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God and woman at Patrick Henry

"God and woman at Patrick Henry" Continued...

Issue: "A mighty fortress is our sect," Oct. 20, 2007

One strength of God's Harvard lies in its striking profiles of some PHC students who break down liberal stereotypes of cookie-cutter evangelical students. Rosin describes one student as "funny . . . adventurous . . . a terrific writer . . . an astute judge of character with an introspective side. Sometimes in the mornings I'd find her upstairs in her bed, reading her Bible and taking notes. 'If they're all like this,' one of my friends said, 'we're in trouble.'"

One weakness, but it's an honest weakness, is Rosin's determination not to be moved from her current positions: "Much as I marveled at the Patrick Henry students, I doubted that any of them-not even the most rebellious of the campus rebels, not even the least conservative kid there-would ever moderate their views enough to win my vote-not for president, congressman, or even city councilman. . . . I remained constitutionally incapable of the modern conservative Christian's brand of certainty."

God's Harvard usefully raises questions about both curriculum and organization. Some Christian academic leaders look upon liberal arts study as useful for gleaning "common grace" insights from non-Christians, and others as a way to discover the weak points of secularistic culture. Organizationally, new Christian colleges often grow out of the vision and determination of skilled social entrepreneurs like PHC's Michael Farris-but such individual leadership clashes with professorial culture.

Rosin describes PHC as an experimental community and notes that these "almost always implode. One faction wants to hold on to the purest version of the mission while another begs for a little fresh air." But PHC seems to have rebounded from the trauma of spring 2006, and other colleges may be able to avoid civil war if the factions within them recognize that they are made up of arms, legs, heads, and trunks, each-as Paul in his day wrote to the Corinthians-essential to the body.

One irony in Rosin's title, God's Harvard, is that the founders of the real Harvard (and the founders of Yale, Princeton, and many other schools) viewed their creation as belonging to God. Those institutions all headed down a slippery slope, and one challenge for administrators and professors of God's new colleges is to keep history from repeating itself.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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