Why Christian Liberal Arts Higher Education Is So Liberal

We are going to have to get off the secularist boat we are on, and get onto a different boat.

A better boat.

Going to a better destination.

Fortunately, the growing incoherence and incompetence of pagan universities — dutifully followed by Christian universities — makes this easy for the forward-seeing.

Those who actually want to have a better understanding of the creation around them, and develop better ways to use it as a Dominion Man, for the Glory of God.

As opposed to those who just want a job hunting license.

This is not innately bad in itself, as a short-term goal to feed a family, and assuming that you don’t need to prostitute yourself or your faith to get it.

But get it cheap, and get it at home. Use CLEP to keep two years of university money (no paywall) in your own wallet.

And, work to build a society where you don’t need a license to get a job. A.k.a. a just, free, Christian society, under the Law of God, not the Law of Powerful and Self-serving Men.

Smash the guilds!

Copy-paste from Gary North’s Remnant Review – Why Christian Liberal Arts Higher Education Is So Liberal

—<Quote begins>—

Remnant Review (Nov. 19, 2011)

Higher education in the United States is run by an enormously influential special-interest group. As of 2011, the total money expended on higher education in the USA each year is in the range of $450 billion. It will be up to half a trillion dollars a year within a few years.

What do people get for their money? A great deal of debt, a degree that in most cases is worth very little money in terms of a starting salary, and the illusion that the newly certified graduates have had anything like a higher education.

Tax-subsidized college education is considerably less expensive for students than private college education. In most cases, the cost of attending state university is about half of what it costs to attend a conventional private university. It costs perhaps one-third of what it costs to attend an Ivy League university or its academic equivalent. The bulk of the cost in public universities is not tuition; it is room, board, and textbooks.

It is possible to get a bachelors degree in most liberal arts fields, though not the natural sciences, through distance learning for about $12,000 total (not per year). It might cost $15,000, but it will not cost very much more than this. The discrepancy between the cost of an education through distance learning versus the cost of on-campus education has nothing to do with the quality of the education, which is third rate in both cases. It has everything to do with marketing.

The average high school student is unaware of the fact that he never has to leave home in order to get his degree. His parents are also unaware of this. Of course, most of the students want to get away from home, and want subsidies from their parents to live in a low-responsibility environment for five or six years. The parents will shell out anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000, if the student attends a public university, and up to $250,000 if he attends an Ivy League university. Yet the value of each degree at the time of graduation is approximately the same, that is, not worth very much. Basically, the kids get party time for five or six years at their parents’ expense, and it is all justified in the name of higher education. (I am not speaking of engineering or chemistry, which few students major in.)

It is a gigantic scam, and the parents are responsible. The parents pay for it, and the old rule is true: he who pays the piper calls the tune. The parents are manipulated by their children into believing that they owe their children five years of parties. The peers of the parents also put pressure on them, because the peers are doing the same thing with their own children. This goes on, year after year, decade after decade.

The debauchery that has taken place since the 1970s is of such a nature that those of us who went to school in the 1950s and even early 1960s can hardly comprehend it. It is not just that they have mixed dormitories. Today, some schools, including some Ivy League schools, now have mixed rooms. That’s right, folks: the boyfriend and girlfriend live in the same dorm room together. This is considered avant-garde. This is not considered an affront to the morality of the parents, who are funding the entire debauched situation. The parents don’t care, and the kids think it’s the best thing that could possibly happen to them.

Ancient Traditions

The degree of the campus debauchery is greater today than it has ever been in the past. But it is naïve to think that there is anything fundamentally new about this. Stories of the debauchery of college life go back 800 years. From the very beginnings of the university, male students went into the towns and purchased the services of prostitutes. Male students have always had money in their pockets, even when those pockets were in black gowns. There have always been young women and tavern keepers who have been skilled in separating this money from the pleasure-loving students. To think that what we see today is in principle any different from what parents saw — or chose not to see — in the 12th century is simply naïve. The parents were naïve in the 12th century, and the parents are naïve today.

The university has always been a place of debauchery. It is debauchery in the broadest sense, by which I mean spiritual and intellectual debauchery. From the very first university, which was a specialized law school, the University of Bologna, the state has had a stake in the operation of the curriculum. The state took the graduates of the colleges and put them in charge of the state’s multiplying bureaucracies. The students could read, and they could handle arithmetic, which made them excellent bureaucrats.

