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[244] Diversity at the Christian College

Christian colleges continue to struggle in attracting African-Americans and Hispanics.  There are more than a few reasons for this.  One is that these colleges draw a huge slice of their students from white evangelical churches, who by the way, are woefully behind the national population in diversity.

The colleges cannot change that.

There are things they can do.  They all involve a commitment to cultural diversity.  The key word here is cultural.  I am not talking about adding a black or Hispanic faculty member here or there, or another vice president of this or that.  This is ornamentation. A black or Hispanic student is not going to say, “Oh wow, I met this black professor.  This is the place for me.”

It goes much deeper.  Christian colleges need to examine every aspect of their culture.  Here are just a few questions for them to consider.  (Evangelical churches would also do well to adapt some of the following.)

–Do African-American or Hispanics consistently hear their sound in the music on the campus?  At least in chapel?

–Is there black and Hispanic art prevalent on the campus?

–What about the food in the cafeteria—is there diversity there?  In the campus union?

–Does the school recognize MLK Day and Hispanic holidays?

–Is there diversity among guest speakers?

–Are there courses that engage diversity?

–Are members of these groups adequately represented on student governing groups?

–Does the school have an ongoing committee whose task it is to advance diversity?

You will find many Christian colleges that cannot answer in the affirmative to any of these.  In short, they are failing to create an environment in which minorities feel at home. 

It’s not about a few more African-American and Hispanic faces in the faculty and the staff any more than that the basketball coach is a minority.  It is about an entire environment—an ethos.

Don’t try to rework diversity with white people at the throttle.  Looking at the environment through a white worldview is what has created the problem.  Call in Christian minorities who will be candid.  They are out there.  They will be willing to help.  Some are on the campus now—students.

Addressing the need for cultural diversity is a very important step.  It is not only an affirmation of the old Sunday School song, “Red and yellow, black and white; all are precious in his sight.”  It is a huge stride toward providing a genuinely relevant Christian education.  DC

[244] It’s Coming

If any good can possibly come out of the attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka, leaving over 300 dead and the assault on the California synagogue, I hope it will be to heighten the awareness of the rising tide of religious persecution around the world, including in the United States.

There is more persecution of Christians today than ever before.  It’s coming here.  In fact it is already here–visible if you have your eyes open.

Here are some global facts:  One of 9 Christians experience persecution.  Each month 345 people are killed for faith-based reasons.  Each month, 105 churches or Christian buildings are burned or attacked.

We live in a flood of noise–information, data, facts, and non-facts.  Some of it comes from Christian sources. Yet you rarely hear a snippet—not even in our churches–about how badly our Christian brothers and sisters are treated around the world—or even here.  How they are being murdered.

The Christian-friendly media ripped into Obama and Hillary for statements denouncing the Sri Lanka attacks, using the term “Easter worshippers” rather than “Christians.”  What about the Christian media, the churches, the Christian colleges, and other sources of news for Christians?  Where are these people?

American Christendom remains blind and docile.  Subtle (and not-so-subtle) persecution of Christians is rampant in the United States.  Once acknowledged as a “Christian country,” in many settings it is now no longer politically correct to identify oneself as a Christian.  Not in Hollywood, not in the mainstream media, not on the talk shows, and not in the world of secular politics.

The secular progressives are hard at work in driving any mention of God out of the public discourse.  Out of the schools.  Out of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Off our coinage.  They are using the laws to do it.  And it is working.  Yet I almost never hear a sermon on this.

Remember that long ago slogan, “Take back our country for Christ”?  How archaic!  About as contemporary as leisure suits.  We are nowhere near taking.  We have been largely taken.  Our country is slowly being placed under the dominion of secular-progressivism in all things.  Sri Lanka and the attack in California should awaken us to that. DC

[243] Evangelism II

Recently I used this space to discuss the absence of evangelism among biblical Christians?  Two points were made—the secularization of the larger culture, and an absence of sermons on the afterlife.

The second one begs the question: Why.

A recently published poll indicated that a sizable slice of pastors—over 30% (if memory serves)—fear saying anything that may generate what we now call “pushback” from their congregations. In short, they do not want the gospel to be a stumbling block—which, of course, is exactly what it is.  Think about that.  One-third want to shape their message to the appetites of their parishioners, rather than have their parishioners be shaped by their message.

