The rest of what I said: on colleges’ responsibilities

The unedited version of one of the questionsin the interview the Washington Examiner did with me:

3. Do colleges and universities bear a responsibility to nurture the spiritual lives of their students? If so, how are they doing, or how could they do better?

I think distinctly religious colleges do, such as Patrick Henry College where I work and the array of Catholic institutions in the D.C. area. I don’t think secular or state-funded universities do, and when they try they usually spin out some sort of generic therapeutic spirituality that only makes things worse. I would just as soon they stay out of it.

The real responsibility, though, falls on individual professors, and this is true whether it is a religious or a secular school. It comes back, again, to vocation. God works through human beings–nonbelievers as well as believers–in their callings. As a teacher, I am called to love and serve my students. I do this by teaching them my subject. But I dare not corrupt them, harm them, or use them for my own ends. My impact on their spiritual condition may be minimal or great. At Patrick Henry College, I can be more intentional about that than when I taught at a secular college, but all teachers are part of a vast web of influences in their students’ lives. A heavy responsibility comes with that.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jen

    I totally agree on secular institutions. I went to my cousin’s graduation from a private university that was at one point religiously affiliated, as many were, but is no longer. They still felt the need to open the ceremony with an invocation — which invoked every possible form of God except for Jesus Christ. The chaplain asked Allah, Jehovah, the goddesses, and our Buddha natures each for something in particular. It was awful, and completely unnecessary to the ceremony.

  • Jen

    I totally agree on secular institutions. I went to my cousin’s graduation from a private university that was at one point religiously affiliated, as many were, but is no longer. They still felt the need to open the ceremony with an invocation — which invoked every possible form of God except for Jesus Christ. The chaplain asked Allah, Jehovah, the goddesses, and our Buddha natures each for something in particular. It was awful, and completely unnecessary to the ceremony.

  • Jose Molina

    Dear Gene

    I know this comment has nothing to do with your post, but I need to tell you something. I live in Ecuador, South America. and I’ve been a lutheran for 16 years (I was raised in a small independent/non denominational/charismatic congregation, and was a member of it until I was 19), but since my church is on the liberal side of the theological spectrum (indeed, it is an EKD parish, brought here by german immigrants), the only way I could learn about confessional lutheranism has been the internet and pages like this (I also read frequently Paul McCain’s blog and LCMS web page). Today I finished your book “Spirituality of the Cross”, and I can tell you that your explanation of the Gospel and vocation has changed my life, my worldview and many things more. Thanks a lot, Gene.

    God bless you.

    José

  • Jose Molina

    Dear Gene

    I know this comment has nothing to do with your post, but I need to tell you something. I live in Ecuador, South America. and I’ve been a lutheran for 16 years (I was raised in a small independent/non denominational/charismatic congregation, and was a member of it until I was 19), but since my church is on the liberal side of the theological spectrum (indeed, it is an EKD parish, brought here by german immigrants), the only way I could learn about confessional lutheranism has been the internet and pages like this (I also read frequently Paul McCain’s blog and LCMS web page). Today I finished your book “Spirituality of the Cross”, and I can tell you that your explanation of the Gospel and vocation has changed my life, my worldview and many things more. Thanks a lot, Gene.

    God bless you.

    José

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How about professors at least promoting academic honesty?

    Hal Lewis resigned from the American Physical Society.

    It is his protest against the corruption in science.

    http://my.telegraph.co.uk/reasonmclucus/reasonmclucus/15835660/professor-emiritus-hal-lewis-resigns-from-american-physical-society/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How about professors at least promoting academic honesty?

    Hal Lewis resigned from the American Physical Society.

    It is his protest against the corruption in science.

    http://my.telegraph.co.uk/reasonmclucus/reasonmclucus/15835660/professor-emiritus-hal-lewis-resigns-from-american-physical-society/

  • Brody Smith/libertas

    “I don’t think secular or state-funded universities do, and when they try they usually spin out some sort of generic therapeutic spirituality that only makes things worse.”

