During my college
years, and for the two years I served as a teaching assistant in the Western
Civilization department (we called it “History of Civilization” back then), I
reflected a lot on the differences between a secular approach to college
curriculum and the approach of Christian colleges like the one I was
attending. My wife and I both went to
the same Christian college, and we continued to work through these things as we
tried to steer our six children through their own college choices and their own
There is, of course,
the fundamental principle that Jesus Christ is Lord of all knowledge – because knowledge is obviously a huge
part of the universe over which He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Word of God calls Christians to “bring every thought captive to the
obedience of Christ”; but what does that actually look like as we scan the vast
array of subjects taught in any college:
History, science, technology, philosophy, music, art, communications,
business, law, medicine, and so on – and with multiple divisions of
each? What does it mean to see all of
these things together in the framework of “the fear of the Lord” – heart
reverence for God – as “the beginning” – the
foundation and primary part – of all knowledge, wisdom, and
A couple of things
struck me as I reflected on these things.
I don’t know why these particular things stood out in my mind, but they did
– and they still do:
One is the shift in
secondary education from history, geography, and civics – the study of
government – to what we now call Social Studies. That shift came at the
beginning of the 20th century – not coincidentally at a time when
schools were moving away from at least a formal commitment to historic Christianity. History, geography, and civics are – for want of
a better word – objective things that had their source in God. God is the author and governor of history. God is the one who made the world and
each of its distinctive areas. God
is the great Lawgiver and King from whom all governments derive their just powers, and to
which proper respect is to be given because they are powers ordained by God. Social Studies turned the emphasis from God to man. Man, not God, became the reference
point. (Something you see very clearly
in fields like sociology and psychology – which became
specific fields of Social Studies.) And without delving too deeply into what is a fascinating study –
this led to what we call relativism: There
aren’t “absolute truths” with God as their source because humans – human
feelings, human ideas, human morals – and social
groups became the focus. And because
“humankind” is constantly evolving (according to the modern way of thinking),
there are no absolute truths, but only personal
or social constructions – things which may and will change over time.
That led me to the second thing that still
stands out in my mind – particularly as we think of “higher education”. With this kind of world view, technically
there are no “universities”, but, rather, “multiversities”. A university assumes a universal – which means –
literally – all things revolving around one. That One, of course, is the one true and
living God. But, today, secular
education revolves around man or humanity. Each person is unique,
and humankind is constantly changing (again, according to the modern way of
thinking). Therefore, when we think of
secular schools of so-called higher learning we really should
be speaking of “multiversities” – all things revolving around the many
rather than One.
Now there are almost
limitless implications of all of this.
The whole subject is enough to make anyone dizzy. And it would be
interesting to see how this very confusing way of looking at the world plays
out between the different educational departments in secular schools. But that’s not our topic today.
Given that God is One
(and is also Trinity – the three in One God – Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit); and given that this Triune
God is the Creator and Governor of all things – including knowledge: How do we develop education which is rightly
related to this Triune God – seeking to find a unity to all
knowledge as well as seeking to understand the relation of that unity to the many
distinct and diverse fields of knowledge?
That’s the big challenge of developing a truly Christian college
And that’s what we’ll
be exploring on today’s A Visit to the Pastor’s Study: “The Christian College Curriculum”. You’ll need to put on your thinking caps
again; but, if you’re a parent thinking about college for your children (and
you should be doing that!), or parents with children in college; or, if
you’re a college student yourself or a student thinking about college –
this program is for you.
My guest today is
Dr. David Corbin, Vice President for
Academic Affairs at Providence Christian College, overlooking the beautiful San
Gabriel Mountains in Pasadena, California.
Dr. Corbin has taught political philosophy, American politics,
international relations and politics, and politics & literature at the
University of New Hampshire, Boston University, and – for over two decades – at
The King’s College (now located in New York City). He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in
Political Science in 1993, earned his MA in Political Science at the University
of New Hampshire in 1995, and the received his PhD in Political Science from
Boston University in 2005. He is a
member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
fascinating life has included everything from serving a term in the New
Hampshire State Legislature and running as a candidate for governor of that
State, to writing books and articles on ancient and modern politics and
government. He is a Christian who is
committed to historic Protestant and Reformed Christianity (as is Providence
Christian College); and his passion is to develop college curriculum in which each
part demonstrates faithfulness to the Bible as the inspired and inerrant
Word of God, and in which the whole reflects the unity of God – the
source of all knowledge.
We have a
thought-provoking time ahead of us on today’s Visit to the Pastor’s Study!
Remember that this program invites you to
“Visit the Pastor’s Study” by way of your phone calls or texts. To be “on air” as part of the program, just
call (631) 955-5400…. Or you can text your questions (any time
during the week – but particularly for this program) at this number: (516)
367-0391… Put that under Pastor Bill. Even
if we don’t use your text questions today, we’ll try to get to them in a future
Dr. David Corbin – Vice-President for Academic
Affairs at Providence Christian College – welcome to A Visit
to the Pastor’s Study….
Here’s a link to the full program:
Yours in the God of all wisdom and knowledge,