Some people, including students and faculty, describe the Christian University as a bubble. I’ve done it myself at times. I heard it again this morning from a visiting speaker in our chapel service, but the term needs serious reconsideration.
Let me explain … and be brief.
Beneath the bubble-language lies vague parallels with monasticism. “The Bible College, Christian College, or Christian University seeks to withdraw from society, train its students in isolation from society, before they return to society — wildly unprepared for the secular realities they’ll encounter.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Students on Christian campuses work in the community, commute from the community, and are connected constantly to the community through social media and electronics. There’s no withdrawal possible!
The safe and protected bubble is a myth from past generations.
2. The Kingdom of God is not the bubble; secular culture is.
Perhaps more important, from my perspective, is that bubble-language suggests a distorted view of the Kingdom of God.
Our minds immediately think of a small enclave, an outpost of spiritual focus tucked away from the “real world.”
In reality, Christian Universities do not form safe-zones in an otherwise dangerous world that dominates everything. On the contrary, they represent incursions of the Kingdom of God (which really dominates everything) into the bubble of a tiny secular society!
We’ve been thinking far too small. The bubble is not the University, but society. The Christian University is a glimpse of the greater (and far larger) reality.
3. The Christian University is a beachhead, not a retreat center.
This statement forms a corollary to the last. The Christian University exists, if it understands its purpose and mission correctly, as a beachhead.
Those who would disparage Christian education and Christian institutions accuse them of irrelevance, isolation, and fortressing. Unfortunately, that may be true in some instances. But so many Christian Universities I know provide powerful thought-leadership, civic engagement, and cultural encounter. They exist to participate in the transforming work of God to redeem culture, not hide from it.
I don’t often write about institutional themes like this. It struck me again this morning, however, that careless language diminishes us and minimizes the Kingdom of God. I’m guilty of it. And this post is part of my effort to repent of it. 🙂