College and Faith

A fundamental mistake that parents make when it comes to Christian colleges is this: they do not take care to understand the distinction between sanctification and socialization (or enculturation). If other parents are like me, their main desire is for their child to come out the other end of his college education a genuine child of God, as one who genuinely believes the gospel and is committed to following Jesus. I want this because the stakes are high: Life or Death. And the greatest good I could wish for my child is a faith that results in eternal Life. But, alas, if I read my Bible correctly, the faith that leads to eternal Life is not the choice to remain a faithful member of Christian culture (whatever sub-culture of Christianity that might be). Rather, the faith that leads to Life is the deeply personal, entirely individualistic, profoundly existential choice to hope in the mercy of God and to follow and obey Jesus.

Since saving faith is such a personal, subjective matter, and since (as the Bible tells us) it is so alien to any of us if left to ourselves, the environment my child enters does not ultimately determine whether he will keep the faith or lose it. How he decides to respond to whatever environment in which he finds himself will determine whether he keeps or loses the faith—a decision he will make in his freedom. No environment, no matter how healthy, no matter how perfectly conducive to faith, can make him choose to believe. And yet, no environment, no matter how hostile to faith and destructive of it, can ultimately make him choose to reject the faith. As a responsible parent, I would of course never want my child to deliberately immerse himself in an environment destructive of faith, and yet, in the final analysis, by God’s grace, even in such an environment as that, my child will come to believe.

Christian parents are being naïve and ignorant if they send their children to Christian colleges under the belief that at a Christian college their children’s faith will be preserved. Not only are today’s Christian colleges increasingly hostile to faith, but even if one were to find the perfect Christian school, that school could not make my child freely embrace the gospel if he or she is destined not to. I know the fear of having a child reject the faith. But no wise decision is ever made out of fear in such matters.


[This edited excerpt is from “College and Losing One’s Faith” by Jack Crabtree. To read the original article, click here. More about Gutenberg College here. Or check us out on Facebook.]


To Whom Do We Listen?

I was conversing with someone the other day when the topic of the presidential election came up. I mentioned a candidate, to which the person replied, “Oh, he could never win. He’s too fat.” I began reflecting on that response. In all likelihood, this person was exactly right. Few modern Americans could see beyond his girth. It is not just weight, of course. We Americans tend to be obsessed with judging the value and worth of a person by his or her appearance.

Paul instructs believers to avoid this very thing. Do not judge a person by his appearance, he tells the Corinthians, judge a person by his “heart.” When I think back through human history, some of the greatest people were the short, fat, ugly, and unimpressive ones. The philosopher Socrates was notoriously funny-looking. The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah himself (Jesus) would be unattractive.

If these men were here with us in person, would any of us modern Americans give a hearing to any of them? The modern American obsession with looks and presentation is “fleshly.” It is ignorant and sinful. But it is also self-destructive and stupid. We elect good-looking politicians who are incompetent, corrupt, ambitious, and narcissistic. We choose charming, charismatic pastors who are self-absorbed, foolish, and terrible guides.

Whom do we respect and listen to? It is good to take stock of why.


[This edited excerpt is from “Why Do We Listen to Whom We Listen?” by Jack Crabtree. To read the original article, click here. More about Gutenberg College here. Or check us out on Facebook.]


Confronting Our Fears

Being a parent, I have had my share of panic-stricken minutes as I waited anxiously to hear if my child was okay. Fear is natural. But fear is distressing. We would prefer never to experience fear. But fear is an inevitable part of human experience.

When confronting our fears, the most important truth we can acknowledge is that God is God. All that happens to us is ultimately planned, purposed, and executed by Him. Accordingly, the basis for quelling our fears lies in our confidence that God will care for us, provide for us, and protect us. If God intends to protect us, nothing can harm us, for nothing can match His determinative control. He is God—the final authority on anything that can happen to us.

But is there any basis for such confidence? Can we believe that God intends our well-being rather than our harm? Nothing we know from the Bible can reasonably lead us to expect that we who are God’s children are immune from harm and suffering. That simply is not the case.