The main rival to the state in seeking the services of college graduates was the church. The church used the graduates to staff its bureaucratic positions. Literacy was a valuable skill, and very few people possessed it. Advanced literacy was extremely rare, and a student who possessed it had a guaranteed lifelong appointment.

From the very beginning of the university, parents have been paying to have their children certified by a system of self-regulated, self-policed bureaucrats. The idea that parents sent their sons off to become scholars in the 12th century is as naïve as the idea that parents do the same today. From the very beginning of the university, the main goal of the parents was to secure permanent employment for their sons. The sons got appointments because they possessed unique skills that were normally only available in a college environment. The students were certified. Both the church and the state wanted to hire the graduates of the university system.

Because higher education has always been mainly about securing future income, it has always been a threat to Christian orthodoxy. From the very beginning, the universities claimed a separate jurisdiction. This is why students and graduates were allowed to wear black robes. Black robes, then as now, were a mark of sovereignty. The person who had the right to wear a robe possessed immunity from other institutions of law enforcement. The church was such an institution, and so was the state. From the very beginning, universities claimed a separate jurisdiction from both church and state that entitled them, the universities insisted, to teach whatever doctrines were acceptable to the teachers in the universities. This is a form of academic freedom, and it was not invented by the Prussian universities in 1820. It goes back to the very beginning of higher education in Western Europe. The professors wanted the right to teach doctrines that were in opposition to what the church taught, and they did so in the name of a higher calling, a higher form of knowledge.

The college system came into existence simultaneously with the arrival of Aristotelian manuscripts that were translated out of Arabic into Latin. Islamic scholars had access to Greek manuscripts that contained what we today call classical education. They translated these manuscripts into Arabic. They also insisted on immunity from the religious hierarchy of the caliphate. They were not able to gain this completely, nor were universities in the West able to gain it completely, but they gained more immunity and therefore more sovereignty than any other institutions in the medieval world. The aura of near-divine knowledge was attached to Greek philosophy.

Jerusalem and Athens

The rivalry between Jerusalem and Athens began in the centuries prior to the birth of Christ. Those Jews who became defenders of Greek wisdom found that they could not operate successfully under the rule of either the Pharisees or the Sadducees. They insisted on a higher form of knowledge, which supposedly was manifested by Greek philosophy. The movement in retrospect is called Hellenism. It was named after Helen of Troy. The Hellenists were the liberal Jews of their day.

This tradition of Hellenism has extended into the modern world. It is the tradition of independence from any system of knowledge based on an assertion of revelation from God. The same rivalry goes back to Athens itself. Socrates made a similar claim in the midst of Athenian society, and the Athenian court, by a narrow majority, sentenced him either to death or exile. He chose death. They saw him as undermining the religious order. The supernatural order was taken very seriously in Athens and all Greek city-states. It was taken very seriously in the West until the early decades of the 20th century.

The respect shown to Greek knowledge began to fade in the late 19th century. New systems of logic, new approaches to understanding the world around us, new presuppositions about the nature of nature replaced the logic of classical antiquity. But the principle remains the same: the separate jurisdiction of the university based on the university’s claim that it has access to superior wisdom, superior knowledge, and superior ways of understanding the world. This claim is as defiant today as it was in the 12th century, or in Athens in the fourth century before Christ.

When Oliver Cromwell came into power in England in the early 1650s, he became chancellor of Oxford University. He made no attempt to restructure the curriculum of the university. There was never any attempt on the part of the Puritans to offer a rival curriculum to that which had been taught at the universities for half a millennium. The same old curriculum reflected the same old presuppositions regarding the superiority of Greek logic over biblical revelation. For all of his power, Cromwell knew that it was an impossible task for him to attempt to impose a reconstructed curriculum in the university. In any case, there was no such reconstructed curriculum to impose. The Puritans were as tied to the logic of autonomous man as their Anglican predecessors had been. Their Anglican predecessors had been equally dependent upon the categories of Greek logic as medieval scholastics were. At every university, Athens reigned supreme over Jerusalem.

Because Christians until the 1960s had never gone to the Bible in search of presuppositions regarding any field of higher education, Christians have been faced from the beginning by a rival system of knowledge to pass on to their children. They have hired tutors who have graduated from universities. There have been different fads of education in the universities over the years, but there has never been any attempt by Christians to reconstruct the first principles of education in terms of biblical revelation. Always, there has been a compromise with the logic of autonomous man.

