F2. War on Christianity, Part 2: Academia



The principle of classical inclusiveness was predominant for centuries, but has been recently superseded by identity politics … which has been superseded in turn by the “let’s get even” mentality … inclusiveness supposed to bring peaceful diversity … inclusiveness and moral values mutually exclusive … inclusiveness excludes God, resorts to compromise.

Classical inclusiveness

Change is happening fast in America in general, and American universities are the pacesetters for the changes.

Changes to our universities’ culture have been occurring for a long time. The first colleges in the country were established to train Christian ministers. Those schools (think Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) gradually became completely secularized, but the changes came about over centuries. The changes always took place in a consistent direction, that is, toward a classical education in the humanities and sciences – with religion still taught, but taught as an alternate subject rather than as an absolute basis of faith. I’m going to call this direction of change “classical inclusiveness.”

Classical inclusiveness means that a university presents itself as a kind of buffet table of great philosophers, great artists, and great thinkers from all fields. There is pretty general agreement about who those great thinkers are (Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Darwin, etc., etc.), and pretty general agreement that a well-educated person will profit from learning about these thinkers but will remain free to come to his own decisions about what he believes to be true. He can fill his plate with goodies as his tastes dictate.

The effect of this buffet table approach is that the university places the Bible and Christianity on the same level as any other religion or philosophy – that is, on the second level down, not the top. At the top level is the principle of inclusiveness itself, plus each individual’s own powers of judgment and rationalization.

The principle of identity politics

Classical inclusiveness can still be found as a part of the curriculum, at least at some universities. But beginning a few decades ago, a new principle began to replace it: the principle of identity politics. In this new era of education, a certain “identity” would be placed at the top of the scholastic pyramid, with the identity being either the identity of gender or race, or sometimes both combined. All of history, and literature – and even science – would now be seen through the prism of some particular identity. Some particular group of people – all sharing the same “identity” – would critique any piece of art or literature or music and explain how that work related to the personal grievances of their group. Entirely new departments of study sprang up, devoting themselves to women’s studies or gender studies or studies of race.

The “let’s get even” mentality

This principle of identity politics has become firmly entrenched at most universities over a period of several decades – a relatively short period of time. But in recent years it has given birth in a very short time to another principle, which I’m going to call the “let’s get even” principle.

The phrase “to get even” has a double meaning. The literal meaning aligns it with the American ideal of equality. It echoes the ideal of “all men are created equal” and implies that if there is any way in which we observe men to not be equal, then it is the fault of society and we should take steps to “fix” society. In other words, we should bring about a situation in which all people are “even” with each other.

The second meaning of “getting even” is paying someone back for a perceived slight; it harbors the vindictiveness implied in the statement “I’ll get even with you, you so-and-so!” It’s the false justice of the street gang that says, “Let’s loot that store because they charge too much. And remember how the manager called the police when he caught one of our members shoplifting, so we need to get even with him!”

Sadly, this second meaning has ascended to the top of the pyramid in academic thinking. If identity politics reveal some inequality in race or gender, then somebody has to be blamed and “gotten even with.” The street gang mentality has been accorded the status of a principle of justice in the eyes of academic authorities. If a particular group stages a protest, saying they have suffered from some sort of unequal treatment (including any real or imagined verbal “microaggression”), then the university authorities will obsequiously apologize to them and promise to do better next time. Alas, one way the authorities have found to “do better” is to lower academic standards. People of certain races can find entrance to university with lower test scores than other groups; in this way they will “get even” in both senses of the phrase. Feminists and homosexuals can get academic credit by writing “scholarly” papers to prove that Jesus would approve of gay marriage, or to show that the command to “love your neighbor” justifies all sorts of sexual deviance. In these ways they will “get even” with those “hateful” Christian fundamentalists. And so forth.

The “get even” mentality has quickly spiraled out of control and turned into hatred and violence; we see it happening on campuses and in cities across the country. How could this happen? How can teaching about nice-sounding things like equality and diversity and inclusiveness descend into hatred? The key is that God’s laws are ignored; God’s salvation is deemed unneeded; and so the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord is nowhere to be found.

