In fighting and winning the culture war(s), where civilisation itself is at stake, we need to know where are the frontlines and trenches. Without question, they include our schools, particularly higher education. Secular progressives have successfully target the educational system for decades and their dogma greatly affects the younger generation.
Are the western institutions of higher education really cauldrons of radical leftist ideologies? Many are. Do they eat conservative and Christian students alive? The answer: Yes and No. It is possible as a conservative and God-fearing student to do well in such a seemingly hostile environment (after all, didn’t the early church thrive in the first centuries of Roman persecution?).
This author is one example that very principle: a new Christian when he went to university, his faith and spiritual life grew dramatically while being in an academic environment which was indifferent, contrary, and at times, hostile to what he believed.
However, there is also the risk of a student from a Christian family, with a Christian upbringing, who becomes angry (and miserable) social justice warrior in a matter of weeks while attending post-secondary school. Family and church are put on the back burner.
How can we properly handle this prospect? Some things to bear in mind:
- Divine guidance: Every major decision you make should be bathed in prayer. You can do anything and go anywhere provided you are led by the Holy Spirit. Don’t choose a major or university merely because it is a ‘good idea.’ Pray, wait on the Lord, and make sure it is a ‘God-idea.’ Every other point mentioned below rests on this foundation;
- Reality: Secular progressivism is the prevailing philosophy in many western universities. This is can be found especially in courses labelled ‘studies’ (e.g. Native American Studies or African-American Studies or Gender Studies), in social sciences, and in humanities. Knowing this in advance is good for you; for when you understand a situation, you are half-way towards a solution (Proverbs 4:7);
- Find like-minded faculty and students: When you are in the minority, wisdom decrees that you find allies among the faculty and students who share much, if not all, of your worldview. Such alliances will prove useful during your studies, especially for support and note-sharing;
- Choose your battles carefully: Don’t be in the habit or looking for someone to argue with. Chances of changing their minds are slim and it just wastes time and energy. Only when you must contend with a progressive should you go out to battle. Also, if you find an honest progressive who is willing to listen to an opposing view – they are in the minority but worth the dialogue. As the saying goes, keep your gun powder dry for the battles that really matter;
- Self-control: This is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). There is something respectable, even noble, about a person who stays calm and in control, reasonable and respectful, even in the face of deliberate provocation. Proverbs 17:28: Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. Once you lose your temper – you lose – even if you have the best argument. Tantrums are not a mark of authority nor maturity; frankly, they are the sign of a loser. You will have a better listening audience if you keep cool. So be prepared, and then calmly, firmly, and authoritatively state your case;
- Know where you stand: If you are unfairly treated because of your views, then know your rights. There are bodies in the university to which you can appeal or from which you can get arbitration. This can be the case when facing issues of religious freedom, freedom of speech, or academic integrity. This author recalls an A-average student who was failed in a subject by a progressivist professor who clearly disliked her views. Their excuse for the failure was vague, arbitrary, and subjective. The student learned that she had the right of appeal. So that right was exercised and the student passed with a high mark;
- Choose your major wisely: Some university majors are more susceptible to subjective bias than others. Economics, science, and even politics are more even-handed. There are professors who will teach their subjects objectively, regardless of their worldview – seek them out;
- Integrity: Those students who work and study with integrity will be respected, even if they are conservatives. Do the right thing: study hard, use the best sources, do quality work, show passion for what you believe and do. Remember that your minority status can be an asset, not a liability, because it can spur you on to try harder, think critically, and come up with great insights. While you might feel outnumbered, like a ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’ and a ‘babe in Babylon,’ you will come forth as gold.
- Pray without ceasing: People of faith have a very powerful weapon for fighting the culture war – it is called ‘prayer.’ The Biblical exhortation to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17) takes on fresh meaning in light of what we have learned. It also gives an unprecedented perspective – the heavenly one (Ephesians 2:6; 6:12-13). For when you remember the overriding principle that the culture war is ultimately a spiritual war – and that our weapons must be equally spiritual – then prayer becomes mandatory, not just a nice option. The throne room of grace is open to you (Hebrews 4:16) so come in, pray without ceasing, and take heart that, ‘The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much — James 5:16. When prayer prevails, then people of goodwill on all sides become winners.
- Discernment Off Campus: It is possible to face a heavy bombardment of indoctrination without putting your toe on a university campus or enrolment in distance education. The media, including social media, can work on your worldview from the comfort of your own home or smart phone. Reports of manipulated information persist – to what extent they are true is yet to be seen. In the meantime, if you are a Christian, practice Biblical discernment. Juxtaposition what you hear or read with the Word of God. Let Christ, through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, guide you into all truth — John 16:3.
— Taken and amplified from the book Today/Tomorrow: Understanding the Present; Ready for the Future.