I have survived the first week of classes (my schedule leaves Fridays free of lecturing), as have my students — one down, sixteen to go. I’ve got a fairly heavy load this term, with a brand new introductory biology course (with 84 freshman students!) and a neurobiology course for more advanced students, so it’s going to be a long hard slog, I can tell. Pity those poor students, though — thrown right into the lion’s den. Ask Billy Graham, he knows.
Q. I’m headed for college in a few weeks, and as a Christian I’m wondering what to expect. Some people say that my faith will be attacked there, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Do you have any advice for me?
The most important advice I can give you is to keep your eyes on Christ, and not let yourself be turned away from him. Satan will do everything he can to turn you away from Christ, but don’t give in to his pressures. God’s Word says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
In what ways might your faith be attacked? One way, of course, will be by those who don’t believe in Christ, and may actually mock the gospel or attack it. And this won’t happen only in the classroom; some of your fellow students may be even more scornful of the gospel than the occasional atheistic professor. But even if you can’t answer all their questions, they aren’t the first ones to raise them, and scholarly Christians have provided answers. Your local Christian bookstore can help you find them.
Poor gospel, all mocked and attacked. This is pretty poor faith, though, that it cannot abide mere mockery.
Billy is wrong about the classroom, though. I seem to have a reputation as a meany-headed atheist, and I’ve got this loud and well-known website that mocks the faith pretty regularly, but I make a loud, clear disclaimer on the first day of class (I have to, because of the well-known godless liberal stuff): no student will be judged on the basis of their political or religious views. Biology 1111 is all about the biology, nothing else. They won’t get mocked or attacked in my classroom, but they will get confronted with the evidence and the real world, which people like Graham mistake for an attack. I’m afraid, though, that when the stars in the sky and the creeping things in the grass are mocking your faith by their existence, then perhaps it’s a time to give up on the faith.
The students are going to be more open in their criticism (remember, CASH pizza party at 7 tonight!), and perhaps it is a most telling strike against faith that young people can look at those scholarly Christians and see right through them — they don’t provide the answers.
But many students from a Christian background turn their backs on Christ in college not because of some intellectual challenge to their faith, but because of social pressure — the pressure to live like everyone else.
Don’t let this happen to you, but ask God to lead you to other Christians on your campus who can encourage you and be your friends. The Bible says, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Oh, Billy … you are delusional in so many ways. Christianity is in the overwhelming majority in this country: the peer pressure is all driving students into the fold, not away from it. The institutional structures do likewise — our local churches, little places in out-of-the-way podunk Morris, have paid youth ministers who have the job of applying pressure to our students. They turn their backs on Christ because they realize there is no Christ, there are only old men with a vested interest in disallowing doubt, who profit mightily from a false authority taken from old superstitions.
I think it will take only a few godless students showing faith, love, and peace in the absence of any gods to demonstrate that god and his priests are not a necessary part of living a good life. That’s what will shake the faith—that’s what will lead these young men and women to greater wisdom.
I’m realistic. It won’t be an old geezer like me lecturing at them — I have a hard enough time leading them to comprehension of the process of meiosis — and what Billy Graham and his acolytes must really fear is the growing demonstration of their utter irrelevancy by people who live well without them.