Surviving a Hostile Professor
by Gene Edward Veith, Ph.D.
As a Christian college student, do you ever feel like you’ve been thrown to the lions? Professors who are oh-so sensitive and multi-cultural to every other campus minority feel perfectly free to rip on you. Lectures often attack your Christian beliefs, and class discussions seem like an invitation for everyone else to gang-tackle you. To make matters worse, the test requires you to memorize and repeat things you don’t even believe. If you don’t, you’ll get a poor grade and be condemned to repeat the class.
Sounds like a no-win situation. With an intellectual establishment generally hostile to the Christian faith, Christian students face lots of challenges in university classrooms. Yet, the conflicts you face on campus can be a good thing. The intellectual, moral and spiritual issues that divide Christians and non-Christians will become very clear; prayer, scripture, and your church will emerge — more than ever before — as real sources of power; and you will be fighting the good fight on the front lines.
The end result is worth it, so how can you deal with the daily slings and arrows of an outrageous professor? How can you be an effective witness for Christ — both to the professor and the rest of the class — in a hostile atmosphere? It is one thing to be martyred for your faith (thankfully, things don’t typically go that far in college classrooms). But you also need to pass the course!
My suggestions, rooted in the study of how a Biblical worldview can interact with secular thought, stem from my experience running the academic gamut. From a student in secular universities — freshman through Ph.D. — to a professor at both secular and Christian colleges, I know how students act and professors think.
Realize Your Advantage
“I have more understanding than my teachers,” wrote the psalmist, “for I meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:99). This doesn’t mean that by studying the Bible you know more than your professors about calculus or the Taft Hartley Act, but it does spell out one clear advantage you have in the academic world — especially today.
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Having rejected God over the last two centuries, our intellectual establishment has run up against the dead end Christians predicted they would encounter. Without God, there is no basis for truth, morality, logic or beauty. Sadly, instead of turning to God, many academicians conclude that “truth is relative, everyone creates his own reality and there are no absolutes.” Academics don’t have a foundation for truth. Christians do.
The biblical worldview is so much bigger, deeper and more complex than the secularists’. Human-made theories tend to latch on to a small detail of reality — whether one that debases human beings or one that exalts them past all measure — then stretch it to account for all of life. Christians have the big picture — human beings are both depraved sinners and bearers of God’s image. You have nothing to fear. If, and only if, you have meditated long and hard on God’s Word, you know more than your teachers do…
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