Faith on Campus: Is it
Courtesy of BreakPoint Online
with Charles Colson
Do you think college today is a faith-friendly place? That
university culture is free of anti-Christian bias? That your child's
teachers are pure seekers of truth with no axes to grind?
If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. As J. Budziszewski
explains in his wonderful new book Ask Me Anything: Provocative
Answers for College Students, it's still possible to learn
something at college, but professors don’t always cooperate.
He ought to know. Budziszewski is a tenured professor of government
and philosophy in the University of Texas at Austin. And he's
also a Christian.
A female student who wanted to be a missionary e-mailed Budziszewski
to say that although her anthropology professor was kind and gentlemanly
when discussing non-Christian religions, he suddenly turned harsh
and vulgar when the subject turned to Christianity. To defend
his hostility, he said that no one possesses religious truth,
that every culture has value and should be judged by its own standards,
and that missionaries force their religious beliefs down the throats
of other cultures. The young woman wanted to stand up to him but
didn't know how.
Budziszewski has the answers. When the professor says, "No
one knows the truth about religion," the young woman might
respond, "Professor, if no one knows the truth about religion,
then how can you say that your own claim about religion is true?
It’s like the Liar's Paradox, where a man says, 'The statement
I am making is a lie.' If his statement is true, then it can't
be true, because he just said it's a lie. If his statement is
false, then it's true, but only because he's lying."
When the professor says, "Every culture should be judged
by its own standards," the student might respond, "Professor,
whose culture says that we ought to judge every culture by its
own standards? Isn't it your culture that says so—the culture
of relativist university teachers? So when you demand that every
other culture accept your culture's standard, aren't you violating
your principle that every culture ought to be judged by its own
And when the professor says, "Missionaries force their religious
beliefs down the throats of other cultures," the young woman
might respond, "Professor, you say that every culture has
value, and we should judge it by its own standards. If so, why
do you make an exception for the culture of Christianity? Doesn't
it also have value, and shouldn't we judge it by its own standards?
In that case, I don't understand why you're so harsh on Christian
These are only a few of the tough questions Budziszewski tackles.
He has others that students might indeed ask themselves during
their time at college. For example, "If I was brought up
by my parents to believe in Jesus Christ, does that mean my faith
is merely arbitrary?"; "How can the Christian ideal
of faith answer the postmodernist ideal of suspicion?"; and,
"If I treat the Church like a consumer product on Sunday
mornings, what am I missing?"
Remember, college lasts only four years, but the decisions we
make in this life last for eternity.
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President
Mark Earley. It first aired on December 2, 2004. It is reprinted
with permission of BreakPoint Online.
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