This has not been confined to Christians. Muslims have faced the same problem. Orthodox Jews have faced it. The response of orthodox Muslims has been to avoid higher education. Their schools are tied to the Koran rather than contemporary academic fields. Orthodox Jews have long been suspicious of the universities. They have seen the threat to their communities of sending their young men into a university environment. One of the best books and movies on this conflict is The Chosen.

The university has always offered education on this basis: anyone who enters the university system of authority must give up the idea of appealing to any source of knowledge outside the confines of the university and its system of hierarchical enforcement. The professors have been willing to teach the sons of families that defend supernatural religions. They have been willing to certify these sons. But the price has always been the same: an admission of subordination to the prevailing academic fads on campus. There is no legitimate appeal to supernatural religion, or to world and life views that do not begin with the assumption of the autonomy of nature, including the mind of man.

The university has always been a place of subordination, as is the case in every organized institution. This subordination is confessional. The confession is clear: the logic of man supersedes the revelation of God. In cases where there is a perceived incompatibility between the two sources of knowledge, the logic of man is always superior in the classroom. Anyone who wishes to be certified by the university system must submit operationally to this confession. There is no open swearing of faith to this confession, but there is unquestionably a system of hierarchical authority to which are attached sanctions for the enforcement of the confession.

Parents who imagine that they can safely send their children into this rival system of authority are naïve. They are dangerously naïve. They have been naïve for 800 years. There has always been great risk. The difference today is this: they now send their daughters into this environment as well as their sons. The temptation for the daughters is to become unpaid whores. The young women of the medieval world and the Renaissance who functioned as prostitutes to service the young men in the local colleges got paid for their services. Today, because the college campuses seem to the parents as a way to get their daughters married off to men with some kind of economic future — the famous MRS degree — the daughters become competitors with each other to serve the men. Today, the typical college has a 55% to 45% ratio of women to men. This places extreme pressure on the women to provide sexual favors to the men. The men know it, and the men are in a position to demand it.

Christian Higher Education

We come now to the consideration of the modern Christian college. Officially, in 1790, all of the colleges in the United States were Christian. But, when Harvard College in 1805 hired a Unitarian to teach moral philosophy, it became clear to the Christians of New England that a fundamental change was taking place in higher education. It was in response to that that Jedediah Morse (Samuel F. B.’s father), a Calvinistic Congregationalist, invented the theological seminary. It was Andover seminary. He proposed that young men still attend Harvard College, but, after graduation, they had to go through another three years of advanced theological training, in order to undo the theological and moral education they had received at Harvard. In other words, there was no attempt on the part of Morse and his colleagues to reconstruct the curriculum of Harvard College. There was no attempt to raise the funds to start a new college. The thought of sending them to Yale was unthinkable, because they were all graduates of Harvard. So, they added another three years of higher education, and another three years of tuition expenses, on top of a very expensive program of higher education. This so impressed the Presbyterians that they started their own seminary in Princeton, New Jersey in 1811: known ever since as Princeton Theological Seminary.

The result was the loss of America west of the Alleghenies after 1800 to the Baptists and Methodists. It cost so much to get an education in the mainline denominations that any graduate of the seminary knew he would be paid something like $1,000 a year by a large church. The Baptists were paid nothing, and they were not required to attend college. The Methodists were supposed to be paid about $60 a year, but most of the time they were not paid. So, they became itinerant preachers and circuit riders, each serving half a dozen churches, and allowing elders to rule the local congregations most of the time. The Baptists and Methodists multiplied congregations rapidly, and Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians were confined mostly to the East Coast and the west’s cities. The educational requirements to become a minister were so great East of the Alleghenies that the country went Baptist and Methodist west of the Alleghenies, except in urban areas where Roman Catholics became influential.

Today, upper-middle-class evangelical parents are willing to indebt themselves and basically sacrifice their retirement savings in order to send their children off to church-related colleges and universities. Most of these institutions went secular humanist in the early 20th century. The mainline denominational colleges are as liberal as any state university. But, a comparative handful of evangelical parents fervently pray, their little denominational college has not gone the way of all flesh.

In fact, it went the way of all flesh the day it applied for accreditation by one of the six regional accrediting organizations. These agencies are run, and always have been run, by secular humanists. The parents demand that the colleges be accredited, which means a demand that the colleges crawl on their bellies institutionally, begging for certification by the secular humanists. So, on the one hand, the parents recognize that the children are threatened by the ideology of secular humanism, and threatened to such an extent that the parents are willing to pay fortunes so their children can attend institutions not equally corrupted (they think). But, at the same time, they demand that the institutions corrupt themselves ideologically, even though they supposedly are not going to corrupt themselves sexually and confessionally.

