This post comes from Dr. Ralph E. Enlow, Jr. in the latest eNews mailout (subscribe here) from ABHE:
A recent Orlando Sentinel under-30 “new voices” guest editorial feature by a 19-year old college student arrested my attention. The young lady is a student in a nearby nominally Christian, historically church-related college. The essay’s headline reads: Divining the presence of God: group think? Reflecting on sociologists Michael Donahue and Bradley Hertel’s assertion that the “collective conscience” effect (postulated by Emil Durkheim) of parental style correlates strongly with children’s image of God, the student posits that the “spiritual energy” associated with the manifest presence of the “Holy Spirit” may be simply an emanation of collective thought. Upon what authority does she base her conclusion? “Ultimately, one’s own personal experiences and beliefs become the judge of Durkheim’s idea.”
Seldom do we witness a more naked acknowledgement of the postmodern worldview’s self-validating subjectivity. What can be known is an unimpeachably personal matter and what can, thus, be asserted as truth is at the same time both speculative and unverifiable. Truth is validated by self-interpreted personal experience, nothing more. Such is the product of higher education from which biblical engagement is absent and in which divine revelation is regarded as intellectually inadmissible.
Whatever else biblical higher education means, it must involve an epistemological commitment to the Bible as a relevant, authoritative source for knowing and to study of the Bible as central to the pursuit of life and truth. We do not make the Bible central to our curricula merely because we are preparing people for church occupations but because deep and lifelong engagement with the Scriptures is the key to every field of human inquiry and flourishing. Study of the Bible must not be merely a curricular supplement; it must be a saturating element. Now more than ever we must neither diminish nor shrink from our commitment to ensure that our education is substantially and functionally biblical higher education. Otherwise, we may become places of religious symbolism and pious sentimentality engaging our students in group think.