With secular education so thoroughly corrupted by grossly immoral philosophy, liberal politics, and evolutionary theory, one seriously questions why Christian young people are frequently advised to attend such institutions. Despite some occasional issues of accreditation, Christian schools can offer such benefits as: (1) excellent academic training, (2) healthy environment for social interaction, (3) opportunity for development of talents in Christian service experience, and (4) prospects for spiritual friendships and potential marriage partners. Nevertheless, Christian colleges pose some serious issues of their own.
It has been with a great deal of concern that we have monitored the sad example set by two leading Christian colleges that claim to be fundamental. One school (Pensacola Christian College) has been involved in a strange campaign to actively and publicly promote a misguided adherence to one translation of the Bible, which has resulted in false accusations about other Christian institutions and in godly Bible teachers being labeled “new evangelical” or even “neo-orthodox.” Thousands of videotapes have been distributed throughout the country, perpetuating a complex web of misinformation and sophistry, which greatly increases the confusion about the inspiration, preservation, and translation of Scripture.
Another school (Bob Jones University [BJU]) responded in a shameful way when their policy against interracial dating became an issue in the 2000 Presidential primary campaign. When the president of BJU announced on national television (Larry King Live) that the rule had been dropped, he failed to acknowledge the sad truth of the reality of racism at his school. He misrepresented the truth in trying to downplay the seriousness of the inconsistency that the university had maintained for seventy years. Far better if he had set a godly example by admitting their sin and asking forgiveness from the nation, especially those against whom they held such prejudice. The Gospel witness that was given would have been much more meaningful if it had been accompanied by complete honesty and contrition.
Moreover, BJU and a number of other Christian schools are utilizing the works of C.S. Lewis, such as Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia, even though the writings of Lewis promote much false doctrine, including occult fantasy. Evangelicals and even fundamentalists admire Lewis, although he lived a worldly lifestyle and identified himself with Roman Catholicism in his last days.
There also seems to be a universal trend by Christian liberal arts colleges, and even Bible Colleges, to include “Fine Arts” in their academic programs. The following are some puzzling typical examples of “Fine Arts” productions produced and used as promotion by some well-known, “fundamentalist Christian” colleges:
Barber of Seville ¾ Rossini’s opera, 1816, (Il Barbiere di Siviglia, a takeoff on The Marriage of Figaro); includes the depiction of drunkenness, deception, threats, implied adultery, and romantic foolishness unbecoming to God-fearing Christians.
The Elixir of Love ¾ opera by Donizetti, 1832, (L’elisir d’Amore); depicts romantic foolishness unbecoming to God-fearing Christians, drunkenness (the “elixir” is really wine), and deception by a quack “doctor.”
Hansel and Gretel ¾ opera music by Engelbert Humperdinck and libretto by Adelheid Wette (translated by Norman Kelley, 1967); depicts superstition, drunkenness, witchcraft, cannibalism, “magic spells,” deception, and murder.
Tosca ¾ opera by Puccini, 1900; Act I takes place in a Roman Catholic church and depicts veneration for a statue of the Virgin Mary; alludes to a rendezvous for lovemaking; depicts heroine as offering her body to the villain to save her lover; and depicts murders (one by stabbing, with a crucifix laid on the corpse, and one by a firing squad) and suicide.
A Man for All Seasons ¾ an award winning play (also made into an award winning movie) by Robert Bolt, 1960, 1962. This is supposedly an account of the martyrdom of Sir Thomas More. More was a Roman Catholic humanist, statesman, scholar, friend of Erasmus, and author of Utopia (1516). Appointed Lord Chancellor, he wrote nine books (1,000 pages) to discredit the Protestant writings of William Tyndale (“Father of the English Bible”) and his (Tyndale’s) efforts to translate the Word of God into English. More had many people executed because they denied the Pope’s authority. Ironically, he was executed by King Henry VIII (1535) for his stubborn support of Papal supremacy. Pope Pius XI canonized More as a “saint” in 1935. The play contains inaccuracies and curses and demonstrates a lack of careful research into the times in which the events took place.
In addition, a supposedly very conservative, fundamental school recently performed “Charlie’s Aunt,” an English farce that centers on a young man dressed as a woman. Some supposedly “moderate” fundamentalist colleges have also put on productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, and Oklahoma. BJU also includes the “Don Cossacks,” a Russian dance troupe, in their cultural offerings, and heavily publicizes its museum and art galley, which enshrines religious art—paintings that evidence the influences of paganism and blasphemous Romanism.
The above examples of the “Fine Arts” are also found in the publicity materials of Christian colleges. One has to ask, “What ‘redeeming’ qualities might these productions have for the believer?” To know about these things may be helpful in understanding our worldly culture, but I fail to understand why Christian young people are encouraged to put their time, energy, and money into them. Even if the worldliness is “toned down,” knowledgeable people in the community know what these works are supposed to represent. In fact, toning them down may lead some to seek out the original works and participate in them.
Operas demonstrate how one may be deceived into dwelling on sinful behavior because the music can be appealing. Yet I suspect that if CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) artists engaged in such activities with their music, they would be severely criticized by these very same schools.
In these times when it is necessary to express our concern over the intrusion of worldliness into our lives, homes, and churches, our protestations have been challenged with counter accusations of hypocrisy and inconsistency.
The defenders of so-called “Contemporary Christian Music” ask us why we are so critical of CCM’s more conservative performers and artists when we remain silent regarding certain practices of supposedly fundamental Christian colleges. As detailed above, such schools proudly produce elaborate operas and plays in the name of “Fine Arts” that contain worldly, ungodly plots depicting behavior such as flirtation, adultery, use of alcoholic beverages, lying, and even murder. Students and the public are urged to participate in and attend these theatrics, which were once considered off-limits by God-fearing believers at the time of their origination.
While the music itself may be beautiful and the attire fairly modest, the activities depicted are the kind that even CCM artists are unlikely to portray. Though it may be necessary for God’s people to be aware of musical and literary influences in our culture, can God be pleased by their active participation involving a significant investment of time and finances?
Some of these institutions also sponsor cheerleading camps and competition for teenagers. (Some even sponsor Karate evangelism teams!) In this day when professional sports cheerleaders are clearly entertainers who wear scanty costumes and dance provocatively, how can these schools justify encouraging Christian girls to copy this worldly behavior in light of the Scriptural call for modesty?
Moreover, it would be heartening if these schools would direct their promotional staff and recruiters to adhere to Biblical principles. The mail brings us colorful ad campaigns, clever (sometimes outrageous) slogans, and recruitment incentives that are contrary to any basic understanding of the principles of God’s Word. How are our Christian young people going to learn to trust God and rely on prayer, or learn to function Biblically in their local church, when our training institutions act as though they are entitled to operate without regard for the Bible? It is not just new evangelicals that advocate “the end justifies the means.”
Although we can have a measure of reassurance when these schools uphold generally high standards for student conduct, we receive, little comfort when one realizes that even the simple Gospel is many times seriously compromised with psychological reasoning. Add to this the worldly programs described in this article, and it becomes impossible to recommend any Christian schools. Even in a so-called Christian setting, there are just too many temptations and pitfalls to be alert to and to avoid by God’s grace.