2016 Advance Magazine

Page 55

so many different constituencies to whom they’re communicating, and that creates a great deal of tension of how to communicate a clear, convictional, loving, legally appropriate, theologically orthodox point of view on these things. Given that, how important is it that Christian institutions actively advocate for their religious freedom rights in the political arena? Should we focus more on doing our jobs well and winning the respect of our peers, or risk alienating others in the culture by advocating for our way of approaching higher education? Well, I think it’s both/and. We make the argument in the book that we should lead with love; that has to be our defining motivation. Jesus doesn’t need our institutions to train the next generation of leaders. It’s certainly the best way we have currently to do it, and I want to see Christian higher education thriving 100 years from now around the world, not just in North America. We need to be very appropriate in our cultivation of the spiritual fruit in our responses – that is, are we as individuals, as leaders, and as communities, being defined by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control? That’s the first and most significant set of criteria about whatever success or effectiveness that we might be able to gain. But pursuing goodness, self control, and kindness in the world does not mean that we kowtow to the spirit of the age and to the larger pressures that are marshaling in all these different ways. We should be very wary – as most leaders within Christian higher education are – of the ominous and foreboding nature of these religious liberty discussions, and the place for convictional, theologically orthodox education of any type. Whether we’re evangelical, Muslim, Mormon, or Jewish, the notion of committing to a sacred set of documents that somehow guides human activity, belief and flourishing is a very countercultural notion. So it’s very important that we are careful in how we steward that at this moment.

What higher education looks like in 100 years will be very much determined based on our level of courage in expressing our love for the world, our love for how we think about pedagogy, and other sorts of things.

Good Faith By David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (Baker Books)

WE MAKE THE ARGUMENT IN THE BOOK THAT WE SHOULD LEAD WITH LOVE; THAT HAS TO BE OUR DEFINING MOTIVATION. In your book, you point out that over half of Millennials do not believe the Bible to be authoritative. If that’s the next generation of the church, what can we do as Christian colleges to try to change that? Is there something we need to do differently to shore up Millennials’ faith and belief in the truth of Scripture? That’s a great question. In some ways, I’m more hopeful than ever about Millennials. There’s a certain humility, and a certain narcissism about this generation that’s both totally frustrating and infinitely refreshing.

We need to keep a lot of the core convictions of our institutions. For example, if we’re doing certain Bible requirements, we should not replace those convictions or those practices. But what we’re seeing is that it’s not enough for us just to have [students] take certain Bible courses. I think the change of heart and mind that might be required for us is to expose students to certain seminar-type processes where we’re trying to persuade people of a certain point of view on Scripture. Millennials are waiting to be persuaded about how Scripture relates to various issues of life: finances, state, sexuality, marriage, relationships, global poverty, injustice. [We need] to give people a larger grid to work from. That includes understanding what the Bible’s telling us about who we are as humans, where we come from, what went wrong and how to fix it; how this applies to their calling, and their eventual work. We have to [give students] a strong vocational sensibility – if they’re in a program that relates to entrepreneurship or business, they’re learning how to create it to build abundance in the world. If they’re in a creative program – art, design, journalism, film – they’re [learning that they’re] created by God to bring beauty into the world. If they’re in a science-minded program or teaching or education, [they’re learning] that they’re created to bring order and to instruct and make the world a better, clearer place. We need to teach some of the wisdom literature like Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations. This generation is very ambitious, and they’re living in a very sexualized context. So we have to keep asking ourselves: How do the Scriptures relate to the world in which Millennials are living? Many of the programs that we’ve developed are good and ought to continue, but they’re a little divorced from the kind of world that Millennials are now living in. Therefore, [Millennials] conclude that Scriptures really aren’t anything other than something you study on Sunday morning and it just doesn’t really relate to the lives they they’re living today – which couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve got to correct that. We need their help, actually. This can’t be ADVANCE | SPRING 2016