“Let’s get even” has a crucial difference from left-wing ideologies

Even when classical inclusiveness led to universities promoting left-wing ideologies, they still made a pretense of scholarship – studying the writings of Karl Marx or Bertrand Russell or whomever, and writing reports based on what was written. And even the identity-focused studies departments have made a pretense of scholarship – studying the writings of some historical figure and reporting their identity-centered interpretation of what was written. But the “let’s get even” movement is based on feelings – feelings of being oppressed – and eschews logical argument.

Recently a TV reporter was investigating the fate of billions of dollars of federal aid which had been sent to a certain city, but which did not seem to have had much effect on conditions in that city. He invited a city councilman to appear on his program, but when he asked the city councilman about the funds that had seemingly vaporized, the councilman replied, “I’m not here to talk about the money. I’m here to talk about 400 years of institutional racism.” And the councilman just kept repeating his statement about 400 years of racism. To him, that was all that needed to be said; investigating specific facts and figures was beside the point.

His attitude reflects what is going on in academia, and is now seeping into the public forum. Supporting one’s accusations with facts and careful analysis is considered beside the point; the feelings of the “oppressed” minorities – the expressions of grievances, whether real or imagined – are most important. This is a situation which Satan loves, because now he can whisper messages of hate into his subjects’ ears and feel confident that they will not be diverted by rational arguments.

Lack of authority at universities

What the university authorities apparently don’t understand is that their pathetic lack of authority is the final outcome of their own teaching. When students have visited the buffet table of classical thinkers, educators have been telling them (sometimes with deliberate subversion in mind) to browse freely and not be constrained by any rigid traditions or morality. Think for themselves; question authority. Which also means (whether they realize it or not): Question the authority of the university itself. The university has undermined its own claim to authority. The universities long ago abandoned the authority of the Bible and the Christian God; it happened so long ago that returning to that authority never even occurs to them as an option.

Christian parents, beware: When you send your children off to college, their brave new world will be a world of no authority, and that includes parental authority.

Conservatives call for “return to classics”

Many American Christians find themselves aligned with secular conservatives who call for a return to the teaching of the classics at our universities. In other words, they would like to see a return to what I referred to earlier as classical inclusiveness, the buffet table of great ideas. In part, this is because the “great ideas of history” are associated with the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution, which in turn has provided Americans with an amazingly stable government, and has also provided Christians with religious protection. This is a heritage worth preserving, and Christians and others are rightfully concerned that young people will grow up without learning to appreciate and preserve this heritage.

But the buffet table of great ideas also poses dangers which Christians should be aware of. As already pointed out, it reduces Christianity to just one of many ideas, with the mind of the student as sole arbiter of what is true and what is not true. Christian students will be warned against regarding Christianity as containing exclusive truth. Finding some truth in Christianity is okay; but saying there is no way to truth except through Christ is considered something that will inhibit “open dialogue.”

An example of this mindset is found at the “Yale Center for Faith and Culture” established by the Yale Divinity School. The center offers a course for undergraduates which presents works of various philosophers and thinkers, as well as religious texts, so the student can do comparison shopping. The advertised goal of the course is to allow students to find for themselves the ideas that will allow them to live a “good life.” Not a Christian life, but a good life. The starting assumption is that the mind of the teenage student is fully capable of deciding what constitutes a “good life”!

I heard a sermon once by preacher Adrian Rogers, in which he talked about the righteousness of Christ. His theme was that through the death and resurrection of Christ, God has caused the righteousness of Christ to be imputed to us (that is, credited to us). The idea is that we can never be completely good on our own power, since we are born in sin, and since we all “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But if we turn to Christ, his perfect righteousness will be credited to us as though it were our own. This happens only because of God’s mercy, not because of any worthiness on our own part. Rogers pointed out that our human nature tries to prove that we are good on our own, without Christ; but to follow the path of trying to establish our own goodness leads to destruction. Then Rogers made this statement: “The worst form of badness is human goodness.” His point was that “human goodness” tries to lead us around the necessity for repentance from sin and the need for Christ’s salvation. Christians need to be aware that academic pride is always trying to sidestep the fact that truth is to be found in Christ and in Christ alone. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” Jesus said; “no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). And the apostle Paul said, “The wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). Academic pride is always trying to convince us that we can find truth and goodness through our own magnificent brain power. But our brains can’t fix our hearts. We might even paraphrase Rogers and say, “The worst form of ignorance is human wisdom.”

