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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Education and Religion

Is it possible that the more education one acquires, the more religious he becomes?

That seems to the conclusion of a study conducted by University of Nebraska professor Philip Schwadel. As reported by Cathy Lynn Grossman in USAToday (August 4, 2001), "a new study says education doesn't drive people away from God..."

Well, that sounds encouraging, no? But I continue: " gives them a more liberal attitude about who's going to heaven."


It seems that the longer people are in school, the more friends they make from religious perspectives different from their own. And, not being willing to admit that their friends' views could be wrong, they simply stretch out the tent pegs.

The longer people stay in school, the less likely they will be to attend religious services, the more they will profess to believe in a "higher power" rather than a "personal God," the more likely they'll be to unite with a liberal Protestant church, and the more likely it is that they will repudiate the authority of the Bible as the Word of God.

So they're ever learning, it seems, but increasingly unable to arrive at the knowledge of the truth.

A report like this might discourage Christians from taking seriously the challenge of ever learning. That would be a mistake. The problem is not that people are learning so much that their great learning has turned them away from the truth of the Gospel. The problem is they've never learned the Gospel sufficiently well so that it is able to sustain them through the various onslaughts of friends and classrooms.

If people are drifting away from Christianity as they leave home and head off to college - and they are - it's only partly the fault of the higher education community. If we in the Church took more seriously the work of making disciples, training young people to think seriously about and live courageously for their faith - rather than just wanting them to have fun and friends at church - we might actually begin sending some young people to university who could turn their campuses upside-down for the Kingdom of God.

We can't do much to fix the universities, at least, not directly, not at this time. But we can fix the way we educate church members. The present approach to Christian education in America's churches is broken and dysfunctional. We are not making disciples, we're holding courses and running programs. And we must be fine with this, because we don't seem to be in any hurry to change what we're doing.

The drift of this country away from true Christianity into a more personalized, generalized, and false view of religion is accelerating. And churches are contributing to it by our failure to make disciples through the educational ministries of our churches.

When is enough enough?

Related texts: Matthew 28.18-20; Ephesians 4.17-24; 2 Corinthians 10.3-5

A conversation starter: "Do you think it's inevitable that the longer people stay in school, the more likely they will be to reject the Christian worldview?"

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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