Keeping the Faith in College
by Eunice Wine
Can we keep our faith while in college? The mere title of this article is a paradox because the modern university campus is a rather faithless setting. According to Dr. Finny Kuruvilla, who holds doctorates in chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard, in addition to his MD, “99 percent of university professors are non-Christian.” It follows, that if professors are practicing what they teach, they are living out a god-less lifestyle before their students and promoting anti-faith ideas in their classrooms.
The first examples that spring to mind from my own college degrees, are evolution being taught as a fact in the sciences and the promotion of female equality (mostly by my humanities and history professors) – we can do anything men can do. Both of these are false ideas because there are irrefutable gender differences. In regard to evolution, it took me more faith to believe that something was created out of a random mud concoction, than to believe Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear.”
So why do we need a discussion of keeping the faith while in college? Mainly because 70 to 80 percent of our young people are no longer keeping the faith. To obey Proverbs 3:1 on present day college campuses is simply not the norm, “My son (or daughter), forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments.” It may be easier to keep the faith while attending a Bible college or a community college campus where commuters typically live at home instead of in dorms on campus, which is what I recommend for those less sure of their faith, and the practical daily expressions thereof, in their lives.
Since most arguments hinge on the definition of terms, what is faith? The definition of faith, according to Webster’s American College Dictionary, is “n. 1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing. 2. Belief that is not based on proof. 3. Belief in God or in the doctrines of religion… 7. Fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.” For the sake of this article, we are going to go with the third definition – belief in God – as the faith we are trying to maintain in college. That faith will be hard enough to keep without the adherence to a certain way of life, i.e. Mennonite dress codes as in church membership standards hinted at in definition seven. To faithfully live out and practice the head covering and modest dress of the Anabaptists while in an environment hostile to all Christian beliefs, is truly not for the fainthearted. My testimony on keeping the faith (visibly) is stronger as a faculty member of a university than it was in my student days.
Keeping the faith in college tip number one is this: a strong and solid faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior is requiredprevious to college attendance. To keep the faith while in college, it is not enough merely to be completely sure of what you believe, but to also be able to cogently defend your faith to both the curious and to the hostile. For example, you may be called on in class by an atheist Philosophy professor to prove that absolute truth exists in your term paper as I was. Dr. Drange was grading on well-written papers, but he was also expecting his students to be intimidated into his belief system by risking our final course grade on defense of our personal beliefs. In a situation like this you had to be sure of what you believe and stand up in support of your beliefs and that is easier done when you are truly saved and have memorized Scripture to support your faith. Then, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart” Proverbs 3:3. I probably passed Dr. Drange’s Philosophy 101 class more due to an active prayer life than to any intellect displayed in his class. For my faith to survive hostile relativist lectures, it was imperative for me to, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:5-6.
Tip number two in how to keep your faith in college is to be actively involved in weekly and/or twice-weekly church and small group or Bible study. You (me, your neighbor, and all Christians) need the support and caring and meaningful prayer of other Christians to help us maintain and grow in our faith life. For me, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meetings on Thursdaynights, followed by a Bible Study small group I was part of lead to me joining the church I was attending in college. (Some of the most brilliant minds at my University were fellow Christians in IV and who are now all over the world doing Kingdom work). Just knowing that my church was going to have communion once a month was enough incentive from my conservative Old Order Mennonite background to help me keep my life right, to be able to take communion with a clean conscience. It was actually very encouraging for me to be a member of a community church that discouraged participating in the emblems if you had something in your life to make right. This is not to say that church attendance alone helps one keep the faith, but how many truly godly saints do you know personally who don’t attend church?
Another big part of keeping the faith, in college and otherwise, is having the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life, “Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth…” John 16:13a. It is from God that we can be guided correctly in our life decisions and it is from God that we gain true knowledge and wisdom. “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” Proverbs 2:6. Therefore, if we are in college to learn a major or to excel in the knowledge of some subject to better help us in our vocation of life’s calling, then we need to enlist the Lord to help us learn.
The definition of wisdom, according to the aforementioned authority on definitions, is “n. 1. The quality or state of being wise; sagacity, discernment, or insight. 2. Scholarly knowledge or learning.” Therefore, to excel in college we are going to need the Lord to give us wisdom and to help us focus and study and to help us not to embarrass Jesus too badly when we put something on paper and claim we are Christian.
Finally, tip number three for keeping the faith in college: stay in the Word, and have an active, daily, personal prayer life. Believe me, there is still prayer in colleges and universities on exam days! As a director for a state university, which shall remain nameless, I once had a Master’s student who was about to sit for her Comprehensive exams plead with me to pray with her. It put my job as her Advisor at risk to do so, but my staff didn’t report me to Human Resources, and the student calmed right down and was able to focus and pass her comps. So don’t be afraid to pray on campus, carry your Bible, pray in class, or read your Bible at break time when the other students are joking and smoking. It is still legal for students to pray when staff can get in trouble for it at many universities. Pray sincerely to God to keep you pure from the evil influences around you because you are going to need it to help in times of temptation. Only, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee” Proverbs2:11.
Also, please realize that there are Bible colleges out there that can offer you accredited and competitive degrees in many fields you might be interested in studying and that your faith might possibly be strengthened the most by attending one of those such as this one: http://www.sattlercollege.org Sattler College is described further in this article in Mennonite World Review:http://mennoworld.org/2017/0888/28/news/founders-of-new college-draw-from---anabaptism/
In conclusion, college attendees, please read your Bible daily so you have the Word within you to refute non-believers and/or answer the questions of seekers. I have seen too many of my fellow previous-Christian classmates fall victim to humanism and thinking they have all the answers themselves instead of relying on Jesus. Lastly, don’t be ashamed of what you believe. If you choose to hold to the head covering or dress standards of your Anabaptist heritage, be well-researched in why you look like you do and be ready to explain it to others (1 Corinthians 11: 3-6). May God go with you as you represent Him in college, knowing their knowledge is only for this world and you represent a higher kingdom – one not of this world.
Eunice and her husband, David, live in central Virginia. Eunice has a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s of Science in Journalism from West Virginia University and holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Community College Leadership from Old Dominion University.