Hide and Seek

One day in a college class, students were discussing the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas and his teachings about God. One student became noticeably agitated. Finally, he stood up and nervously asked permission to leave. Later he explained his strange behavior to the professor. "I'm not interested in finding truth," he confessed. "All I care about is what has immediate practical value for me." Searching for truth, on the other hand, just might turn his whole world upside down. The story reminds us that truth can be scary stuff, and truth about God is the scariest of all. Like the student who left class, some people would actually prefer not to find it. In his new book, "How to Stay Christian in College," J. Budziszewski of the University of Texas says even on the college campus--a place historically devoted to the search for truth--there's actually a good bit of hiding from the truth. Once Christian students understand this, they can respond better when their faith is under attack. Consider Pilate's question to Jesus: "What is truth?" Did Pilate really want an answer? Not on your life! He didn't even wait for an answer. The question was just a smokescreen, a cynical slogan to cut Jesus off. In the university setting today, Christian students often encounter similar smokescreens. Budziszewski tells the story of a conversation between a Christian professor and a student named Tom, who was arguing that morality is relative. "How do we even know murder is wrong?" Tom asked defiantly. The professor knew the question was a smokescreen, because the Bible teaches that the moral law is written on the human heart. That means everyone really knows murder is wrong, whether he admits it or not. So the professor asked Tom, "Are you in real doubt about whether murder is wrong?" Tom was evasive: "Many people might say it was all right." "But I'm not asking other people," the professor pressed him. "Are you at this moment in any real doubt about murder being wrong?" There was a long silence. "No," Tom finally admitted. "No, I'm not." "Good," the professor said. "Then we don't have to waste time asking whether morality is relative. Let's talk about something you really are in doubt about." Tom realized that his smokescreen had been blown away, and he agreed to discuss his real questions about morality and religion. It was a turning point in the conversation--and perhaps in Tom's life as well. Many of the ideologies that Christian students encounter in the modern university are smokescreens, set up not to find truth but to hide from truths that threaten people's comfort zones--and Christians must learn to tell the difference. A great resource is professor Budziszewski's new book, "How to Stay Christian in College." If you contact BreakPoint at 1 800 995-8777, we'll tell you how to get a hold of a wonderful College Survival Kit, including Budziszewski's marvelous new book, for your own children or grandchildren who are headed for college this fall. If Christian kids are going to survive college with their faith intact, they need to learn how to give honest answers to honest questions--but they also need to know how to blow away smokescreens that only hide the truth.


Chuck Colson


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