Evangelical Christians have been making the same point for so long, we are running out of ways to say it.
We’ve tried the following phrases/statements:
- The intolerance of tolerance.
- There is a lack of diversity in the push for diversity.
- Those complaining the loudest about discrimination, are often the most discriminatory.
- Liberals are not really liberals, but simply want one view.
- Those pushing for all view to be treated fairly, are not treating all views fairly.
- The supposed quest for equality, is really a quest to privilege a certain viewpoint.
And on and on we could go.
The basic point is this. In the modern liberal push for diversity there is one enormous category missing: intellectual/religious/ideological diversity.
All the while our liberal culture pats itself on the back for being so diverse–whether that diversity be racial, ethnic, or cultural–it continues to ignore the biggest area of potential diversity. Diversity of thinking.
After all, isn’t this what the public education should be doing? Shouldn’t it be exposing students to a variety of intellectual/ideological viewpoints? But that is precisely the thing modern universities do not do (or refuse to do).
It is well known that conservative thinkers make up a shockingly small percentage of major university faculties–and many of these faculties are funded by public tax dollars. A recent study, for example, showed less than 2% of English professors are Republicans.
This point has been eloquently made by Nicholas Kristoff in a recent New York Times Op-Ed piece aptly entitled, “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance.” He writes:
WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.
Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.
This lack of diversity is particularly evident in the field of biblical studies at major American universities. Go on a search for genuinely evangelical professors who hold a teaching post in biblical studies at a major public university and see what you find. They are an endangered species.
And the intellectual discrimination doesn’t just happen at the hiring level. It also happens at the Ph.D. level. Evangelicals have trouble getting hired at major universities because they first have difficulty being accepted into the Ph.D. programs of these major universities.
I have seen this up close and personal here at RTS. We had an extremely bright student a number of years ago apply to PhD programs in biblical studies at some of the major universities and divinity schools in America. He had exceptional academic credentials including prestigious undergraduate scholarships, academic awards, fantastic grades, and also a near perfect score on the GRE.
And how many of these major universities and divinity schools accepted him? Zero.
Of course, critics could always write off this single example as an irrelevant anomaly. It doesn’t prove anything, they might say. Maybe he was rejected for other reasons.
Even so, the state of our institutions of higher learning today are not in doubt. They are vastly, enormously, and seriously slanted towards a single ideological and intellectual viewpoint. That is undeniable.
The question isn’t whether it is true. The question is whether anyone cares, or whether anyone will do anything about it.
And if nothing is done about it, our universities (and our culture) will not be the better. Indeed, we will become what the liberals have always said they want to avoid. A totalitarian state that simply indoctrinates rather than educates.
Secular dogmatics: we have ways of making you think. power to the secular academy and a consensus built on consensus.
Francis A Schaeffer saw it coming back in the 70’s.(How should we then live)
Feet of clay & jars of clay.
Jonathan Williams says
Dr. Kruger, thank you for this post. Yes, no doubt that institutions of higher learning are seriously slanted towards liberal/leftist viewpoints. What recommendation(s) would you offer as to what might be done about this? How can we who are in ministry equip our people who are university students, faculty, and staff to “find their voice” in the university and to influence academia?
– Jonathan Williams
Doc Stan says
Dear Dr Kruger, These symptoms go back to the XIXth century as noted by my Grandfather! When asked for a reason one of my earliest Evangelical teachers said that in that era Evangelicals exploded to the ends of the earth with the Gospel (God be thanked for nations changes for good from Patagonia to the Southern Seas, not to mention inroads into Asia). But a major aspect to that era was that parallel to missions, Humanism and Darwin’s answer to Creationism bewitched Western thinking at all levels. The heirs of ancient Greek-Roman rationalism and even moralism, Western analytic science sky-rocketed but Behaviorists and their buddies diminished the status of humans to that of animals with dire results in the fields of human sciences! Bib Studs (Theol.) was put on a timescale of rationalising in reverse gear to prove Biblical persons as mythical. Now that the young science of N-Eastern archaeology is unearthing the Kingdoms (e.g.) of early Israel the critical approaches try to find cracks of a very real armour!
But J Williams is spot on – we know it but how so we assault politically, financially and “academically” fortified positions??? If I had been a decade younger and knew had to find finance I would join up – now I pray for Christian academics and I run a tiny Bible school for Pasifika to learn English Biblical Theology, www-access and discriminating use of the millions of resources in English (Facts are that the fruit of XIXth century missions do not want to associate with the original churches of similar name that have become more humanistic than Biblical). One of my motives is that young Islanders that “Europeanise” and take university level studies are alienated from their Pasifika cultures and especially their more conservative churches, starting a process that could parallel that of the West.
Nathan Tumey says
Thank you Dr. Kruger for your blog posts, lectures, and books. I can’t tell you how much they have meant to me. I’m a PhD chemist – and partly due to science/faith issues, I’ve faced some significant issues with doubts about my faith. Your writings and lectures have helped me tremendously – and now I work in my church trying to teach some of these concepts (about the reliability of the Bible) to both teens and adults.
The dilemma you pose above is a significant one. How can we (evangelical Christians) stay engaged in academia when we are being systematically pushed away? In terms of Biblical studies, I can’t say. But in terms of sciences, humanities, etc, perhaps its time that we encourage our brightest Christian kids to NOT go to a Christian college or university (like I did) and instead send them into the “lions den” of our major universities. But to do this, we (as a church body) need to provide the tools to these young adults so that they can process what they are learning. I see two avenues for this:
1) We need increased academic rigor our church education. We need “Sunday School” like classes that are serious scholarly classes – not just another “book discussion” or another “how to be a good husband/wife” series. We need sunday school classes on the reliability of scripture, the formation of the cannon, church history, philosophical arguments for God’s existence, etc.
2) We (the church body) need to support organizations like Ratio Christi and Veritas – two organizations that are out “on the ground” at secular universities doing lectures, debates, etc so that folks can see first-hand the intellectual richness of the Christian faith.
I’ve become quite passionate about both of these areas in the last year or two and I’m trying to figure out exactly how to serve God in both of these areas…
Thanks for the answers suggested here, Nathan. I am myself a Christian on a secular campus (though I have thought about transferring), and I’ve found it difficult and uncomfortable to dialogue with my professors who have rejected the Christian faith which was part of their upbringing. I feel like I have failed at bringing some issues up because the classes are not designed to incorporate faith/Scriptural issues. However, I find it paramount to my faith that I DO something. I have several friends who would absolutely benefit from this kind of thing.
Partially what holds me back is a feeling of social ineptness because I am wary of inviting people who hold different or skewed beliefs into my close circle of friends, partially due to a fear that I will be negatively influenced.
If you or anyone experienced in the faith can address these issues or even be a mentor of sorts to me by helping me out I would be very grateful!