The presumption is that there is a neutral system of education that is dominant in the accrediting associations. This supposedly neutral system of education will therefore be applied in a fair and just basis by the secular humanists who run the associations. They will not require the Christians to conform to the confession of faith which has been dominant in higher education ever since the day Socrates got out of the stonemason business to set up his study group. The confession is: “All those who enter here abandon God.”

The parents assume that, even in ancient Athens, there was neutral education. This is why there is this bizarre attempt to create something that never has existed, namely, Christian classical education, or classical Christian education. It was always Athenian education, and it was never Christian. From the day that the early church apologists adopted the categories of Greek philosophy in order to defend the faith, there has been a snake loose inside the highest levels of the church. The snake is not poisonous. The snake is like an anaconda. It squeezes its victims to death and then eats them.

The parents believe that none of the presuppositions that govern Socratic philosophy and Athenian culture in any way shape the structure and content of classical education. Very few Christians are aware of the reigning presuppositions of Athenian society in the days of Socrates. If they did understand this, they would be horrified. But, even if they were horrified at the presuppositions, they would still assume that, somehow, the content and form of classical education had nothing to do with the reigning presuppositions of Athenian society. They would assume that there is a neutral area of wisdom standing above both Athens and Jerusalem, and that the way to truth is the Athenian way, a technical way, which in no way was the result of the crucial foundations of classical society.
,br>Five Foundations of Classical Greece

The first principle of classical society was polytheism. Classical society self-consciously affirmed faith in spirits and ghosts and similar apparitions that dwelt in close proximity to man. The society rested on constant rituals to placate these spiritual beings. “Keep the home fires burning” points back to the hearth. The fire was never supposed to go out. Wives had to keep the fires going. Even Socrates refused to break entirely with this outlook. He insisted that he and his own personal demon would check the logic of his arguments, enabling him to be sure he was arguing in a logical way. This is not talked about in university classrooms, but Socrates explicitly said that this was the case. Plutarch wrote an essay on this.

The next presupposition of Greek society was the productivity of war. The story of the Iliad was the central story of Greek society. Warfare was basic to classical Greece, and heroics in warfare were considered the highest form of service. The hero was so honored that people believed that he could become a god. Classical society was based on strife. The Olympics were merely one aspect of it. In some cases, the boxers fought until one of them was killed.

Then there was pederasty. Men in their 30s or older took homosexual partners from teenagers who were attending the gymnasia. On school days, the young man walked to school, and older men looked them over in order to make offers to them after school. The after-school favors were sexual, and this lasted for years. This institution was basic Greek society. The wives put up with it. True love was between an older man and a homosexual teenager. Christian parents are completely unaware of this, and even if they knew, they would shrug it off. They would say that this has nothing to do with the content of classical education. In other words, classical education somehow developed out of the society which Christian parents would regard as debauched, but somehow was completely impervious to its own origins.

Then there was the welfare state. In Socratic Athens, something in the range of one-third of the citizenry received public money in some form. This vast welfare state eventually undermined the ability of Athens to fight a successful war against Sparta. Sparta, in contrast, was not a welfare state; it was an armed camp. It was a warfare state.

Finally, there was slavery. At least one-third of the Athenian population was slaves. They did the dirty work. They did the hard work. They did the manual labor. It was considered a disgrace for a free citizen of Athens to be involved in the trades. He could own a slave, the slave could be in the trades, but the master was not supposed to be. This really was basic classical education. Socrates gave up manual labor in order to become a philosopher. He never went back to manual labor.

Christian parents may vaguely be aware of some of this, but they do not care. They do not care, because they have a philosophy of education that says that the content and form of classical education has nothing to do with the historical, theological, and moral roots of classical Greece. This, too, was basic to Socratic wisdom. The Greek philosophers believed that there is a separate realm, called the realm of ideas, that exists apart from historical change. Somehow, the world of historical change is governed by, and related to, this separate sphere of timeless models. The models do not participate in the hurly-burly affairs of history. Truth is the pursuit of knowledge regarding these models. In other words, the models are timeless. The models were not the product of Greek society; they provided coherence to Greek society.

