It might be easy to read what I wrote on Wednesday and assume that all secular colleges must be avoided. I do know some people who actually might hold to that position, but I actually do not. Yes, I do feel that it is difficult to teach ethics if you want to hold to a relativistic worldview. I do think a Christian education provides a comprehensive worldview that you cannot get from a secular humanist worldview or really any other worldview. In that sense, I do think Christian education is a wonderful thing.
However, I do not believe that secular institutions need to be absolutely avoided. Yes, as a Christian, you need to know what you believe, but by virtue of being a Christian, you should be able to articulate that reason anyway.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV).
Certainly, going to a secular college might challenge your faith in certain ways that going to a “safer” Christian college might not. You might experience different pressures that might not be as obvious or acceptable at a Christian university. You might encounter ideas taught in the classroom that are not consistent with your Christian faith.
I fully get that all of these things might happen at a secular university.
However, Jesus Christ told us to go into all the world and make disciples.
We certainly shouldn’t avoid secular universities for that reason alone. If that was sufficient reason for avoiding a secular university, then no missionary would ever go to the African village where he or she might be the only Christian in the village.
However, think about this particular missionary. He or she is going to this village presumably based upon a calling. God has laid a particular mission on this person’s heart, and it is important to do what God has called us to do. It is not something that is flippantly done.
Therefore, when considering universities, I would encourage Christian young people to seriously consider where they have been called. It is a major life decision that should be prayerfully thought through. For some, a Christian university might be exactly right for them. For others, a secular university might be where he or she feels called. I don’t want to limit where God can call a person because I don’t think that limit exists. God called Jonah to Nineveh after all.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I do think that God used a secular university to strengthen my faith. I encountered ideas that challenged my faith, but I did my homework, and I found out that Christianity provides answers. I was pressured, but God used that pressure to help develop me into a more engaged Christian. In fact, He used this experience to spark my interest in apologetics which led me down the academic path I am currently following.
As a result, please do not take what I have written as a blanket, outright condemnation of any non-Christian university. That is entirely untrue. Rather, take this as a word of advice that we need to pay attention to God’s call. If He calls you to a particular university, don’t stop listening to God once you get there. We will not be wrong if we are in the will of God, but from experience, we all can agree that wandering from that path creates problems.