There would be agreement in most churches in America today that Jesus calls His people to “go and make disciples.” Jesus has commanded it and his people must heed his word. There would be far less agreement, however, as to how to go about being obedient to that call.
What is the Virtues Campus strategy for discipling the nation?
Comparing the skylines of a 19th Century American city and a 21st Century city reveals a profound social reality. In the first, one sees a church spire rising skyward in the center of the city. The city then spreads outward from that center. In the second, one sees towering sky-scrapers souring above the city dwarfing everything else. In this skyline, the church spire is nowhere to be seen.
The Church in America has allowed itself to become marginalized in society. Secularism has pushed the church to the perimeter. It has been relegated to the sidelines. This is true of small single celled churches, sprawling and bustling mega-churches, as well as entire denominations. The Church in America is tolerated as long as its people keep their religion in their own homes and confined inside their church walls. Raise your voice in the public square, however, and there is immediate push-back.
What has happened?
The Protestant movement began in the university. Wycliffe before him and Martin Luther were university professors. In Western universities theology was the queen of the sciences, named by Aquinas as such because our understanding of God enables us to understand everything else.
In time, the Church in early America established great universities like Harvard and Yale and Princeton in order to disciple younger generations in God’s Truth. Again, God’s Word was the light that enabled men to see everything else – law, economics, medicine, education, politics …
But eventually Protestant thinkers, apologists, and philosophers, first in European universities and then in American universities, submitted to a humanist hubris that human reason can know truth by itself. That set in motion a domino effect – faith and reason became separated, anti-intellectualism emerged in the Church, the Church rejected the university, seminaries and Bible schools were established as the Church retreated from the university, the lamp of God’s Word was removed from the university and placed in seminaries. The Bible which gave light to western civilization, was put into an academic silo outside the university. As a result the universities were left without the lamp of God’s Word. Knowledge became fragmented. University departments became isolated departments unto themselves. The darkness of evening gradually settled over the soul of western civilization.
The Church is now seen as the party of faith, the university as the party of science and reason. A tall, thick wall reinforced with rebar has been erected between the two. Never are the two to be joined. But it is a false divide. Faith is not against reason and science. And reason and science are not against faith.
The Virtues Campus breaches this wall of separation by bringing the university and the church back together. We hold to the conviction that all Truth is God’s Truth. All knowledge is Christ-centered knowledge because “All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17) The lamp of God’s Word is once again placed at the center of one’s learning. We believe that in order to know truth, one needs to study the book of God’s words (Scripture) and the book of God’s works (nature) through the God-given faculty of reason.
Today, all across this country, church buildings of every denomination stand underutilized during the week. The Virtues strategy is for the Church to accept its God-given obligation to disciple the nation by doubling as college classrooms Monday – Friday, bringing the overhead way down, gathering 15-25 students together under the mentorship of an academic pastor who teaches career readiness skills, critical-thinking skills, and the Scriptures. At the same time students are taking the best of online courses from an accredited university and earning a college degree for under $10,000 a year. In short, the strategy is to reestablish the local church as an educational center of the community.
Imagine thousands of churches all across America rising to the Call!
We at Virtues are looking to come alongside churches with whom to partner in answering Christ’s call. We will help and equip the local church to double as college classrooms. We do not come to add one more church program to a program plate that is already full. We come along side with a practical strategy to help extend your church’s discipleship ministry beyond the high school years.
Let us know how we can come alongside your church…
Recommended reading: Truth & Transformation by Vishal Mangalwadi.
For an expanded treatment of church-based colleges, see Appendix 3 where the author fleshes out for the first time in writing this new concept.