Then what of creation? There never was any. Then what of God’s sovereignty over the world? He doesn’t exist. Or, as Aristotle put it in his book on physics, God is thought thinking itself, completely independent of the world. Aristotle was an early Deist. Such a God does not reveal himself verbally. He has not left a written record of his acts in history. Such a revelation has no authority in classical education. Yet Christians are convinced that there can be a Christian classical education, and some of them spend money to provide curriculum materials based on the presupposition that such a compromise between Jerusalem and Athens is possible. Then, perhaps having nearly bankrupted themselves in order to send their children into a private Christian school that teaches the so-called Christian classical education, they go on to impoverish their retirement by sending their children off to some Christian college.

The Modern Christian Curriculum

Does the Christian college teach a classical curriculum? Not unless it is very traditional and very Roman Catholic. All Protestant colleges have long since abandoned any suggestion that classical education is binding on the modern university. That went out with high-button shoes in the late 19th century.

Then what do the Christian colleges teach? They are not really sure. They do not teach classical education, and they do not openly teach Darwinism, because that might get members of the board of trustees upset, and people might stop sending in donations. So, they teach the conclusions of Darwinism, and they teach the techniques of Darwinian science in the classroom, but they never call it Darwinism.

Liberal arts colleges are liberal. They are liberal in the 20th-century sense of liberalism. The faculty members are mostly Democrats. The Republicans hold to some version of the welfare state. They hold the traditional Republican position, namely, a defense of whatever the Democrats got passed by Congress and signed into law 20 years ago. Their position is, “we, too, but more slowly.”

The faculty members of an accredited Christian liberal arts college are supposed to have PhD degrees. These degrees must be granted by accredited universities. In other words, the content and structure of education, academic field by academic field, is provided by the secular humanist universities. Any student who rebels against these principles is not granted a PhD in most cases. In most cases, he doesn’t even get into the graduate school program. If he does get in, he leaves in disgust. The only way around this is to find some narrow sphere of intellectual activity that is not forthrightly and openly hostile to the reigning presuppositions of the humanists who run the universities. (That’s what I did.) The students are forced to run the gauntlet, and the PhD gauntlet usually takes anywhere from 5 to 8 years of education beyond a bachelor’s degree. The students are screened, and screened systematically. This has been true ever since Johns Hopkins University set up the first PhD program in the late 1870s. The most famous graduate of that program was Woodrow Wilson. He was a faithful defender of the presuppositions of that program.

It was not by accident that, in the fall of 1876, the president of Johns Hopkins invited Thomas Huxley, known as Darwin’s bulldog, to give the inaugural address. The school had opened the previous spring, but the fall term was to set the pattern for the university system from that time on. The president, Daniel Gilpin, had arrived from California. He had been the president of the University of California. Having set up that program, he went east to set up the program at Johns Hopkins. He was quite systematic in terms of his program. He was going to use the PhD to remove retired pastors from college faculties. The faculties were, for the most part, staffed by former ministers of Protestant churches. To the extent that the PhD would be used as a screening device for future faculty members, that degree would be stripped of all traces of Christianity.

The big push to get PhD’s came from John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Rockefeller, following the advice of the extremely liberal Baptist pastor who advised him, Frederick W. Gates, set up the General Education Board in 1902. The Board began to make large grants to private colleges, but with this stipulation: the college would have to hire one or more PhD’s onto the faculty. They took the money, and the PhD became increasingly entrenched as a required degree for college teaching. After World War II, the requirement became virtually universal for accreditation of four-year institutions.

Step-by-step, the humanists have eliminated Christianity from the curriculum materials in almost every accredited university or college in the United States. This was systematic. They were funded by rich alumni, most of whom were not theologically rigorous, and also by the state. The few self-conscious Christians who understood what was being done nevertheless cooperated with the process.

What Wilson did at Princeton, Charles Eliot had done a generation earlier at Harvard. John D Rockefeller, Sr., did this from the beginning when he created the University of Chicago. First, Wilson quietly politicked to get the Board to persuade Calvinist minister Francis L. Patton to resign in 1902. Patton took over as the figurehead president of Princeton Seminary — no connection — across the street. The Board gave him a huge severance bonus. In short, they bought him off. Here is what happened next, according to Princeton.

When President Patton was persuaded to retire in June 1902, the trustees with one accord elected Wilson to fill the chair of Witherspoon and McCosh. In his first report to the Board of Trustees, the new president presented a program, to cost $12.5 million, to transform Princeton into a major university. Substantial sums were not forthcoming, so Wilson moved slowly. He tightened academic standards so severely that enrollment declined sharply until 1907. Princeton had no administrative structure to speak of in 1902. One of Wilson’s first actions was the creation of departments of instruction with heads directly responsible to the president. He later arranged the creation of new deanships of the departments of science and of the college. At the same time, he took the effectual power of faculty nominations out of the control of the Trustees’ Curriculum Committee and lodged it in the president and departments.