Inclusiveness as a means toward diversity

Universities today are in competition with each other to see who can claim the greatest diversity on campus. As mentioned earlier, this means playing a numbers game to create a kind of anti-diversity, with equal numbers of male and female students, and proportional numbers of people from different races. Those are considered the primary indicators of diversity. But diversity does also mean attracting students from a variety of cultures and geographical locations. The end result of all this diversity could be, predictably, a lot of rough edges and friction between various groups.

But to the rescue comes the principle (some might say the religion) of inclusiveness! Inclusiveness promises to provide a way to establish diversity without conflict. Once all those diverse people understand inclusiveness, the thinking goes, they will all get along with each other. By preaching the new religion of inclusiveness, the university can say in effect, “Everyone continue with your private set of values, as long as your highest value remains inclusiveness. Then there will be no more conflict and everyone on campus will be happy. And when you graduate and go out into the world with this new value system of inclusiveness, then everyone in the world will learn from you how to get along, and there will be no more wars!”

Sure enough, many are graduating into the adult world and raising high the banner of inclusiveness. For some reason, however, conflicts do not seem to be going away.

Inclusiveness and moral values are mutually exclusive

So why is there so much conflict and discontent on “inclusive” college campuses? It seems that instead of resting comfortably in a warm cocoon of inclusiveness, students become confused, then embittered and resentful.

There are two problems with trying to live by the rule of inclusiveness.

The first problem has to do with moral values. The fact is that we all have to make choices in life, and since we are human beings, we make our choices based on our personal values. As soon as my values differ from my neighbor’s values, however, some degree of conflict is inevitable. Values by definition don’t just declare some things to be of high value; they declare other things to be of lower value or of negative value. Values are exclusive. As soon as we establish personal moral values, inclusiveness goes out the door.

Inclusiveness removes God from the moral equation

The second and more fundamental problem with inclusiveness is that it tries to make God and his laws subordinate to a philosophical principle. The reality, however, is that no amount of philosophical or moral debate can remove God from his position as supreme Ruler over all. And God’s laws are absolute and exclusive. Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).

God maintains a gate at the top of the road, blocking the way so Satan’s truck cannot enter the road. But Satan is always sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck, revving the engine, waiting for an opportunity to plow into the crowded street and wreak death and destruction. If we cast God aside and refuse to follow his road signs, God will lift the gate and say to Satan, “Go! Do what you’ve been wanting to do! I give you permission!”

Inclusiveness resorts to compromise

When inclusiveness encounters conflict, it likes to resort to compromise. Inclusiveness likes to help itself by blurring lines of division. Inclusiveness would like to say that those lines are actually dotted lines, they don’t represent hard barriers. It likes to emphasize that it is important to see the other person’s point of view.

A Christian campus ministry at a university I attended invited a doctoral student in theology to speak to a group of undergraduates. The speaker admonished the Christian students never to speak in an “exclusive” way when discussing their religion with people of other faiths. To do so might offend the listeners and would not promote open discussions, he maintained. In other words, set inclusiveness as your highest value, and keep everyone happy. The ordained ministers who organized the event were in complete agreement with the speaker.

But what the speaker was recommending is intellectual dishonesty! Christianity does in fact make exclusive claims (as do most other religions, for that matter). Again I will repeat Jesus’ statement: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” Jesus our savior shed his blood for those exclusive claims. Many Christian martyrs since his crucifixion have shed their blood for those exclusive claims. If we cancel those claims, we are not being true to our faith – we are denying our savior!

Compromise has consequences. When the truck of destruction comes roaring down the road, it will plow effortlessly through any scholarly roadblocks which compromise the Christian gospel.