A pair of articles on the question of whether to send one’s child to a secular or to a Christian college here and here and discussed further here has recently captured my attention. My eldest son is a high school senior and this decision is imminent for him, so I’m always on the lookout for materials to send his way. I didn’t bother to send him either of these. Here’s why:
- I was stunned to find both articles operating from the premise that “Christian young persons…[may] turn their back on their faith” and “lose their faith.” Newsflash: if your son has no faith at the end of college, then he had no faith when he started—he was just pretending. Now one’s college experience may impel a young man to stop pretending he is a Christian (which is arguably a good thing) or, conversely may function as the crucible in which the Spirit grants him faith, but one’s college experience can never take away one’s faith.
- Neither article mentioned anything of substance about the role of the local church in cultivating the college student’s faith. Both articles made much of professors, families, peers, and campus-based ministries in alternately advancing/damaging the faith and conduct of young believers, but the church was surprisingly under-represented. I was stunned once again to discover both articles operating from the premise that the church ceases to function during the college years as one of the “ordinary means of grace.” Instead, the responsibility of guarding souls shifts to parents, para-church organizations, and professors that function ad hoc in an en loca ekklesia role.
Honestly, the jury is still out on where my son will go to college. But this I know. He will be very well informed about the nature/permanence of saving faith and of the primacy of the local church as a principle venue of sanctifying grace.
[Update: Parker Reardon had a helpful blog post this morning that develops point (1) above nicely.]