These innovations were a prelude to more far-reaching changes. In 1904, Wilson led the faculty in instituting the most significant curricular reform in American higher education in the twentieth century. In place of the aimless, free elective system, which had heretofore prevailed at Princeton as at other institutions, Wilson substituted a unified curriculum of general studies during the first two years, capped by concentrated study in one discipline (the first program for a major) and related fields during the junior and senior years. There was the added provision of an honors program for ambitious students. The following year, 1905, Wilson revolutionized the teaching system. Supported by the first organized yearly alumni fund-raising campaign in Princeton’s history, Wilson overnight doubled the faculty by the appointment of almost fifty assistant professors called preceptors. They were to be the companions and guides of undergraduates. Instead of memorizing lecture notes and textbooks, students would master fields of knowledge through guided reading and small-group discussion. With a remarkable eye for quality, Wilson assembled what was probably the finest young faculty anywhere. Out of this group came many of the professors and administrators who later made Princeton renowned among the universities of the world.

Wilson supported Dean Henry B. Fine 1880, in strengthening the science program, insisting all the while that research in science should be pure research. He took biblical instruction out of the hands of a fundamentalist and appointed a scholar in his place. He broke the hold of conservative Presbyterians over the Board of Trustees, and symbolic of this change was a 1906 Board resolution that formally declared Princeton a non-sectarian institution. He appointed the first Jew and Roman Catholic to the faculty. He was instrumental in the addition to the physical plant of three buildings for instruction (McCosh Hall, Palmer Laboratory, Guyot Hall), four dormitories (Seventy-Nine, Patton, Campbell, and Holder Halls), the gymnasium and Lake Carnegie, the faculty room in Nassau Hall, the FitzRandolph gateway, and the Mather sundial. The University also acquired the Springdale golf links, 221 acres of valuable real estate.

He quit in 1910 to run for governor of New Jersey. Then he became President. He re-shaped the nation. He was systematic in his pursuit of power.

As the accreditation system extended across the nation, all accredited colleges to one degree or another were restructured in terms of the vision of Woodrow Wilson. It had preceded Wilson, but he was the very incarnation of the system. He knew this, and he acted accordingly.

Outside, Looking In

I’m now going to tell some stories. They used to call these “stories told out of school.” This is exactly what these stories are. They happened to me, and I want to share them, to give you some idea of what accreditation has done to Christian college instruction in the United States. But, remember, the accreditation ideal goes back to the very first colleges that were set up in the 12th century. What we see today is only an extension of the accrediting system that started eight centuries ago.

In the spring of 1971, I began looking for a teaching position. I had not yet finished my PhD dissertation, but I had progressed far enough to get recommendations from my professors. The PhD glut had made its appearance in the spring of 1969. It had been foreseen by senior men in university education, and I had even been warned four years before that it was going to take place. The president of the University of California, Clark Kerr, told a group of us that this was going to happen, and it happened right on schedule.

Anyone with a degree in the humanities from that point on was in trouble. There were not many teaching positions available, and the few that were available would be gobbled up by graduates of the major Ivy League universities. So, when I got a request to become a candidate to teach at the James Madison College inside Michigan State University, I decided to give it a try. I was required to give a presentation, and I remember it very clearly. It was on medical practice in the United States.

Because I was going to Michigan anyway, and because a small Christian college, Spring Arbor, was just a few miles away from Michigan State, I decided to put an application in there, too. I was able to do this, because I knew one of the faculty members, Ed Coleson. He was a Christian, and he really did attempt to bring Christian values and theology into his work as an historian. He got me an interview with the president of the college.

At that interview, the president was very clear. He was determined to turn Spring Arbor College into a first-rate college. This was an impossible task, of course. The list of first-rate colleges does not change. The top 12 colleges 50 years ago are still the top 12 colleges today. The top 12 universities 50 years ago are still the top 12 universities today. The rankings below maybe three or four on the list may change a little bit, but the names don’t change. The likelihood that an obscure, underfunded college in the frozen wastes of Michigan was going to become a significantly better academic institution was unlikely.

He made it clear to me that nobody who did not have a PhD would ever be given a full-time position at the college. He pointed out to me that a particular teacher of mathematics had only a masters degree, and while he was a first-rate teacher, well-liked by the students, and effective in the classroom, he was not going to have his contract renewed much longer. If he did not get a PhD, he was finished at Spring Arbor. Because I had not yet received the PhD, he told me quite openly, “I am not sure you meet the standards of this college.”

