Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why Choose a Christian University?

One of our ExCo wrote to Biola University and received the following about Christian Universities from President Barry H. Corey. It was available at the recent school college fair, but in case you missed it, we've put it here for your reference.

Why Choose a Christian University?

When considering which university to attend, high school students and their parents should think not only about how a university teaches students and equips them with facts and knowledge, but also about how a university grows a student and enriches their soul. Sadly, many universities in America and across the world have lost their “soul” and drifted away from moral and religious concerns. Many colleges have abandoned their Christian roots or shunned faith altogether, replacing it with aggressive secularism and a sometimes antagonistic prejudice against the role of belief in education.

Christian universities do still exist, however, and their insistence on a robust integration of faith and academic learning provides an important alternative in the contemporary landscape of higher education. At a Christian university you will find top-notch training in a variety of disciplines — science, health, math, art, music, language, business, etc. — that is coupled with and informed by the pursuit of God and the study of Scripture.

At Biola University, where I work, we believe that nurturing the soul and nurturing the mind are both essential for a meaningful education. We teach our students to integrate their faith with their academic and professional development. No matter what their career aspiration or major, each student at Biola receives a foundational education in Bible — taught by some of the brightest biblical scholars today. We believe that the Bible is the center of knowledge, and that out of this focused center we are better able to produce graduates who are prepared for a vocation, spiritually mature, grounded in the Bible, globally minded, and ready to take on the challenges of the world.

Trends in American Universities

One trend in American higher education that all universities are dealing with right now is the challenge of adapting to the digital revolution. The Internet and other digital technologies have changed everything in culture, including higher education, and universities have been presented with new problems and possibilities as a result. At Biola University, we have prioritized the leveraging of new technology for the purposes of our mission. For example, we have started offering numerous online courses to our students, and we’ve put select courses and lectures on iTunes U, where people across the world can download free Biola University educational resources. Our seminary, Talbot School of Theology, has also started a faculty blog — The Good Book Blog — to provide solid biblical scholarship online to anyone in the world. In coming years, Biola has plans to organize even more of our academic resources to make available to the world beyond our campus borders.

Another, more regrettable trend in American universities is the trend of hyper-fragmentation. American universities are increasingly characterized by fragmentary interest groups and hyper-specialized disciplines, each with their own focuses and agendas. The “uni” aspect of the university is increasingly lost. At many universities, there is no consensus about the end goal of education or what exactly a successful college graduate should look like. Part of the confusion comes from the postmodern attack on the very notion of a unifying ideal, and part of it comes from a resistance to any suggestion that a conviction, ethic, or moral foundation should inform education.

Christian universities like Biola fight against this fragmentation by focusing everything we do around a core conviction — in this case, the all-encompassing conviction that God is the author of all truth and that all knowledge comes from him. The liberal arts education at Biola is not fragmentary; it’s interdisciplinary. It is an education that gives students a reason for learning and a foundation upon which to expand their horizons and explore their vocational purpose. It’s an education that believes in the relevance of a Christian worldview and seeks to apply it to all areas of life.

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