Might that be true among campus pastors as well?

Among many larger churches—those with big websites and lots of visitors–we hear the “searcher” copout.  “We want to appeal to those who are searching, questioning whether they want to accept Christ.”  There are plenty of faith crises among Christian college students, placing many of them in this category.  Apparently, telling those spiritual wanderers their eternal security hangs on their relationship with Christ may be a put-off—particularly in a postmodern (truth is personal not factual) culture in which claims to exclusive truth are rejected as intolerance.

Do you think Paul would be muzzled by that?  And while we’re at it, is not the eternal dichotomy very much a part of the whole counsel of God?  Further, might not a more fearless rendering of spiritual truth be exactly what the searchers need to hear?  Might not it be wiser to spell out the truth in love and trust the Holy Spirit to apply the words than juke around the entire subject?

But there may be another, more disturbing reason: a creeping universalism among evangelicals, including pastors.  We are in an era of analytics, even in Christian circles.  Polls indicate a strong strain of postmodernism and its concomitant universalism among believers.

I have no idea if this latter reason contributes to the absence of afterlife preaching.  I hope it does not.  But until I hear a lot more such preaching, I will be wondering.


[243] The Side Door

We have been deluged with news of celebrities and other well-heeled citizens buying their children’s way into elite universities.  In short, instead of having their offspring earn their way into the front door of these august institutions–via test scores, grades, and other conventional criteria–they have been writing checks to strategically-placed university personnel who can slip their unqualified prospective students though the side door.

Their devious machinations have been ingenious–bribing coaches in non-revenue sports to enter their children’s names as athletic recruits and sliding them past the admissions people.  On the surface, everybody wins.  The kids get into the elite institutions, the coaches get some welcome extra cash, and the parents are assured they have given their already privileged adolescents every advantage possible.

Not exactly.

Clearly these academic institutions are being compromised, and some more worthy would-be freshmen’s places are taken by outliers.  But there is another, more concerning matter to consider.

These parents have criminalized not only themselves, but they have tainted their children by making them part of an illegal scheme—children, who in many cases, may not have had no knowledge that they were unqualified to enter the front door.  No different from the football or basketball coach who engages in unethical recruiting, they are tarnishing these would-be students by drawing them into a despicable scheme.

They are teaching their children that operating outside the rules is not only acceptable; it is the way to go if life’s front door is closed.  And that may be more powerful than anything these students will ever learn in the classroom.  DC

[242] Evangelism?

Why is there not more evangelism going on among orthodox Christians?  Concern about this is expressed in publications like Christianity Today and less celebrated websites and publications.

Here are some thoughts.

Evangelism is about salvation, which in turn is about life after death.  The more the culture secularizes, the more God-consciousness moves off the cultural org chart and into irrelevance.  And with it concern about anything beyond the here and now.  When one considers how many US citizens do not have real savings or sensible financial plans for the future, it is not hard to imagine these people spending much time thinking about the great beyond.

But that is about the larger non-Christian culture.

How about the church?  I cannot remember the last sermon I heard about heaven or hell.  And I am there every week.  In fact, I cannot remember the last time I even heard a clear and pointed reference to heaven or hell.  Instead, I have been on the receiving end of one long stream of sermons about discipleship—putting Christ and his principles into Monday through Friday.

Christ spoke a great deal about heaven.  More specifically, he spoke even more about hell.  Even more important, he did not pull any punches as to the eternal consequences of one’s decision with respect to him. But pastors everywhere—including campus pastors, I suspect—pretty much leave the afterlife out of the narrative.  When we do that we make evangelism less urgent.  If I were really locked in on what is at stake for those who show no evidence of knowing Christ, I might feel more compelled to communicate my faith.

Until then, as I leave church each week I am more inclined to think about what we will have for dinner than how I can get the bread of life into the souls of others. DC

[242] Trust

We are indeed in perilous times.  Those who fear for the future of the republic have well-founded concerns.  The reason is the absence of trust.

Republicans do not trust Democrats.  Dems definitely do not trust Trump, and the citizenry does not trust the news media—print or electronic.  In short, there seems to be no larger bridge that unites the disparate groups.

We have been polarized for so long that it is hard to remember previous eras in which political partisans would intensely disagree with those “across the aisle” but never questioned the patriotism or intentions of their ideological adversaries.

