One might not know it to look at them now but it was orthodox Christians who built some of the greatest educational institutions in the world. The universities in Paris and Oxford were founded by Christians who believed the historic Christian faith. Later, The Universities of Leiden, Cambridge, then Harvard, and Yale in the American colonies were founded by believing Christians. In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, something of a religious and educational revolution swept across the west when the various Enlightenment movements across Europe and the British Isles routed Christian orthodoxy. Since that time orthodox, confessional Christian scholars have been increasingly marginalized from the mainstream academy. Where they were once found in abundance in the great universities of Europe, Britain, and America. today faithful confessional evangelical scholars are more likely to be found in smaller, newer institutions. As the great universities succumbed to the competing theology and philosophy offered by the Enlightenment, a series of alternative colleges and universities sprang up in the 19th and 20th centuries. For perhaps a century we saw those schools flourish and even expand as the contrast between Christian orthodoxy and various anti-Christian ideologies became clearer. At the moment, evangelical academia is facing some new challenges. Recently, after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a small number of evangelical colleges announced their withdrawal from the Christian College Coalition. Another college is facing some potential challenges to its accreditation after its president spoke up asking for the liberty to adhere to the historic Christian position on marriage. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College in Sanford, FL just north of Orlando, and he is charged with supervising the education of Christian young people in our late modern age. He joined us on campus recently to discuss these challenges and how to address them biblically.
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