I had a ready answer for him. I said the following: “The reason why I am candidate here is that I have had an offer at Michigan State. I thought perhaps I might be able to come up once in a while to teach a course, if I have the time.” Instantly, he replied, “You certainly meet the qualifications for this school.” At that point, the school did not meet my qualifications.

I met the man again in the early 1980s. He was no longer a college president. He worked on Pat Robertson’s staff. He approached me during a visit to the school, where I had a meeting with Robertson. He introduced himself, and he told me that he was the person who interviewed me at Spring Arbor. He told me openly that he had not even been a Christian at that point. I fully believed him, but it would not have made any difference if he had been. I am convinced that college presidents are by nature a unique biological combination: half chameleon and half jellyfish. He was simply a college president, and he did what college presidents do.

I did not join the faculty at Michigan State. I took a job paying twice as much at the Foundation for Economic Education. I left in March, 1973. I had quit to take a job with a coin sales company, but I soon quit that job, too. I disagreed with their sales policies. I was visiting my parents in Eugene, Oregon. In Eugene, there was a little school called Northwest Christian College. I decided I would go in and see if there would be a job for me teaching economics. Somehow, I did get an interview with the president of the college. He told me, in a most refreshingly honest manner, that they did not offer any course in economics. “If any student wants to take a course in economics, we just send him next door to the University of Oregon. We send all of our students there to get academic courses. The only exception to this is anthropology.”

He was at least partially self-conscious. My father-in-law, R.J. Rushdoony, always said that the closer you get to God, the more the battle will be with the humanists. Because man is made in the image of God, he said, the more closely you study man, the more there is going to be conflict with the humanists. While the college president apparently did not understand that this applied to all of the social sciences, he did understand that it applied to anthropology.

This approach was self-conscious. We read on Wikipdeia,

Northwest Christian University is located in east Eugene, separated from the larger University of Oregon by the width of a single lane street. Founder Eugene Sanders envisioned a school at which students would study the Bible and principles of Christian ministry under NCC’s faculty, but take other subjects on the neighboring campus, a model he also attempted to set up at Manhattan Christian College, located near Kansas State University. The University of Oregon and Northwest Christian College maintained this arrangement until 1995, when the University of Oregon unilaterally discontinued it, forcing NCC to become a comprehensive liberal arts college.

The school did not change its strategy voluntarily. It was saving money by the gobs. The University of Oregon shut down the gravy train.

Let us move on. In 1976, a friend of mine who knew I was still interested in college teaching made me an offer. He said that if I could get an appointment at a college, he would fund my salary. That was certainly a good opportunity. I began shopping. What I discovered during that shopping trip confirmed once again that the university system has its own rules, and those rules have to do with the confession of faith that is required for faculty members at accredited universities.

My first attempt was Grove City College. I knew Hans Sennholz, the chairman of the department of economics. I thought that perhaps there was an opportunity there, because I had spoken on occasion at the college. I knew the president of the college. He seemed affable, and he generally seemed supportive of the economics department, which was openly Austrian school in orientation. Sennholz would have been happy to have me, but he was not in the position to make me an offer on his own authority. I had to have the president of the college run interference with the bureaucracy in order to get the position. But he turned me down. He never explained exactly why, because he spoke in the language of college presidents. But he made it clear that, even at zero price, I was too expensive.

I had another opportunity at Furman University in South Carolina. I was brought in to lecture to faculty members to see if I qualified. This is a good policy. I think every applicant to a teaching position should be required to submit five or six classroom lectures, as well as speak on the campus in the final screening process. Schools don’t do this, and for very good reason: they are not interested in good teaching. Whether a person is effective in the classroom or not is irrelevant; the question is his politics. Also, in the research universities, how many articles has he published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Furman was officially a Baptist University until 1992. In my day, it was famous only for one thing: it was where Frank Selvy had played basketball in the mid-1950s. Known as the “Furman flash,” he remains the only NCAA Division 1 college player ever to score 100 points in a basketball game. (Astoundingly, two weeks before, Bevo Francis had scored 113 against Hillsdale. Francis played for Rio [RYE-oh] Grand College, which was not Division 1. No other college players in an NCAA-recognized game have ever done this. Francis also scored 116 against a junior college.) I did not get the offer. Getting me free of charge was just too expensive for Furman.