Partisans no longer merely disagree.  They hate.  The contempt is expressed in personal attacks on the character of their opponents.  The media is equally divided.  We now know when we choose a source for news we are also choosing an obvious point of view.  About the closest one can come to getting an even-handed view of life in these United States is to watch news feeds from another country, but they also have points of view.

Let’s return to trust.  Relationships are built on trust.  When trust collapses, relationships end.  In a United States we need trust to survive.  DC


[241] Evidence

“We have enough evidence to convince the whole world [of the validity of the faith].  It is just a matter of people listening.”  So says biblical scholar, Richard Cromwick a friend who debates atheists in public settings, and under whom I studied recently.

Then why do so many Christian college students (and others) struggle with their faith?

Because we do not teach apologetics in our colleges and churches.  As a result, it is open season for skepticism and postmodernism.  We sit on the sidelines and let secularism dominate the playing field.

Many Christian college academic administrators—and pastors–should buy land out here in the Las Vegas desert.  They seem to be comfortable with their heads in sand. DC

[241] No Collusion

We now have the Mueller verdict.  Trump and his minions did not collude with the Russians in the 2016 election.

We now face the other side of this two-plus national agony—all the nefarious (and likely illegal) shenanigans of Trump haters among the Deep State that appear to have propelled the investigation in the first place.

Whether or not you feel another investigation of possible wrongdoing among the Deep Staters should be launched, an important question looms.

What is in the best interests of the nation?

Clearly justice is a pre-eminent concern.  From that angle, a “bring-in-the-fuzz” careful examination of Trump-negative manipulation is in order, with the culprits exposed and punished.

But there is another very practical concern.  An institution (and that includes a republic) can take only so much boat-rocking before it comes loose from its moorings.  Vicious polarization generates zero credibility for each side in a time in which we need to establish trust and rapport.

We are faced with a dilemma as ancient as the scriptures—justice vs. mercy, or perhaps grace.  In this instance, however, how we respond may have reverberating effects on the future health of our nation. DC

[240] Marijuana

The pro-pot advocates have essentially won, and that is a big deal of campuses—Christian and secular.  Marijuana has long been regarded by its advocates as basically harmless.  In fact, I have been hearing that marijuana is harmless since I was in college, more decades ago than I choose to count.

But that is nonsense. It is not harmless.

First, as with alcohol, marijuana use impairs functioning.  Hence, driving, and other mind-body activities, become less certain—more dangerous.

But let me go in another, less cited issue.  A psychotherapist friend of mine once said something to the effect of, “Show me a marijuana user and I will show you an emotional midget.”

Powerful words, but ones containing much truth.  We develop mental and emotional maturity by engaging problems, whether they be intellectual, personal, spiritual, whatever.  Our personality gets stronger through problem-solving.  Marijuana does not help us do that.  Instead of taking on cognitive challenges, it is a form of withdrawal, opting out.  Put the problem aside and get high.

This avoidance behavior of dropping out becomes, for many, a consistent pattern—a habit.  When it does, mental and emotional development is retarded.

Although there are some compelling arguments to be made for the medicinal value of pot, recreational use is not without potential consequences.  “Pothead” connotes many things, but mental and emotional maturity are not among them. DC.

[239] Veer

Remember four years ago when Republicans were skeptical about Trump, concerned that he would be too far to the left of the party?

Well, to reword an old saw, “The more things change the more they become different.”  Not only has Trump positioned himself safely inside the Republican foul lines, but that position, coupled with his less than diplomatic style, has pushed the Democrats to the left.

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders are a long way from Dems like Al Gore, Bill Clinton—both Baptists, and Joe Lieberman, a practicing Jew, and should any of these candidates be elected the nation is likely to change quickly.  I suspect it will continue to veer in the direction of Western Europe and its secular culture, only at an ever faster pace.

Let’s be careful here.  The concern is not about basic Republican or Democratic ideology—small vs. large government for example, or even capitalism vs. socialism.  It is about a Judeo-Christian foundation vs. a secular progressive agenda, with the latter dominating the far left of the Democratic Party.  I don’t think I need to tell you that not every Republican is God-fearing or that no Democrat is, but we are not talking about individuals here.  We are talking about a spiritual clash here, one that will do much to determine the basis of our national moral values and our hospitality toward matters of faith.


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