Saturday, June 22, 2013

Do Universities Erode Christian Faith? New Insights into an Old Question

One of the "narratives" commonly told in our Christian culture is the story of how secular universities destroy the faith of many young Christians. It is a fascinating question that should not be answered to quickly or with too simple of an answer.

For many individuals (including myself, my wife, all four of our now adult children and their spouses, well, at least for the three now married, one's yet to marry), the college years at state universities provided a time of significant growth and development in the Christian faith. Forty plus years of involvement in campus ministry has demonstrated that it does not have to have an adverse effect.

But there is more to the story than my personal experience.Sociology confirms it.

Earlier this spring, I had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Christian Smith, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame, speak on the sociological data regarding this question. Fascinating results.  Though I took notes, my ability to keep up with the speed of the presentation limited their value in reproduction.

However, now Glenn T. Stanton has done the favor of reproducing some of the findings on a Gospel Coalition blog: FactChecker: Does College Cause Young adults to Lose Their Fatih?

It turns out, that not going to college is more detrimental than going to a secular university. In fact, attending statistically results in more students identifying a strengthening of their faith vs a decline.

One of the reasons for the trend: the "increase in presence and effectiveness of campus-based ministries like Campus Crusade, InterVarsity, and Young Life."

Well that is an encouraging finding for those of us who have invested lives in campus ministry.

Thank you, Lord!

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