Join the Revolution
The Battle for Hearts and Minds in College
Family North Carolina MagazineNovember/December 2008
by Brittany Farrell, Courtney Gravley, Morgan Early, and Anna Beavon Gravely
The following article contains the opinions and experiences of four North Carolina Family Policy Council employees who have either recently graduated or are currently attending college. We are pleased to share their insights concerning the Christian life on three different college campuses.
Despite what your college professors may be telling you, the world is black and white; good and evil do exist beyond Batman’s Gotham; and Truth does not change. This is the basic foundation of the Christian worldview. Truth is objective and reflective of our unchanging God. Developing, maintaining, and living this Christian worldview is especially difficult on college campuses.
What Is a Worldview?
There are a nearly infinite number of worldviews, each of which is the big picture that shapes individual decisions and actions. A worldview can be compared to a pair of glasses through which we see the world. The type of lens (i.e., our experiences and presuppositions) in the glasses effects what we see.
Each of our unique views of the world is shaped by our upbringing and life experiences, whether we recognize it or not. As we mature, we need to take full possession of our worldview. Those do not acknowledge it often find themselves shaped by it rather than them actively shaping it. The perspective, beliefs, and value judgments that constitute a worldview define the choices its holder will make.
In a lifetime, we will each encounter worldviews both nearly identical toand diametrically opposed toour own. As Christians, we are called to formulate that view of the world based on biblical principles. According to Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey, a Christian worldview stems from the central belief that “God’s revelation is the source of all truth.”1 A worldview grounded in Christ stands apart from other worldviews because it is absolute.
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. (Eph. 4:14)
Why a Christian Worldview Is Necessary in College
Regardless of whether you choose to attend the Blessed Bubble, Diversity U, Feminist Central, or any other institution of higher learning, that experience will entail questioning questioning of history, philosophy, literature, morality, religion, science, authority, and most especially truth. The types of questions you ask and the answers you seek will be heavily influenced by the worldview you possess. On the vast majority of college and university campuses, the knowledge that is sought and presented is based on secularism, which seeks to exclude any religious considerations.2 For this reason, Christian minds and hearts must be well-formed so as to maneuver this environment of intellectual and spiritual landmines. Since Truth exists regardless of whether or not we recognize it, it is best to accept it so that our worldview will correspond to the way things really are.
We live in a world of instant gratification satellite radio, iPods, DVR, cell phones, email, blackberries, laptops, fast food, cable TV, credit cards, digital cameras, and a myriad of other conveniences. There is no room for patience, sacrifice, or redemptive suffering in that mindset. However, suffering and sacrifice exist in the world, and the gospel offers an understandable reason for it. There is something greater than this world, and a Christian worldview makes judgments and decisions on a much more permanent and eternal set of values and goals than the temporal values of this world. The Christian worldview calls us to patience, sacrifice, and fortitude, which is appropriate because all of those are necessary to sustain that worldview in today’s college environment.
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)
What They Will Say
Being a Christian in college is difficult. Christianity goes against the grain. Maintaining an understanding of the world as mostly black and white is difficult because much of the college world prides itself on being a morally grey area.
There will be comrades in the battle against subjective relativism. Likely, though, there will be many more enemies to Truth, both vocal and silent. At its heart, the battle on college campuses today is a spiritual one. Satan is in a battle for souls, and we are called to be soldiers of heaven who are equipped with knowledge of the Truth. From textbooks to professors to student organizations to campus policies, secularism reigns supreme. In the mainstream college ideology, the power of science and “enlightenment” trumps that of the divine Creator. Distorted versions of diversity and equality are gospel. Ethics and morality are whatever you want them to be. Disagreement with the liberal agenda is labeled as intolerance and unworthy of First Amendment protections. The Bible is not a legitimate source. Christians and conservatives are considered ignorant, bigoted, narrow-minded, prudish, selfish, and hypocritical. Nothing is absolute except that nothing is absolute. Historical revisionism is everywhere.
Standing up for Christ is a difficult task and not for the faint of heart. Do not be fooled. Be prepared to see students paying lip service to the Christian worldview, while living lives far from it in the evenings and on weekends. The college experience has been perpetuated as a “period of self-discovery” in a subjective world of comfort and political correctness, all striving for a life of secular materialism. This is not the way of Christ. This is the lie of the world. Reject it!
If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)
The Battle Plan
Knowledge of God through Scripture and a relationship with him through prayer is integral. his truth cannot transform you until you know His truth. Developing a worldview is not a onestep process, nor is it static. This formation requires an intentional aspect of active participation in discovery and development. As life changes, so too may an individual’s perspective and priorities. The key is to have the tools and foundation in place to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate life according to God’s truth. Remember that you do not make or define the Christian worldview. It is absolute truth. Your worldview truly becomes your own when you not only have a desire to, but are able to, defend and profess it confidently.
This secular world inundates you with immorality, half-truths, outright lies, evil, degradation of the human person, excess, and a humanistic pursuit of temporal pleasure, meaning nothing is more important than keeping your strength spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
Spiritual Support: Spiritual battle requires spiritual aid and renewal. Sleeping in on Sunday morning satisfies a temporary need, but getting involved in the church can impact your life forever. Christians are, by God’s grace, part of the body of Christ. Embrace the blessings that a church community brings. Take advantage of the support, rejuvenation, knowledge, and opportunities to serve that are made available through the church. Join a campus Bible study to attend regularly in addition to Sunday church service. A good Bible study group can provide much-needed Christian friendships that will strengthen your worldview and your soul.
