College is one of the most important times of your life. You get to make fresh, lasting friendships, work on an educational foundation for your future career, and be away from your family, likely for the first time.
But rather than this being an article with warnings or advice about how to “succeed” as a Christian on a secular campus, it’s a practical guide offering 5 simple tips on how to survive that Intro to Religion class. In these kinds of classes, you may discover a professor who is hostile to the Christian faith and under the guise of “objectivity,” works hard to undermine standard accounts of Christianity, the Bible, church history, etc.
Most of the time, it’s not that what they’re saying isn’t true; it may simply be that they’re leaving out other details or points of consideration that blunt the effects of their claims. Michael Kruger, the presenter in this video, is an expert on early Christianity and the formation of the Bible. Here, he offers 5 tips to remember as you study religion or Christianity on your college campus for the first time.
1. Remember that the truth is not determined by how many people believe it.
There is a basic logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum which tries to appeal to the majority of people in order to advance truth claims. Therefore, be weary of appeals to scholarly consensus, theories, or accepted paradigms; just don’t accept these uncritically.
2. Scholars are not neutral and are operating from a particular worldview.
University faculties often operate from an atheistic or agnostic worldview, and the way they present facts or theories is deeply affected by their own (un)religious beliefs. It’s fair game to be suspicious of claims to neutrality, since the myth of objectivity has been debunked.
3. Difficulties with the Bible and the Christian faith are not new.
Sure, there are problems with the Bible and the Christian worldview, but these have been tackled by the brightest of minds throughout history. In hopes of unsettling young Christians, some professors present their evidence against Christianity as grossly covered up by the church, ground-breaking, or recently discovered. Christian intellectuals acknowledge these challenges, but not without simultaneously calling attention to the problems with other worldviews.
4. Consider the intellectual challenge you’re facing an opportunity to grow.
Some of the brightest Christian minds are people who wrestled with their faith and have come out stronger. If you have doubts or questions, there is no need to despair. Know that you’re not alone—by any means! Realize, however, that after critical, intense study of the issues involved, many scholars have come out with a revitalized faith. Many will even testify to a deeper intimacy with God as a result.
5. Walk through your doubts in Christian community.
It will be tempting to pull away from Christian community when the foundation for that community’s faith is attacked. Resist this temptation—find a good church and/or student ministry that is hospitable to questions and can walk through your college years with you. We can often gain from the wisdom and encouragement of others who’ve been there before us. Also, consider familiarizing yourself with the wisdom literature of the Bible—this section of Scripture often wrestles with the same profound life-questions that you’re often presented with in college.