Now that it’s officially August, the “back to school” conversations have begun. For many parents, however, it is not back to school for their kids, but “away” to school. Some parents are sending kids to college—perhaps for the first time.
My family is in exactly that position. My second child, John, heads to college in just a few weeks. My oldest, Emma, already left three years ago. And I know what parents are feeling. They are wondering how their child will survive the intellectual and spiritual challenges of university life.
Indeed, I can still vividly remember my own college experience as a believer on campus. In the fall of 1989, I began my freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Like many freshmen, I was excited for the next chapter in my life, eager to explore the new opportunities and experiences that college had to offer.
Of course, I knew there would be challenges. College life would not be easy, especially for a Christian. But I had grown up in a solid Christian home, was taught the Bible from a young age, and was a faithful member of my church youth group. So I figured I was ready.
The problem stemmed not from what I was taught but from what I wasn’t taught. I wasn’t prepared in the one area that would matter most in a university environment. I wasn’t prepared intellectually. And I would soon learn (the hard way) that intellectual preparation was what I needed more than anything.
My lack of preparation reached a head in the spring of my freshman year when I took a religion course titled Introduction to the New Testament. The professor was a young scholar who was bright, engaging, funny, and persuasive. It didn’t take long to see that he lectured with an eye toward evangelicals, even sharing how he was once an evangelical himself not long ago.
And then during his graduate studies, after deep engagement with the text, he realized he could no longer maintain his evangelical beliefs. The New Testament wasn’t inspired after all but was full of mistakes. It wasn’t reliable but was filled with made-up stories and fabrications. And its original form wasn’t even accessible to us but had been badly corrupted by scribes over years of transmission.
That professor’s name was [Read more…]