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University Classes Today Are Biased With No Freedom of Choice and Students Pay the Price

Professors are forcing personal positions and ideas on their students and not allowing the freedom of rebuttal!

A Miraculous Bible Survives the Fires of Persecution

Madeleine L'Engle in her novel The Young Unicorns as part of a dialogue says, "Because to take away a man's freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person." This is quite a bold position to take, "a puppet and not a person." To me this characterizes that which takes place today in classrooms all over the country. Teachers, professors are forcing personal positions and ideas on their students and not allowing the freedom of rebuttal!

It is a long time ago, but as a student at the School of Theology at Drew University I wrote an exegetical essay on the book of Isaiah for A History of Ancient Israel taught by Dr. Paul Riemann. Paul had an interesting educational background: Wheaton (IL) College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Harvard University, in that order. By the time I met Paul he had moved considerably to the theological left. He didn't like my essay and wrote a full rebuttal on the back page followed by this remark, "You appear to be writing from preconceived ideas, but you are probably thinking better than others in the class." He then gave me an "A." He was a true "liberal" and allowed me to express my divergent opinion.

I am afraid if I were in a university class today and expressed such a divergent opinion I would not receive a passing grade. The kind of diversity of opinion expected in the classroom is unfortunately not allowed! Freedom of expression is under siege by teachers, professors and students are being manipulated in class.

For a while, when I was more active in the classroom, I had the opportunity of speaking several times on the subject of "manipulation." To be more specific manipulation of young people of both high school and college age and to a lesser degree of culture in general. So much of everyday experience involves manipulation and much of it is also tainted with misinformation and lies.

Students are manipulated constantly and educators, Christian educators specifically, should consider this and realize that they are dealing with individuals who will me "moving out" on to college and into professional life and take seriously the need to provide a "sure foundation!" We must heed the scriptural warnings of St. Paul. "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. (2 Peter 3:17 ESV)

Think of this. Students are constantly manipulated by the music industry. Not only are they manipulated by "lyrics" because of their addiction to music, as expressed by Allan Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind, but also through questionable marketing tactics which have through the years drawn them to purchase a large library of recordings most recently using iTunes. So unwittingly being drawn to these purchases they are also drawn to unhealthy and non-Christian worldviews! Add to these more subtle manipulations the bolder ones of the classroom and you have a generation being transformed and moved away from family nurturing and traditional Christian principles.

We don't have enough time or space here to address manipulation in the broader sense, but suffice it to say that since "Muzak" was introduced into the work environment, elevators, and doctor's offices manipulation has gone "mainstream!" Actually the super markets provides a "prima facie" example of how it is most effectively done.

Author Philip K. Dirk says, "The basic tool of manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words." As faculty we need to heed this warning, but also follow the advice of writer William Arthur Ward, "Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate"

Our classroom presentations must be so carefully crafted and sensitive to Christian orthodoxy, so much so, as to equip our students, "...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." (Ephesians 4:14 ESV) This requires building our courses from the bottom up as "biblically based" thought which taken seriously will provide the kind of foundation about which I am speaking!

This means developing new paradigms, new metaphors, probably a completely new look for our disciplines. It will provide a nurturing environment which fosters spiritual growth for both students and teachers alike. This is no easy task. It is one that requires not only faculty commitment to the process, but the commitment of the administration and board to see it through!

There will for sure be resistance. You may count on that. I have seen this over and over, but persistence will result in success. Remember the words of Jesus in St. John's Gospel, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)

The fourth stanza of Christ is Made the Sure Foundation provides a prayer for all of us. "Lord here grant to all your servants what they ask of You to gain, what they gain from You forever, with the blessed to retain, and hereafter in Your glory evermore with You to reign."

This is the final part in the series.

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