This fall will mark the 40th anniversary of my arrival at the University of Texas (UT), Austin, as a freshman on campus. Since I had skipped third grade, I was entering college as a young 17-year-old in a spiritually precipitous position. My youth minister told me that if a young man was zealous for the Lord for a season but later fell away and died, that God would weigh the good against the bad and let him into heaven. I felt my two years of taking notes while listening to sermons at Irving Bible Church should be sufficient. I was ready for something new.
My attendance at UT was practically ordained because dad was a UT grad in 1959. He was impressed by the remaining Christian tenor of the campus (R.L. Dabney was the chair of "Mental and Moral Philosophy" department in 1884, and John 8:32 is inscribed at the very base of its iconic tower, below), the integrity of the professors, and the depth of thought given to the various subjects. He often spoke favorably of his Cost Accounting course. He had no idea how much things had changed since his graduation.
John 8:32 inscribed on the University of Texas tower.
My co-ed, on-campus dorm had over 10,000 residents and two zip codes. It was larger than some students' hometown! My first roommate, Ray, was a young Baptist zealot who, after the first several weeks, requested a different room(mate) because he couldn't put up with all my partying and drinking. Good for him. He tried to invite me to the Baptist student union meetings, but I never went. Like the proverbial prodigal son, I wasted my substance with riotous living, and it wasn't until I was a year into my first job that Vince came to himself (Lk 15:17a), or rather, God Almighty came to my soul.
I recount all this because it is heavy upon my heart for our college students, to warn them of the dangers that exist on university campuses. "But Brother Vince, I am going to a Christian campus." Good! But I have spoken with plenty who attended Christian campuses to know that the same swine-like elements which abounded at UT, are also found at Christian schools, if in less measure. The safeguard is not the sign over the institution, but the Savior over the inner man.
So in this edition, young Christian, I'll give you a few extra layers in your spiritual shield to quench the fiery darts of the wicked.
Vince's advice for survival on campus –
(1) Carefully choose your friends the first 30 days. All the evils I fell into were introduced to me by a friend of a friend.
(2) Don't neglect your Bible reading time. My Bible sat in the bottom of a box in the closet, unpacked from my move out of my parents' house. (Six years later I dug it out when God saved me!)
(3) It really is OK to say "No, that's not for me," to those who tempt you to go the wrong way. The desire to fit in and be accepted is nearly universal at your age group. But the 'big men on campus' are those who know what they want and stick to it. They build a great reputation, and attract, dare I say, the best people who are likewise interested.
There is another danger on Christian campuses of which I cannot speak directly, but I know to be present. You will hear and be tempted to accept views that radically differ from your parents and your church. For sure, your use of a King James Bible will be attacked, and some warped idea of creation blended with elements of evolution will tantalizingly be presented as more plausible. If you don't have a ready answer, do some digging. You will find that your upbringing is well founded. The Bible stands every test we give it!
If you're feeling stumped, avail yourself of the resources listed at HoldingFast.net/Others-Like-Us. I have found these men to have solid, intellectually satisfying answers to many common questions.
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