Fall is quickly approaching, and by now, if you have a child or grandchild who is going to attend Christian college this year, he or she is most likely enrolled and ready to go. As Lighthouse Trails has reported over the last several years, the majority of evangelical/Protestant colleges, seminaries, and universities are now, to varying degrees, integrating contemplative spirituality and emerging ideologies into the lives of their students. With this in mind, we believe you should consider doing the following nine things so that you and your child can know what to expect in that school and how to deal with it:
1. First, see if that school is on our contemplative colleges list. Sadly, this list is continually growing.
2. Ask the school for a current textbook list (you may e-mail it to Lighthouse Trails so we can analyze the list for you). Usually textbook lists will also give the authors’ names as well as titles of books.
3. Search your particular college’s website to see if it has spiritual formation programs. You can type words into college website search engines such as: Nouwen, “spiritual formation,” “lectio divina,” Shane Claiborne, “christian formation,” etc.
4. Find out who will be speaking at student chapels.
5. Ask for a syllabus for each class your student is enrolled in.
6. After getting the textbook list, the chapel speaker list, the search engine results, and the class syllabi, refer to our Directory of Authors to see if any names from the school are in that directory.
7. Make sure your child is educated on what contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, and emerging church really mean. They should read at least one of the following LT books: A Time of Departing, Faith Undone, Castles in the Sand. You as a parent or grandparent should read An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited as well. If you do not have one of those books on hand or if you or your child or grandchild cannot afford to buy one of them, please let us know, and we will send a copy to your child complimentary.
8. Contact the school chaplain and ask some good questions. It is often the school chaplain or campus pastor who decides who is going to be invited to speak at chapels and also is often in charge of Spiritual Formation activities outside of class.
9. Find out which church your child will be attending while in school. Many, many times, the majority of students of a particular college go to the same church, and many, many times, that church is pro-contemplative, pro-emerging.
If your child or grandchild is not yet enrolled in a college, then this list will put you in a better position to help him or her make a decision on where to attend. If your child or grandchild is already enrolled for this fall, then this list will help you help your child be better equipped and prepared for the road ahead.
Here is our growing list of Christian schools that ARE promoting contemplative and/or emerging: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm. And here is a small list we have put together of schools that are thus far NOT going in that direction: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.
Note: For many years, we had Faith Baptist Bible College in Iowa on our “good” list. But after several communications with the school over concerning textbooks and also books by Brennan Manning and Jesus Calling in their bookstore, we removed the school from that list. They were a good choice for a 4-year degree school; and while they do carry Faith Undone and A Time of Departing on their bookstore website (but not in their classes), their current textbook list continues having a number pro-contemplative, pro-emerging authors (e.g., Boyd, Burns, Fields, Devries). We saw this same thing happen to Corban University (formally Western Baptist) in Oregon; and even though Lighthouse Trails communicated with the school on the direction they started going (and in fact, for a number of years, one class used A Time of Departing), they proceeded down that road, and today, they are on our contemplative college list.
Some of our past articles on Christian colleges:
More articles in our Contemplative Colleges category.