Comments on: A Jewel in the Crown of North America: Christian Higher Education (Bartholomew, Winter 2019)
Craig Bartholomew’s piece is full of good points but is missing crucial principles and practicalities. Appropriately to the new leader of KLICE, much of the article is really about public ethics generallyin this country, not specifically universities.
- There is no University without viable numbers of students in each Major offered. Where is the evidence for demand for a Christian University giving Bachelors degrees in the UK?
- What are the differences in curriculum between Christian Universities and other Universities in the same State or region in USA?. To cut to one of the chases Craig sets, here is the curriculum for a required course in the Biology Major at Calvin College (!which becomes Calvin University next Wednesday). “Students examine the basic concepts in ecological and evolutionary biology, and their use to gain insights into adaptive features. Topics include: population genetics and ecology, evolutionary development and speciation, phylogenetics and genomics, adaptive biology, ecosystem dynamics, and biodiversity. Students develop critical thinking skills by applying those concepts to solve biological problems and learn scientific communication skills. They also critically examine Christian perspectives of evolution and environmental stewardship.” Note that it is students (not teachers) who “critically examine Christian perspectives of [sic: ?on] evolution (and environment stewardship)” – just as any Christian student does in the UK on a Biosciences BSc. If a British student shows s/he understands the coursework in posing a question about human biology, tutorial support will be provided by almost any biology lecturer (to the student finding their own answers. (By the way, that has nothing to do with that university’s religious position or lack of it: it is simply the (“secular”) public ethics of diversity and freedom of speech – which I note that Calvin C/U also professes.)
- It is illegal in the UK to hire anyone on their faith position (except to an official position within a faith organisation).
- A Christian University in this country has been advocated for a couple of decades at least. The advocacy has been weakened by confusion about the concept of a University, as well as by lack of agreement about the logistics, let alone the finance, of starting a new institution of higher education. One confusion I have characterised as being between a Lay Seminary and a HE (or FE) institution with a Christian ethos. One logistic is to build on (a merger of) existing institution(s) – as Calvin College did, and many British universities, including Liverpool Hope. Thirdly, Craig does not mention the good number of Bible Colleges and Theological Colleges in the UK where trainees for PSE/RE school teaching and church ministry/mission take the degrees of a non-Christian university. As those professions widen their scope, so those colleges might broaden and expand their intake and graduates’ destinations while keeping their faith basis strongly enough to be able to employ Christian teaching staff.
- Is there a hidden agenda where “Christian” is really intended to mean Reformed or even Evangelical