How To Get The Least Possible Out Of University Religion Classes

How To Get The Least Possible Out Of University Religion Classes September 1, 2015

Michael Kruger has made a video which describes his own experience of having taken classes with Bart Ehrman, who he depicts as attacking Christianity. He complains that youth groups do not prepare student intellectually for their experience at university. That is true – but what Kruger seems to want is not intellectual and academic preparation, but inoculation that will prevent students from learning new things at university. He seems not to realize that it is the inaccurate depictions of the Bible, Christian history, and other religions in fundamentalist Christian contexts which sets up students to lose their faith when they are confronted with more accurate information and other perspectives at university.

Instead, he encourages fundamentalist university students to assume that the perspectives offered by professors are not different from that of fundamentalist students because the professors know more about these subjects, but rather they supposedly differ because God has not opened the minds of these professors. That is insulting to the many Christian professors who disagree with Kruger’s narrow dogmatic stance on the basis of the evidence in the Bible itself, and who are convinced that they are not being unfaithful to God in being honest about these things. And it ignores the possibility that Kruger’s own narrow and unbiblical stance is itself due to God not having opened his mind.

Kruger emphasizes that scholars are not neutral – but doesn’t seem to realize that this applies to his fundamentalist biases, which are far more problematic than the secular ones he decries.

He also says something that fits no scholarly book or classroom I have encountered, namely that secular scholars present issues which have long been known about as though they are a new discovery. Perhaps he means that students from a fundamentalist background will hear them for the first time in this context – but that issue is with the selective teaching about the Bible they have received, and not with professors.

Kruger rightly says that the painful experience of being challenged leads to growth and depth. But he pretends that the ancient apologists merely preserved and did not change the faith they inherited as they had this experience.

And so, if you want to be well prepared for university and avoid losing your faith there, while learning and getting as much as you can out of your studies there, I think there is a good solution: get out of fundamentalism sooner rather than later, and don’t trade it for purely individual exploration, but find a community of people who share your faith heritage but who, unlike fundamentalists, will not hide awkward truths about the Bible from you.

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