Universities Unraveling

Higher Education Needs a Higher Purpose

The current turmoil on our nation’s campuses is just a symptom of a deeper problem: Our universities have lost a vision for education.

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John Stonestreet

Among the things that 2015 may be remembered for is as the year American universities turned into war zones: From anti-racism demonstrations where students harassed and physically removed student reporters, to profanity-laced protests over a memo about Halloween costumes, to demands for “trigger warnings” and blacklisting of even feminist speakers.

On campuses everywhere, students are turning on each other, their teachers, and administrators. Even some liberal commentators are asking: What kind of monsters is American higher education creating?

Well, maybe the kind of monsters it deserves, suggested Ross Douthat recently in the New York Times. He notes that while we may not admire their temper tantrums or thin skin, today’s undergrads came by these traits honestly. As my co-host Eric Metaxas observed recently on BreakPoint,  students are taking the radical ideas of their professors seriously.

But Douthat points out that the steady diet of politically-correct ideology in universities conceals the real rot in modern higher education: a lack of higher purpose.

It wasn’t always like this. Early modern universities set the pattern for what some have called “Christian humanism”—emphasizing not just technical proficiency, but an integrated view of life that enabled students to become virtuous and effective leaders. From this model emerged the luminaries of the Reformation and the scientific revolution.

The charters of our nation’s oldest public institutions, too, testify to the higher purpose their founders envisioned. Harvard’s original motto was “Truth for Christ and the Church.” And Yale—a school now infamous for its annual “Sex Week”—once urged students to “…consider the main end of [their] study…to know God in Jesus Christ,” and “to lead a Godly, sober life.”

daily_commentary_12_09_15Even early non-Christian universities considered it their duty to inculcate moral virtues and train the body politic. Thomas Jefferson, for example, who founded the University of Virginia as a secular school, believed that “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

All of this is now, of course, well, history. By the 1950s, most schools had abandoned such lofty goals in favor of what Douthat dubs “technocratic, careerist and basically amoral” ones. Universities became glorified trade schools where the bottom line for both students and faculties was—well—the bottom line. People went to college not to become well-rounded citizens and leaders, but in order to pad their future paychecks.

Into this academic snooze-fest exploded 60s counterculture, demanding what Douthat calls a “remoralization, a renewal of the university as a place of almost-religious purpose…” Only instead of Christian virtue and citizenship, colleges replaced antiwar ideology, feminism, environmentalism, and the sexual revolution.

Fifty years later, these quasi-religious values have burst their “ideological fiefdom” in the liberal arts and are holding hunger strikes on the front lawn. It’s a headache Douthat says universities have had coming.

And I think he’s right. So, what now? Well, like it or not, change won’t happen overnight.  Parents, we have a choice of where to send our kids, and as an alumnus of a Christian college, I can promise you the Ivy League doesn’t have a monopoly on top-notch education. But be careful, Christian colleges often lack a vision of education as well, while decorating their aimlessness with Bible classes and chapel.

But the most important thing we must do is prepare our students with a love for the true, the good, and the beautiful – a vision that makes political correctness pale in comparison. Such a vision prepares them to love God with all their hearts and minds. And for Christians, that’s the highest purpose of education.

Further Reading and Information

Universities Unraveling: Higher Education Needs a Higher Purpose
Consider a school's "higher purpose" when making decisions about enrolling in a college or enrolling your children in a college. The links below can provide information on what to prepare for when selecting further education.


Free Think University

Now at Vanderbilt: Conservative Professor Targeted by Offended Students
Trey Sanchez | truthrevolt.org | November 11, 2015

Campus Kangaroo Court Convicts Conservative Professor
David French | National Review | November 11, 2015

Yale’s Idiot Children
Kevin D. Williamson | National Review | November 10, 2015


I went to local colleges and that wasn't at all my experience; in fact I was surprised how mellow it was after hearing so many nightmare stories that it is surprising I did not take a sprig of garlic, some holy water, and a stake for the professor's heart on my first day.

Just a reminder that there is still sanity or at least places where the insanity can be seen only by those who look for it.
The Frankfurt School
One of the leaders of the Marxist think tank, the Frankfurt School, in the early 20s/30s was Herbert Marcuse. In order to inculcate his political philosophy into the culture, Herbie developed a method of redefining terms now known as politically correct speak mixing it with forms of sexual depravity. When Adolph Hitler came to power he closed the think tank down where upon they fled to the USA and re-established within the walls of the Ivy League and Columbia along with taking power positions within the federal government spreading Marxism under the thin veil of political correctness. The advent of the draft during the Vietnam war helped spread the philosophy even faster with the help of libertine values. In fact it was Marcuse who coined the term "Make love, not war". This thinly covered Marxism has and is turning America into an ideological state, supported by the power of the state where dissent, redefined as hate crime is punished even unto imprisonment.
Read Bill Lind for more detail:
University Mission
I am proud to say that Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego has not lost of it original calling and mission to provide a quality Christian based liberal arts education.

Michael W. Cater, MD
Sorry about that, Kevin. We thought it was in there. I've now hyperlinked it on the words "suggested Ross Douthat recently."
Can you post the link to Ross Douthat's article?