So where does that leave us? If we simply observe the pattern of God’s control over His creation, we learn something crucial. Providential care and provision are the norm; harm and destruction are the exception. God’s typical stance toward us is to protect, to provide, to nurture, and to care for us. God deviates from this pattern only when He has some other purpose in mind. We suffer when God, in His wisdom, wants to accomplish something constructive in our lives through that suffering. Then and only then does God break the pattern of His generally benevolent providence. This, then, is the basis for our confidence.

All this is fine and good. We can grasp these perspectives with our intellect. But for many of us, doing so does not stop the worrying. How do we stop worrying when our anxiety seems to be out of our control?

I do believe that the ultimate antidote to worry is a conviction that the things outlined above are true. From the core of our beings, we must take it as given that God will keep us from all ultimate harm whatsoever and from all temporal harm except that which He ordains for a greater good. If we can truly accept this, there will be no room for fear. How do we believe this truth from the core of our beings? How do we allow it to define our very existences? How do we quiet our imaginations? We may not be able to quiet them altogether, but we need not heed them.

Fear is natural. We are limited, relatively powerless, finite creatures. We are also sinners who tend to credit the flights of our imaginations with more substance than is due them. So fear is perfectly understandable. But, for those of us who are striving to know God and to live our lives in the light of His truth, it is incumbent upon us to confront our fears with the truth about God: God is always working in our lives to bring about what is good, and usually that means He will provide, protect, and care for us. If we believe this is true about God, then although we will still experience fear, it will neither paralyze nor rule us.

[This edited excerpt is from “Faith and Worry” by Jack Crabtree. To read the original article, click here. More about Gutenberg College here. Or check us out on Facebook.]


Outside the Herd

After performing the initial miracle of turning water into wine in Cana in Galilee, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for a Passover celebration. While there, he performed some miraculous “signs” (John 2:23), and, having accomplished his purposes in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, he returns to Galilee for the first time since he left for the Passover. John tells us that Jesus testified that “a prophet has no honor in his own country” and then John says that the Galileans received Jesus, “having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast” (John 4:44-45). Presumably John is implying that the Galileans received him for his miracles but not for his previous teaching and the wisdom it contained.

Why does a prophet not have honor in his own country? Two thinkers have, in their own way, explored the dynamic within human nature that underlies this phenomenon: Friedrich Nietzsche and Alexis de Tocqueville. Nietzsche explored the dynamic by which the “herd” seeks to protect itself from anyone who would rise above it in strength, excellence, or stature. The “herd” collaborates to shame (or guilt) the would-be superior into conforming to the norms of the herd. De Tocqueville, in his examination of young America’s democracy, speaks of some dangers inherent within democracy. Given a natural impulse within human beings, people will be very reluctant to allow anyone of their own to excel in any way. A significant danger of democracy, therefore, is the breeding of mediocrity.

What is the means by which the “herd” exercises control and keeps people from rising above and being distinctive? The “herd,” with one voice, attaches to the non-conformist some name of contempt: “nut,” “fanatic,” “hate-monger,” “freak”—the list goes on. This is the most powerful weapon that worldly culture turns against belief in Jesus. One cannot be a disciple of Jesus without having the “herd” call you names. The herd hates Jesus—just like he told us they would. In fact, the herd often hates the truth itself.

There is no way to be an authentic follower of Jesus today without declaring independence from the herd which believes that no intelligent human being actually takes belief in Jesus seriously. One is a nut to believe in the biblical claims about Jesus. May God give me the strength and the dignity to stand outside the herd. May God give me the strength to be a nut by believing in his Son.


[This edited excerpt is from “God Give Me Courage to Be a Nut” by Jack Crabtree. To read the original article, click here. More about Gutenberg College here. Or check us out on Facebook.]


Believers Must Get in the Education Business

In my recent paper, “How to Follow Jesus When You Cannot Kill the Beast,” the topic of Gutenberg’s 2013 Summer Institute, I highlighted the need for believers to begin to develop an alternative educational infrastructure. A friend recently sent me an interesting article from an Australian newspaper. It is about some predictions being made by a Christian philosopher there. Of interest to me, in the fourth paragraph of the article he makes a similar suggestion to that in my paper. If there is to be any antidote to the collapse of Western culture, believers must get in the education business and provide some truly biblical alternatives to educating the next generation.

Here’s a link to the article:


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