That led me to a third school. I’m not going to tell you the name of the school. I will simply tell you that it puts the jerk into knee-jerk liberalism. It is expensive. Its constituency is conservative evangelicals. I was invited to speak at the campus by students. (I have never been invited to speak at any campus by the faculty.) The chairman of the department of economics invited me to teach a couple of classes, which I did. Then I told him about the man who made the offer to pay my salary. I said that I’d be willing to come and teach free of charge in his department. He thought that was a good idea, and he made me an offer right there. Then he told the administration.

I soon got a letter from the administration, which I still have in my files, informing me that the offer was hereby rescinded, because the chairman of the department of economics had recently resigned. What the letter did not tell me, which I learned from sources on campus, is that the chairman was so upset by the fact that the school would not confirm his offer, even though it would not cost anything to bring me in, that he quit to teach at a Christian college in the same city.

Knowing this, I could not resist. I sent a letter back to the president of the college telling him that, since there was no longer a chairman of the department, I was hereby applying to become chairman. I of course never heard back from them. I did not expect to.

The same school later hired the person closest to my views in economics. He has written numerous books, and is a first-rate scholar. He was once a research assistant to the great economist Julian Simon, and Simon was so impressed with him that he let him work on editing one of his books. The social science faculty despised his views. They advised students not to take his courses. After a few years, he grew tired of the games, and he quit to take another teaching position. He remains a prominent leader in the anti-global warming community.

This college charges a small fortune to naïve parents who send their children to be indoctrinated by political liberals in the name of Jesus.

Recently, a man I know visited the campus. He said that there had been a break in the sewer pipe system that the college used. He had been there when the repairman came and fixed it. He said that he had seen used condoms in the pipe. This is apparently the campus’ version of Paul’s affirmation: “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Billy Bob and Jennie Sue, after fervent prayer, regularly become even more fervent.

This is reality of Christian higher education. Christian liberal arts education is liberal. Conservative parents send their children to these schools in the vain hope that the schools will not be as liberal as the far less expensive state universities that are closer to home. They send these children off to be indoctrinated in the name of Jesus by people who are as committed to the humanist agenda as any state university faculty. But, in order to keep the donors happy, the professors baptize the humanism to make it more palatable. A spoonful of Jesus makes the medicine go down.

If you think I am totally cynical about Christian higher education, you apparently have an IQ above 100.

A Cheap, Effective Solution

I tell parents that the best way to get their kids through college is fast and cheap. I think the best way is for a student to take all of his college work is a homeschool program. I know a young man who did just this. His birthday present to himself at 18 was a bachelor’s degree from Edison State College. It cost a total of about $11,000 to get the degree. He is not making a lot of money with the degree, but neither are most of the liberal arts graduates of the Ivy League schools whose parents paid $250,000 for their degrees.

Get through college cheap and get through fast. If the student stays home, gets a part-time job in a local business, and takes his course work through distance learning, he can get through college in four years, and maybe three years. He can get an apprenticeship position with a small business where he can learn the basics of operating a successful small business. He pays his way through school. Parents pay nothing.

If parents want to give the child a graduation present of $25,000, that is probably a good idea. But they risk nothing during the interim. If he flunks out, or if he just gets tired and quits, the parents have spent nothing. Otherwise the student gets a nice graduation present, and he can use that to start a small business, or travel for a year, or go to graduate school. The point is, the money has not gone to fund the gigantic lie that Christian liberal arts education constitutes.

Some Christian parent may say that he does not believe in state funding of education. Fine; he can enroll the student at Excelsior College, which used to be state-funded, but which made the transition to private college. It is entirely online.

Why any parent would spend $100,000 to send his child to a Christian liberal arts college that baptizes secular humanism, uses secular humanist textbooks, does not provide step-by-step refutations of those textbooks, and awards the student with a liberal arts degree that is virtually useless in today’s job market, is a mystery to me. But parents do it, year after year, oblivious to the reality of campus life.

The whole thing is a scam. It is a self-interested scam of self-policed bureaucrats who enjoy monopoly income because the state licenses them, and gives them exclusive power to grant accredited degrees. It is all based on state power.

When the checks finally stop coming from Washington, most of the private colleges that have become dependent upon tuition paid by students and parents who have taken out federal loans will find the gravy train has ended. I expect most of them to go out of business. It cannot happen soon enough to please me.


Posted on April 18, 2022. Published originally on November 18, 2011.

The original is here.

—<Quote ends>—


2 thoughts on “Why Christian Liberal Arts Higher Education Is So Liberal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.