Chris Gehrz has struck again. Earlier today we called your attention to his post on the declining number of humanities students at Christian colleges.
This afternoon Chris is back with some suggestions about why the humanities are in decline at Christian colleges. His answer can be boiled down to one word: “fear.”
Chris makes two important suggestions::
“If it’s true that Christian college students are deciding against humanities majors because they come to our campuses averse to risk and prioritizing economic security, then the evangelical church is doing a terrible job of forming its young people.”
“Could it be that Christian college students are deciding against humanities majors because they come from churches that leave them suspicious of such studies?”
On the first point, Chris writes:
So I get it: If you’re an 18-year old looking to mitigate risk as you edge into an uncertain economy, you’re going to think twice about majoring in a field whose professors can’t honestly guarantee an easy college-to-career path. One of my first-year students said as much to me last week. He loves history (and even has parents telling him to major in something he loves), doesn’t love the sciences, but is leaning towards doing a pre-professional track in health care because “I just don’t know for sure what I would do with a History major.” (And this after reading several interviews we’ve done with very successful alumni whose careers aren’t past-related at all.)
I don’t want to suggest that recklessness is a Christian virtue. But faith and hope certainly are. And fear certainly isn’t. If our churches are raising up a generation to crave a security defined in terms of material affluence, physical comfort, and economic stability, then the problems with evangelicalism run even deeper than I thought.
On the second point, Chris writes:
Let’s say John Fea is right (I’m pretty sure he is) that the humanities are some of the key “disciplines that teach evangelical young people how to live together with their deepest differences, reflect on the purpose of life, think critically about the world, cultivate moral courage, make evidence-based arguments, and recognize that life does not always fit easily into binary categories.”Do evangelical churches actually want their young people to learn these things?
John claims (again, correctly) that the humanities “raise the kinds of questions that go to the heart of a Christian education.” Do evangelical churches want their youth asking these kinds of questions? Do they want the next generation to “see the world from the perspective of others,” to learn “humility as we ponder our place in the expanse of human history… to understand the common good and to serve it”? Do they want “informed citizens”?