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Professors and the Psychology of Christian Colleges



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In what should be a dog-bites-man story, Calvin College, one of the nation’s best theologically orthodox Christian schools, has put out a statement prohibiting faculty and staff from advocating for same-sex “marriage.” For an institution that — as a matter of policy — “profess[es] the authority of scripture and the witness of ecumenical creeds” to take a position that is completely consistent with 2,000 years of church history and scriptural understanding is, well, common sense.

But not, apparently, to some professors. While many professors couch their objections in process terms (i.e. “We should have had committee meetings!”), it’s clear that there is some objection to the Board of Trustees resolving a “controversial topic.” While many people would be forgiven for wondering why professors at a (theologically) conservative Christian school might consider the definition of marriage to be “controversial,” those people haven’t spent much time within our nation’s Christian educational institutions.

One of the first things students notice while attending such colleges is that there is a strong element of any given faculty — often the most vocal element — that acts as if they are an oppressed dissident minority standing up against the overwhelming power of hidebound institutions. Everything is debatable, administrative positions are suspect, because, well, they’re administrative positions, and they embrace the postmodern, “question authority” (all authority but their authority) ethic of the mainstream academy.

The irony, of course, is that such professors are doing nothing more than “rebelling” by conforming — conforming to the vast and undifferentiated mass of like-minded faculty at universities across the fruited plain. The true rebels are the tiny minority of professors (relative to the overall ranks of faculty) who not only teach at colleges like Calvin but also stay true to the orthodox principles of the faith. Those who actually “question authority” are the administrators and faculty members who resist the prevailing (secularizing and liberalizing) winds of the academic mainstream to maintain the core identity and mission of their college.

To borrow a Star Trek analogy, the relentless message of the academy to the true dissenters is, “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” Except the academic brand of the Borg actually deceives the members of its hive mind into believing that they are in fact the radical individualists and free-thinkers.  



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