    Religious neutrality is a myth. The establishment clause, the 1st amendment to the constitution, has been and is violated every day. Professional “secular” clergy work at promoting false religion in schools, universities, museums, on public television, etc. Christians blindly sit by while our children are proselytized to by these humanists, even paying the false prophet with our tax dollars. The humanists have taught us a myth of neutrality. They have given us a soft pillow on which to lay our heads and find comfort. Yet, our children grow up to reject Christ and we wonder in our hearts how this could be. Public support of Christianity is the better path, the path of wisdom. For it is impossible to keep religion out of the public square, out of government, and out of politics. When Christians try, all we accomplish is to keep our religion out of schools, government and politics, while giving the humanists free reign.

    Pew foundation research has observed that with each new generation roughly 10% more American youth accept humanism’s doctrine of “denying religion.” If this trend continues, Christianity will be vanquished in America as a preserving force; we are called to be salt and light, not dinner for the humanists.

    Man is not the measure of all things. Christ is. Only by having faith in this, can we go free from slavery to false religion.

  • Brody Smith/libertas

    “I don’t think secular or state-funded universities do, and when they try they usually spin out some sort of generic therapeutic spirituality that only makes things worse.”

    Religious neutrality is a myth. The establishment clause, the 1st amendment to the constitution, has been and is violated every day. Professional “secular” clergy work at promoting false religion in schools, universities, museums, on public television, etc. Christians blindly sit by while our children are proselytized to by these humanists, even paying the false prophet with our tax dollars. The humanists have taught us a myth of neutrality. They have given us a soft pillow on which to lay our heads and find comfort. Yet, our children grow up to reject Christ and we wonder in our hearts how this could be. Public support of Christianity is the better path, the path of wisdom. For it is impossible to keep religion out of the public square, out of government, and out of politics. When Christians try, all we accomplish is to keep our religion out of schools, government and politics, while giving the humanists free reign.

    Pew foundation research has observed that with each new generation roughly 10% more American youth accept humanism’s doctrine of “denying religion.” If this trend continues, Christianity will be vanquished in America as a preserving force; we are called to be salt and light, not dinner for the humanists.

    Man is not the measure of all things. Christ is. Only by having faith in this, can we go free from slavery to false religion.

  • Brody Smith/libertas

    Whether or not state funded universities bear responsibility for student’s spirituality…..they actively take part in that spirituality…for the better or worst.

  • Brody Smith/libertas

    Whether or not state funded universities bear responsibility for student’s spirituality…..they actively take part in that spirituality…for the better or worst.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Christians blindly sit by while our children are proselytized to by these humanists” (@4). Well, there’s your problem, Brody! You’re “blindly sitting by” while your children are being indoctrinated. I, on the other hand, am reading the Bible to my child, praying with him, teaching him about Jesus. A spiritual battle is properly enjoined spiritually.

    “Our children grow up to reject Christ and we wonder in our hearts how this could be.” My understanding is that it has something to do with the sinful nature.

    “Public support of Christianity is the better path, the path of wisdom.” And, just wondering, can you think of any counterexamples, where maybe the “public support of Christianity” turned south, went wrong? Completely unrelated, but have you ever visited Europe?

    “Pew foundation research has observed that with each new generation roughly 10% more American youth accept humanism’s doctrine of ‘denying religion.’” “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Do you think that if we publicly support Christianity, that the road that leads to life will become really wide?

    “If this trend continues, Christianity will be vanquished in America as a preserving force.” If only someone could have said the same thing to Elijah when he fled to Horeb. Or maybe to Jesus once his disciples had fled.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Christians blindly sit by while our children are proselytized to by these humanists” (@4). Well, there’s your problem, Brody! You’re “blindly sitting by” while your children are being indoctrinated. I, on the other hand, am reading the Bible to my child, praying with him, teaching him about Jesus. A spiritual battle is properly enjoined spiritually.

    “Our children grow up to reject Christ and we wonder in our hearts how this could be.” My understanding is that it has something to do with the sinful nature.

    “Public support of Christianity is the better path, the path of wisdom.” And, just wondering, can you think of any counterexamples, where maybe the “public support of Christianity” turned south, went wrong? Completely unrelated, but have you ever visited Europe?

    “Pew foundation research has observed that with each new generation roughly 10% more American youth accept humanism’s doctrine of ‘denying religion.’” “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Do you think that if we publicly support Christianity, that the road that leads to life will become really wide?

    “If this trend continues, Christianity will be vanquished in America as a preserving force.” If only someone could have said the same thing to Elijah when he fled to Horeb. Or maybe to Jesus once his disciples had fled.


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