Virtual Voices

What $42,000 a year will buy

Education

Christian parents should be aware of what kind of education their kids are likely to receive at a secular college or university, and wise parents will try to prepare them before they leave the nest. But those who spend big bucks to send their children to a Christian college, presumably for a Christian education, should think twice. Even though the division between Christian and secular at some institutions has blurred, it's reasonable to expect a few standards at a denominational college.

Or maybe not. Gustavus Adolphus College (named for the Lutheran king of Sweden who defended Protestantism in the Thirty Years' War) in St. Peter, Minn., is chartered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, which long ago stopped taking Scripture seriously. What their grandfathers learned as higher criticism, their children and grandchildren interpret as "anything goes." During a freshman-orientation program called "The Inside Scoop," upperclassmen PAs (peer assistants) perform "humorous" skits designed to put the kids at ease about their sexuality and religious doubts (those are OK) while confronting their biases (not OK). For this year's Scoop, the PAs performed a rhyme about various forms of sexual expression and celebrated a young man's "coming out" as an atheist. (Caution: the video clip below is not graphic, but it's chalk-squeakingly irritating.)

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What's noteworthy is not the content of the program but its banality. Students are encouraged to speak up against bigotry, enjoy their sexuality, and celebrate their diversity as if they'd grown up next door to Beaver Cleaver. The children of a denomination that accepted and even ordained (as a deacon) the late-term abortionist George Tiller probably don't need lectures against Scriptural norms. They need to be challenged, but the skits and testimonials meant to challenge them are glib, repetitive, and dull, as though college hasn't nurtured one original thought since 1969.

The students of the 1960s have grown up. Sort of. But they haven't caught up. Christian churches and colleges that try to be "relevant" will always find themselves behind the curve, spouting tired platitudes about everybody getting along, never addressing the issue of why people can't get along.

That's what real Christianity does. That's the real radicalism. When history is finally revealed, the church militant will be out front, and the church irrelevant will be bringing up the rear.

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.

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