SAN FRANCISCO – A renowned pioneer in the field of world missions urged Christian students to start their school year with the goal of fulfilling the university's ultimate purpose, which is to unite knowledge.
"The very word 'university' implies the uniting of things that were apart," Dr. Ralph D. Winter, co-founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission, said Monday to incoming students at Olivet University in San Francisco.
"The university is designed to unify otherwise difference spheres of knowledge."
Winter, who has been noted by Time Magazine as one of America's top 25 evangelicals, warned that since most universities fail to do this, students often fail to grasp the university's potential for uniting knowledge.
Since individualization is prevalent in the university environment, pupils cannot gain "essential group work experiences of teamwork" needed for working in the real world, he explained
The famed missiologists' comments come as Christian-based universities are increasingly becoming the school of choice for prospective college-level students in the United States.
Last month, 42 Baptist schools made U.S. News & World Report magazine's list of "Best Colleges." Erskine College, a Christian liberal arts school, made No. 2 on the Baccalaureate–South list.
Though Christian schools in the past only offered basic theological training, the majority of today's Christian universities have more choices in education.
Amid recent developments and as fields of study become increasingly diverse in universities, Winter warned students not to become too fixated on their choice of study.
"What will make the whole university experience very exciting … is if you can discover the solution to this … problem on one part of a much larger and amazing picture," he said.
Impact of Universities in the World
Winter also pointed out that students must realize that universities have an important role in the world.
"Universities have become the forefront of discovering the laws of nature. From the time of Christ to the present, we have seen a steady increase in human wisdom about nature and also the nature of evil," said Winter, who also founded William Carey International University in Pasadena, Calif.
"Wars have decreased and population has increased; only recently in history have we learned about germs to fight them intelligently."
Nonetheless, Winter said that he was dismayed that evangelicals only focus "on getting people … prepared for heaven, but not … for the Kingdom of God to come and His will to be done on earth."
The former missionary cited the malaria outbreaks in Africa as an example of complacency among educated Christians today.
"Why aren't the followers of Christ at the forefront of defeating this evil satanic bug?" Winter asked, noting that the disease has so far taken 45 million Africans from the world's work force.
The reason Christians are unable to battle this disease, he emphasized, is because of the lack of unity in university education.
"Our universities fail to unite different fields of studies, allowing people to become specialists in pieces rather than unifiers of the big picture," stated Winters.
Lastly, the respected missions expert hoped that university students would use their knowledge to engage in God's work on earth.
"Now, I am speaking to each one of you," Winter challenged the students. "Are you going to university to become rich, to pursue a personal interest instead of God's highest will for you?
"These are not options from which you may choose. If you seek to follow Christ, you have only one option and that is to seek to do your utmost for His highest."
In addition to the U.S. Center for World Mission and William Carey International University, Winter founded the William Carey Library, a specialized publisher and distributor of mission materials; co-founded the American Society of Missiology; assisted in the founding of ACMC (Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment); and helped initiate the International Society for Frontier Missions.
He has also served as the general director of the Frontier Mission Fellowship – a mission society member of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies – and as the vice president of the Southwest Region of the Evangelical Missiological Society. He is currently the honorary chairman of The Christian Post International and Olivet University, whose chancellor is evangelical leader Dr. David J. Jang.
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