The Christian and “Higher Education”
I receive a tremendous amount of mail soliciting my advice on a variety of issues. A recent letter was from a Christian young man who has completed a Master’s program and is proceeding towards a Ph.D. He currently is teaching English literature in a high school. One of his requirements is to teach a specific book that has material dealing with drug use, sex, etc. Not all of the book is defective and he is allowed to be selective as to which sections to introduce. He asks whether he is required to reject the book altogether (which could produce serious consequences) or if he might simply assign segments that avoid the filth.
I told him of a Christian friend who teaches high school science. The textbooks are filled with evolutionary propaganda. He presents the authors’ viewpoints, and clearly labels them as “theory.” Then, pursuing legitimate methods of scientific investigation, he offers alternate evidence that contrasts scientific “fact” with evolutionary “theory.” He is extremely popular, having been voted top teacher in his entire high school. He never compromises, but is “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.”
There may be occasions where head-to-head resistance, with consequences to follow, are inevitable—but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
When reflecting upon this matter, I was reminded of a situation in my own life as a twenty-four-year-old student. When I enrolled in the old Stockton College some forty-six years ago, I took a course in evolutionary biology. My professor was a kindly gentleman who also was an ardent evolutionist. This really went “against my grain.” However, I tried to be the best student I could. I did my work, participated in class discussions, was respectful, and genuinely liked my teacher. He knew that, and he enjoyed having me as his student.
In taking tests, I would preface my answers with such phrases as, “According to the textbook . . .” Frequently I would respectfully footnote my answers with my own response. In class I would raise other points of view, but they were not presented in a rude or aggressive fashion; they did courteously challenge the material. My teacher always listened carefully, and at times would offer a response.
I recall he posed this question to the class one day—though clearly it was aimed at me. “Since the saline ratio in human blood is virtually the equivalent of that found in the sea, what conclusion might be drawn from this analogy?” When there was no immediate response from the class, he pointedly asked: “What would you say, Mr. Jackson?” I responded: “Mr. Hall, I am sure some would suggest this indicates that humans had their origin in the sea.” He smiled, pleased that I had concluded correctly the drift of his argument.
But I was not finished. “Another possibility might be that the same Chemist formulated both mixtures.” He smiled even broader, knowing he had been out-foxed by the “little” fox. Sometimes “little foxes” do “spoil the vineyards” (Song of Solomon 2:15)!
One day he announced: “Mr. Jackson you will teach our class on Friday.” I did; he gave me the entire period! During the semester, that offer was never made to another student. Did I mention that I received an A for the course? Don’t bother to ask about other grades!
My point is this. There will be times when, in working within the secular educational system (as student or teacher), there will be confrontations the Christian may not be able to “step around,” and truth must be defended. When that time comes, let us do so with grace and wisdom.
Our job is to “sow the seed.” Who knows when it may fall upon the “good soil” and eventually produce fruit? We ought to thank God when he grants us opportunities to exert our influence in what could be dangerous territory.