian faith that is far afield from orthodox Christian belief.
However, I do acknowledge there are still a number of faithful people, terrific scholars among them, who believe the Bible to be true in every way (these people should be encouraged and prayed for; we need more of them). I have heard other scholars say that “the Bible is true in all it affirms” (whatever that means), but they go on to say that it was never intended to be an academic text and should be trusted only in matters of faith, not matters of science. That equivocation is heresy to me, considering that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Col. 2:3, and “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16; NKJV, emphasis added).
Based on research, we find that many of today’s young people are being contaminated by the very people parents trust with their children’s spiritual training. In most cases, the students are not being prepared for the spiritual battle we observe daily in our culture.14 Sadly, they are becoming casualties of this battle—but casualties caused from those supposedly on their side of the battle. If this was a matter of a few select personal instances that would be one thing—yet still a cause for concern. However, there are far too many instances and far too many testimonies of what went spiritually wrong. This is a matter of spiritual concern for Christian institutions everywhere. The Grand Rapids Press ran a survey of colleges in Michigan recently and stated:
In a recent survey of area colleges and universities, The Press found all of the institutions that teach biology teach Darwinian evolution. Only one, Cornerstone University, questions the theory’s validity and spends significant time teaching alternative explanations. Even most of the Christian schools—Calvin, Hope, and Aquinas colleges—base their curricula on Darwin’s theory.
“Evolution is the paradigm out of which we teach biology,” said David Warners, a biology professor at Calvin. “We’re not trying to hide things; it’s just that we’re not looking for a fight.”
Notice that they say they are “not looking for a fight”; this helps reveal that they realize that what they are teaching is in opposition to the Church’s teachings! Even at the one university where evolution is questioned, some professors base their teaching on Darwin. The article continues:
Bultman notices many students enter Hope with a “creationist/intelligent design” worldview, he said, and are frustrated by the biology curriculum. Warners said there is a similar trend at Calvin, as many students begin college as strong opponents of evolutionary theory.
“It’s a challenge,” Warners said of teaching evolution, “and it needs to be done very sensitively.”15
In other words, these Christian colleges strategically take students who believe the Bible and systematically destroy that belief and teach them to believe in evolution. This is the sad state of the Church in America. No wonder we are losing the coming generations! Dr. R.C. Sproul recently sent out this warning:
The classroom is not a place where open debate is usually encouraged. To the contrary, on the campuses of many universities and even seminaries, open season has been declared on Christian students. For some reason, it seems that professors in such settings take delight in trying to undermine the faith of their students. . . . In most cases, it is easy for a man or woman with a doctorate in years of experience in higher education to humiliate a student, no matter how strong the student’s faith is or how articulate the student may be.
If you’re looking to send your children to an institution that has a Christian history or a Christian relationship, do not assume that the current faculty is fully persuaded of the truth claims of Christianity. You may indeed be throwing your children into the fire of crucible they are not expecting and are not really prepared to withstand. I am not for educating people in a sheltered environment where there is no interaction with the secular mindset and with pagan worldviews, but we need to be fully prepared to understand when and where those worldviews come into collision with Christianity and how to avoid collisions that may be disastrous.16
Is my institution free from this problem and do we exhibit perfect fidelity to all matters of Christian teaching? Frankly, no; we’ve had our issues. As with all schools, some of the criticism is fair and some of it is not. But no matter what, it’s time for all of us to do some self-evaluation, even as we do our best to discern the content and intent of others (Luke 6:41–42).
There are probably still a good number of people who think that the time-honored foundation of the Christian tradition is at the core of our educational system today. Not so. To believe this system is undergirded by biblical principles is entirely false. Not only is our educational system not based on Christian principles, but there is a growing hostility in educational circles, especially in higher education, toward all things Christian. And it all has to do with worldview. If you are not familiar with this raging battle for the minds of humanity, please turn to appendix B. It is simply imperative that you understand what is happening and how it affects our education system at all levels. For example, biologist Dr. Richard Lewontin says of science education:
The objective . . . is not to provide the public with knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star, and what genes are made of. The problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world.17
The anti-God perspective has obviously gained a foothold in our public education system. That comes as no surprise when you consider who is behind this and how militant they have become toward Christianity. Christopher Hitchens writes:
How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith? If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.18
Again, Dr. Lewontin writes:
The objective . . . is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, science as the only begetter of truth.19
Or, how about this quote from Dr. Richard Dawkins:
How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods? Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought out?20
These ideas and philosophies are the foundation of the curriculum of public education and have infiltrated Christian education at almost all levels. Your children may be captive in a system intent on discrediting Christianity. It is not surprising that this is the intent of the secularist educators. What is surprising is that so many Christian parents seem to not care.
As Christian leaders it is time to face the issue of just how committed we will be to the authority of Scripture.
The central issue is this: as Christian leaders it is time to face the issue of just how committed we will be to the authority of Scripture. It is also time to answer to the Church for this problem. It is time to realize that it is possible to hurt young minds. With vigilance we must work to put our young people in classes taught by professors who are committed believers, who even though they might require students to think and develop their own faith, will not compromise Christian truth and exchange it for a liberalism or unbelief that breaks faith instead of building it.
I pray that the tone of this book will, if needed, castigate and challenge, but also build unity and nurture the Body of Christ. I am absolutely for “hammering” both secular and Christian institutions—but doing so in a way that asks the Church to “wake up” and be the “jury” in this matter of taking responsibility for the education of our youth. We must teach both parents and students to discriminate and do so in a way that builds the Kingdom of God, not breaks it.
Where England is today spiritually (it is all but dead), the USA will be tomorrow if we keep heading in this direction. In the research we saw that our kids were already gone from the Church. Now we see it in the Christian colleges and the universities that are following in the footsteps of the Ivy League—those that are already compromised. In order to protect ourselves and our children, we must be prepared to fight in the battle of the worldviews. But in order to do that, we must be aware of where the attacks are coming from. And as you will see in the next chapter, the source of compromise is coming from a very unexpected place.