Life is full of transitions; the transition from high school to college is one of the biggest many young people will ever face. For today’s young Christian men and women, this is especially true. Now, more than ever, a young person’s first foray into the college environment can seem like an exercise is swimming upstream—fighting a current of modern culture with so many new ideas and beliefs that can prove extremely challenging to his or her faith.
According to Jonathan Morrow of Impact 360 Institute, there are three major challenges the Christian college student faces in this current: relativism, tolerance, and doubt. Each of these areas is a very real threat to a strong, sure faith. Let us be clear; these are not things Christian students may face. It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when.
The Riptide of Relativism
The ocean looks appealing; but, often, danger lurks just beneath the surface. A dangerous undercurrent can turn into a riptide, surprising its victims as it sucks them under. Just so, we have undercurrents in our culture that threaten to pull young people’s faith under to be drowned by a riptide of relativism.
Relativism is the idea that moral and spiritual truth is relative to or depends upon an individual or culture’s beliefs.
Most of the time relativism shows up not in arguments but in slogans:
- “That’s true for you but not for me.”
- “Who am I to judge someone else?”
- “People are free to believe whatever they want as long as they aren’t hurting someone else.”
This Riptide of Relativism is pervasive; it is found both inside and outside the church walls. As a matter of fact, according to Christian Smith in his book Lost in Transition, 47% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 23 agreed that morals are relative and there are no definite rights and wrongs.
Failing to accept the “all things are relative” belief often causes Christians to be considered unloving or elitist. Such is the environment into which we trust our young people.
So, as a parent, what’s the answer? The answer is to equip our students to defend the truth. They need to be prepared by knowing what they believe, why they believe it, and how their beliefs may be attacked.
The Tyranny of Tolerance
In today’s college environments, the idea of tolerance reigns supreme. Tolerance teaches that all ideas and worldviews are equally valid and must be accepted. The Tyranny of Tolerance denies the right to question any ideology. To believe any one school of thought to be ultimate truth is not acceptable; thus the Christian belief structure is an enemy of tolerance. The concepts of right and wrong and objective truth must cease to exist for our Christian students or they are branded as unloving, prejudiced and small-minded.
What is the solution for our Christian young people? Students need to know that all ideas are not created equal; just because someone believes something doesn’t make it true. They also need to be given the courage to stand strong for truth; this courage comes through experience and training.
Doubt is a natural part of the growing process as we seek to understand truth.
Many students aren’t comfortable sharing their doubts in their churches, so those doubts become compounded when new ideas and beliefs are encountered. Christian students may find themselves asking:
- Do I really believe this [Christian Faith] anymore? Have I outgrown it? My parents believe, but my professors don’t. What do I do with my doubts?
- How do I know that Christianity is true, besides saying “the Bible says so”? Am I using circular reasoning? Why do I believe what I believe?
- Why does God feel so distant from me right now? Am I not spiritual enough?
- Has Science put God out of a job?
What’s the answer? Forewarned is forearmed. If Christian students know to expect uninvited doubts, they are more prepared to stand strong in their faith.
Once again, as a Christian parent, you have the opportunity to support, encourage, and guide your students even before they face these uninvited doubts.
These three challenges will undermine and erode the faith of a Christian student who is unprepared. As parents, you have the amazing opportunity to train and coach your students to stand firm in what they know to be true when they encounter the challenges that are coming.
Let Us Help You Build A Plan
The preceding article is a small sampling of the insights developed by Dr. Jonathan Morrow, Director of Creative Strategies at the Impact 360 Institute and author of the book, Welcome to College. Dr. Morrow is a thought leader in apologetics, worldview, and culture (especially as each relates to student engagement); he speaks nationally and has written extensively in these areas. In addition to being a regular faculty member for our high school, college, and graduate students, Dr. Morrow also has a heart to equip and minister to parents.
At the Impact 360 Institute, we want partner with you in this important season; it is never to early to begin the conversations about your teen’s transition to college. Our College Launch Conference exists to equip you, parents, with a Christ-centered approach to help your student through this crucial time. Over three days of interaction, introspection, instruction, and investigation, you will have the opportunity to learn from a team made up of thought leaders in biblical worldview, higher education, and engaging culture. We know the real world of today’s college students and we will help you build a plan and gain the confidence you need to help your students discover their God-given callings and live out their Christian faith on campus.
To learn more about our College Launch Conference, visit.