“You take students where?” When I tell Christians I willingly take student groups to Berkeley, reactions are mixed. Some are excited about such an opportunity while others are a bit unsure of the trip. For many, Berkeley conjures up images of tie-dyed hippies gathering in communes or wild-eyed university professors screaming at the top of their lungs. And who wants to expose their kids to that?
Well, the Berkeley Missionis right in step with Stand to Reason's approach to false ideas: don't isolate yourself, inoculate yourself. Here’s our goal on a trip like this: expose Christian young people to secular thought in order to help them cultivate a Christian worldview. Rather than isolate students in a "Christian ghetto," we want to inoculate them from false views. We want them to hear the false ideas of atheism, secularism, moral relativism, etc. from us first, before they encounter them in the world unprepared, and then be taken captive by these false philosophies (Col. 2:8). What better place than Berkeley to give them a taste of the people who are waiting for themonce they leave the safety of a Christian home, church or youth group, and step onto a college campus.
Inoculation can be risky. Berkeley is intense. Our presenters are typically atheists with years of reflection on these matters. They’ve been able to think through the arguments and objections over a longer period of time than our young students. And now we’re giving them an opportunity to rattle our students.
However, even though inoculation can be a bit risky, two things are on our side. First, some of the smartest people make the most basic mistakes in thinking when it comes to spiritual matters. This occurs again and again in our interactions with atheists, and eventually, the students began to see this for themselves. Secondly, if Christianity is actually true, then every argument against it will be flawed by its very nature. It was just a matter of helping our students uncover the flaws.
Even though it’s risky, I think inoculating our kids is essential. I continually hear stories of young people who go to college where their Christianity gets hammered and they walk away. So it may actually be riskier when we do not inoculate our young people. I think there are other ways to begin the process of inoculationbut ultimately, we want our kids to be able to handle something like the Berkeley Mission. Indeed, as we’ve been doing these trips for the last six years, we’ve seen more confident and courageous young ambassadors for Christ emerge, ready to let the Truth transform them and the world around them.
We currently have 3 trips available for students. The Berkeley Mission and the Boulder Mission are our "apologetic mission trips." The Utah Mission is our "theological mission trip." You can find more info at our youth website, STR Place.