Develop a personal relationship with Christ. He is best able to relate to the difficulties and joys you will experience. Pray for your friends, fellow students, and professors and that the Lord will give you opportunities to be bold about your faith.
Relational Support: Surround yourself with strong like-minded friends. The opinions and views of your friends are going to rub off on you whether you like it or not. Find friends you can have important conversations with and who will help you grow in your commitment and journey towards eternal life with Christ. Church, religious organizations, and conservative student groups are all good places to start forming a circle of people with a similar worldview, who are also facing the same challenges.
Find professors who understand and teach the importance of Truth. Their experience in an organic campus environment can give you perspective and hope in a sometimes frighteningly dark world. Ask other students for suggestions on professors to seek out. Browse professor websites for an indication of their worldview through the courses they teach, the readings they assign, and the other activities in which they are involved.
Study Scripture. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!”3 God’s Word is the roadmap for a Christian worldview; it is the most direct source for what a Christian worldview is and how to live more like Christ. Just as you study for a history test by reading a history book, study for a Christian life by reading Christ’s teachings in the Bible. The more you understand the history, teachings, reasons, and results of a Christian worldview, the more effective you will be in living, defending, and promoting it.
As you work to develop a Christian worldview, learn how to defend and promote it effectively. This will help you further reinforce and refine your worldview. There is a delicacy in presenting arguments from the perspective of a Christian worldview in both a Christian manner and in a way that is understandable and appealing to those who do not have or respect this worldview. Genuine interest in an opposing viewpoint can lead to a more productive, less argumentative discussion. To be an effective defender and promoter of the Christian worldview, you must be able to explain what it is, where it comes from, and why it makes the judgments it makes. An ill-conceived or ignorant adherence turns others off to the truth promoted by the Christian worldview. Study those you consider to be wise Christians throughout history and in the present day. Practice sharing and defending your faith with others.
After you are prepared, then meet people where they are. Not everyone starts with the same premises. Be aware of the assumptions that both you and others bring to a discussion. Using overtly Christian language may result in some people completely tuning you out regardless of the logic and clarity in your argument. In these cases, discerning the premises of the other person can help you to formulate your point in a new way that keeps a healthy discourse going. Consider avoiding “Christian lingo” not because you are ashamed of Christ as the center of your worldview, but because so often the discourse in the classroom, quad, cafeteria, or dorm lacks a common foundation for all participants. By not assuming that others ascribe to the same premises of the Christian faith, it is sometimes possible to make more progress in discussions. Ask nonbelievers questions about their lives and beliefs so that you can tailor your approach to the individual. Ask thoughtful questions instead of putting the other person on the defensive by making accusations. Often stereotypes and misunderstandings are clarified by simply asking the right questions without even having to make any statements.
Join the revolution against secular subjectivism. Too many Christians are followers, and not always followers of Christ. Stand for Truth in the midst of lies and pray to be light in the darkness. Shout the gospel from the rooftops, as St. Charles de Foucauld said, and, not with words, but with your life.4 Actions often speak louder than words. People watch us constantly. Absolute truth requires us to be accountable for our actions and calls us to better and higher things.
This battle on college campuses is a spiritual battle in desperate need of leaders. To whom much is given, much will be expected. Lead by example. Share Truth! Share it often. Share it boldly. Speak and write from a Christian worldview. Oppose campus activities that are contrary and damaging to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Forge relationships with believers and non-believers alike. Encourage others to join the fight. Remember, an effective leader must know and understand the battle and be able to defend it well. This is why knowledge is so important. Just as important, though, is maintaining a spirit of honesty and charity. Admit mistakes. Correct misinformation. Disagree respectfully.
However, it is important to recognize that we each have our own strengths and not everyone is called to charge into the enemy camp with banner waving. Be a leader among your peers over dinner conversation or in the way you dress or the words you choose to use. If you are a quiet person, embrace that. Your words can be even more powerful because you are a new fresh voice. The rarity of your input shows that this must be important if you are speaking out for it. You do not have to be quoted in the newspaper or organize protests to be a soldier in the effort to spread God’s kingdom here on earth, but when the gospel is at stake, speak up.
Stay prepared and informed. Never stop thinking. Do not let your guard down. Moral “greyness” is always lurking in the distance. Know your limitations. Accept that it is okay to not always have the answer. Seek out answers you do not know. There are many battles to be fought. Do not expect to win all of them and do not be discouraged.
Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12)
The Good News
You are not alone. The Body of Christ has many parts and is stronger as a unit. You have no idea what impact you can have for the Gospel while you are in college. Christ is victorious! Some battles on college campuses will inevitably be lost, but we already know who wins the war. God will be victorious in the end. In the midst of these battles, you are planting seeds that, God willing, will grow and bear fruit.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57)
- Colson, Charles and Nancy Pearcey. How Now Shall We Live? Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1999.
- “Secularism.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.
- Jerome's Prologue to the “Commentary on Isaiah”: PL 24,17
- Roberty Ellsberg, ed. Charles de Foucauld: Selected Writings. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999.
Brittany Farrell is a research associate, Courtney Gravley is the communications manager, Morgan Early was a communications assistant, and Anna Beavon Gravely is an intern with the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.