15 July 2010

Answering Liberty University Students

I was reading Tom Chantry on the CRBC Pastoral blog, something I recommend you do to as the man writes well, cuts to the heart of matters and shows godly wisdom and discernment. I say this though he criticized Stephen Ambrose and shattered my world. What can I say? The truth hurts.... and I still like Band of Brothers.... but now take Ambrose's history with a grain of salt. Anyway, one of the comments on the particular article I linked to first has a question that I want to answer here on my blog. I have used cut and paste to bring the question here as I found it: "What can we as students at LU do to speak out on this issue?Should we write a letter to Jerry Falwell, Jr.? Should we as students speak out publically? Or should we remain quiet?"

OK... here I go again! I love students. I had the pleasure of working with students at a Christian University. I had no idea after a career in public safety, one that I loved and was forced to leave due to injury, that there was another job I could love more. I cannot believe I was paid to be blessed the way I was. I still have contact with many of the students I worked with and some of them are adopted extended family. I am going to answer the question above the way I would answer one of my students.

Paul told Timothy this: "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1Tim 1:5 NAS) I maintain that should be the heartbeat of every institution of higher learning that purports to be Christian. As I have said before the point of any education is to learn the difference between right and wrong. That's hard for Christians to do in secular institutions and so many students will choose to go to a Christian college or university. The point of attending a Christian college or university is to receive a biblical education, or at least it should be. Sadly most of these institutions are run as businesses and not ministries. Enrollment means life to a school. Lack of enrollment means slow, painful death. Therefore, there is often some dissonance between student expectations of receiving sound biblical training and an education from a biblical perspective with what actually motivates the learning institution's administrators when they select faculty and set curriculum.

Having served at my university as the Student Development representative for the accreditation and assessment committee, I am very aware of the tangle of agendas between the accreditation boards and Christian colleges and universities. If the college or university is dependent on federal funds, i.e. student loans and grants....when push comes to shove, the accreditation board will win. Since the major accreditation boards are secular organizations that means there will eventually be a compromise of biblical standards. When you combine the need for enrollment with the necessity of accreditation to keep federal funds you have the perfect storm for an integrity crisis of biblical proportions. That is not to say that all Christian colleges give in to the accreditation boards, some my willingly drop a particular major instead of compromising their integrity. Some will walk a razors edge to try and keep both. Some will willingly give up their accreditation. The whole controversy between accredited and non accredited colleges and universities is another post all together... I bring this up only to show that there is a motivation beyond what most people realize when it comes to faculty and curriculum choices.

Students at LU or any Christian college/university need to ask themselves why they are there. Did you decide to matriculate there because you had an expectation of being taught by men and women of God who were going to train you up to be a man or woman of God with a degree or skills in a particular area? Did you decide to go there because it was the way mom and dad would agree to pay for your education? Did you decide to go there because they had the best program for your particular area of interest? What precisely was your motivation and what were/are your expectations?

If you are not in agreement with the way the LU has handled the Caner scandal, do you have the right to make your displeasure known? If you can do so keeping your integrity intact, absolutely! Once your heart and motivations are right before God you have many options. You should consider though that just voicing your concerns may paste a target on your back. I would like to think it would not but I am not that naive or stupid. At any rate, I probably wouldn't start out by standing on a soap box and making accusations. How you go about voicing your opposition will expose your true agenda. You may feel led to speak to folks. I would start out by asking questions. A well crafted question will give you the information you are looking for and expose your concerns. Department chairs, the board of trustees, presidents, provosts, deans- none of these people should dismiss the concerns of a student. If they are really there to educate they will welcome the chance to speak to you even if it is an uncomfortable situation. Of course this may not be what you decide to do. You may be led to transfer, either after writing a letter voicing your concerns or by quietly going to another school. You may decide to finish your degree quietly, having invested too much time and money to make a transfer economically feasible for you.

Whatever your choice, make certain that your conscience is clear and that your agenda is a godly one. Think about your expectations and motivations and be aware of the potential motivating factors for LU. I guarantee you, not all the administrators, faculty and staff are willing to compromise their integrity before God. There are men and women of God there who want nothing more than to help you make your way through this dilemma in a God honoring fashion. There are undoubtedly going to be some men and women there who sadly, will not. Ask God for discernment and wisdom. He loves to give those gifts to His children. There are men and women praying for you.

Most of all, learn the importance of your words and testimony. I have been reminded more than once to watch my tongue as a result of this situation and have had to repent for words typed, spoken and thought.


James 1:5
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Proverbs 9:1-10
1 Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars;
2 She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table;
3 She has sent out her maidens, she calls from the tops of the heights of the city:
4 "Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!" To him who lacks understanding she says,
5 "Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 "Forsake {your} folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding."
7 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man {gets} insults for himself.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you, reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give {instruction} to a wise man, and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man, and he will increase {his} learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(NAS)

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