Christian Colleges Offer a Remedy for Polarization

Christian Colleges Offer a Remedy for Polarization

Spring 2024

Shirley V. Hoogstra & Joshua Kapusinski

This column was written by Capital Fellow Joshua Kapusinski, a graduate of Grove City College, at the request of President Shirley Hoogstra as part of his fellowship opportunity at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Our nation faces a time of hyperpolarization. Whatever side of the political aisle you fall on, it seems that one common ground we all share is the lack of common ground at all. Even worse, any solution always seems out of reach. In 1976, Gerald Ford suggested the opposite during his commencement address at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon. During the address, he spoke about what he learned during his time in office, “As president, I’m constantly aware that the ultimate authority of our Republic is not in the White House; it is in the people.”

What a transformational understanding of civic life this is for those who embrace it. Each of us can make a difference along the path that God has laid before our feet, even if the fruits of our labor might be invisible for some time. Rather than feel discouraged by the turmoil around us, we can boldly show the world another way to engage these conversations by “speaking the truth in love” as Paul says in Ephesians 4:15.

Civil discourse during an election year is our theme for the spring issue of ADVANCE, and given the year ahead, no topic could be more timely. No institution in our nation is free from polarization, which is why we lead with excellence and embrace challenging conversations with integrity. In Romans 12, Paul encourages us to “Live in harmony with one another” and “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” No matter who sits in the White House, Jesus Christ still sits on the throne. Following his example, we strive to navigate politics while loving our neighbor — and, in fact, motivated by that love. We hold fast to our faith. In his 1976 commencement address, Ford said something similar, “Our national life has reached a point where we must recover transcendent qualities of spirituality and morality.” This rings just as true today as it did nearly 50 years ago. Rather than settle for an amorphous sense of spirituality, we proclaim the trinitarian God who makes himself known to us by his Word. Rather than settle for a relative morality, we proclaim the law of love best embodied by Christ.

“Our call to civil discourse is not a way of casting aside our convictions, but rather bringing to the world a faith that embodies God’s love, wisdom, and truth.”— Joshua Kapusinski

Christian higher education holds the key to recovering these vital spiritual and moral qualities. Your commitment to educating the whole person means a college education does far more than improve the economic mobility of a student. It also fosters the development of their souls. No matter where your graduates go after they pass through your doors, they carry the flame to light a better world. Our call to civil discourse is not a way of casting aside our convictions, but rather bringing to the world a faith that embodies God’s love, wisdom, and truth.

You are sowing the seeds of a new generation. They live on your campuses now, but soon they will reveal themselves in the public square. What a great opportunity for us to be salt and light in a world that is hungering for peacemakers. The CCCU is excited to continue working alongside you, shaping more peacemakers for the good of our world and the glory of our God.