In his book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, N.T. Wright says that the task of a Christian “is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” In other words, we live lives transformed by the universe-changing event of Easter — and the new creation that Jesus’ death and resurrection instigated and will be completed upon his return.
Like many things, this is so much easier said than it is done. As the decades and centuries go by, the constant barrage of war, famine, disease, changing cultures, new technologies and scientific discoveries, and internal and external corrupting forces have caused constant challenges for Christ’s church as they seek to live lives worthy of him. Yet it is precisely because of God’s grace and the hope Easter provides us that we can see how God has faithfully worked through his people to end war and begin rebuilding; to care for the hungry and the sick; to find ways to right long-held divisions and old injustices; to embrace and even pioneer new technological and scientific discoveries.
Personally, this is one of the greatest benefits of my own experiences as a student of Christian higher education. Certainly those who are curious and have eyes to see can explore how God is working in and through his people and how all things in creation stem from him, regardless of where they went to college or university. But there is something uniquely potent in a Christian college environment — an atmosphere dedicated to educating both mind and heart, with Christ always at the center. Particularly for those who are navigating the transition from adolescence to adulthood and wrestling with just who they are and what they believe, a Christian campus community dedicated to Christ-centered, faith-integrated learning can offer insights and hope that other academic contexts just can’t quite reach.
Here again, however, we are, we are faced with the reality that this, too, is easier said than done. We all know the winds buffeting higher education generally and Christian higher education broadly. That’s one of the reasons we’re taking the next couple of issues to get back to the core of the Christian higher education enterprise — when you’re facing a storm, it’s important to recognize and hold on to your anchor. For CCCU institutions, our shared anchor is the commitment to infusing the higher education learning experience with the theology, doctrines, and practices of the orthodox Christian faith — in simpler terms, the integration of faith and learning.
But what does that look like in our current context, where the pandemic rapidly accelerated trends of moving toward hybrid or online learning and away from traditional in-person learning; where an increasing number of students have little to no understanding of the Bible or basic Christian doctrine; where new faculty have not had the training to explore how Christian doctrine interacts and enhances their discipline? How do we even know when we’re being successful in this enterprise?
Those are some of the questions we’re going to explore in this issue and the next. We pray that it will provide a reference and a reminder that “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
Morgan Feddes Satre is the managing editor of Advance. She holds degrees from two CCCU institutions — a master’s from Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California) and a bachelor’s from Whitworth University (Spokane, Washington).