are wary, knowing that the faculty arernlargely in the employ of old slewfoot.rnBut at Wheaton, the Billy Graham Centerrnis right across the street, the jargon isrnfull of all the right God-words, and revivalsrnthat don’t change a damn thingrnstill appear with some regularity.rnBut parents who have spent years educatingrnthemselves on educational issuesrnare not going to forget what they havernlearned simply because their childrenrnare now in 13th grade. Nor will theyrnlook the other way just because the charadernis appropriately baptized. Such parentsrnwill beware of wolves in sheepskins,rnand this leads us to consider why many ofrnthem will come to the conclusion thatrnevangelical colleges.. . aren’t.rnFor the most part, these colleges werernestablished before the cultural fruit ofrnthe antithesis between secularism andrnChristianity was quite as apparent as it isrnnow. These colleges were founded overrna century ago, and the Christian schoolrnmovement has only developed withinrnthe last 20. The Christian school movementrnwas formed in self-conscious reactionrnto the regnant foolishness, while thernChristian colleges, proudly part of the establishment,rnare a significant part of thatrnfoolishness. These two movements arernalready looking at one another across arngreat divide.rnAccording to popular mythology inrnconservative circles, the 19th centuryrnwas a time of strong traditional values,rnwhen it was actually a monkey house ofrnradicalism. The traditional values, suchrnas they were, were the harvest of whatrnhad been planted in previous centuriesrn—vestiges of Christendom. Butrnthe crop that was sown in that era is thernone we are harvesting now. That this wasrnoccurring was apparent at that time tornforesighted individuals, but there werernnot many of them. Apostate Utopiasrnwere still at the blueprint stage, or, tornchange the metaphor drastically, thernpudding that proves had not yet beenrneaten.rnNow in the 19th century, when mostrnof these evangelical colleges were beingrnestablished, they were themselves a leadingrnmanifestation of this democratizingrnspirit, this Utopian pragmatism. Our nationrnwas young, full of beans and democraticrnzeal, and American evangelicalsrnwere industrious in making the democratizationrnof religion one of their centralrndistinctives. Among many other things,rnthis was reflected in the colleges theyrnbuilt. The principles institutionalized inrnthe evangelical colleges at that time havernnow borne fruit, which contemporaryrnevangelical parents are refusing to eat.rnA great deal of energy could be preservedrnif, before attempting reform, wernwould spend more time trying to identifyrnthe genuine point of departure. True,rnprayer was banished from the governmentrnschool system in the 1960’s, but thernroots of our disorder go much deeperrnthan this: they stem from the Americanrnabandonment of the idea of Christendom.rnThis abandonment did not comernall at once, but by the time of the establishmentrnof most denominational andrninterdenominational evangelical colleges,rnthe divorce had been finalized.rnWe like to think of the church as victim,rnbut on our continent, the churchrnhas largely played the role of instigator.rnThe good intentions involved did nothingrnmore than make the church a blindrninstigator. Like it or not, the church necessarilyrnhas a position of leadership. Therndeclension of culture in America is comparablernto well-meaning but naive parentsrnwho raise a child without discipline,rnwithout instilling self-control, and whornare then shocked at the extent of the rebellionrnapparent when that child getsrnaway from home. The extent of our currentrnrebellion can be seen in our culturalrnparade of sodomites, cotqueans,rnhealth nazis, and feminists. But the naturernof this rebellion was established longrnbefore. There were women in pulpitsrnand standing at altars long before theyrnwere seated in the cockpits of F-16s.rnCultures come to resemble their gods.rn”They that make them are like untornthem; so is every one that trusteth inrnthem” (Ps. 115:8). The new society, followingrnevangelicalism, emphasized personalrnchoice. This meant that the confessionalrnapproach to higher educationrnhad to be abandoned, and the electivernsystem was brought in to replace it.rnChurches were disestablished, and beganrnto compete for customers, just likernSears & Roebuck. St. Paul used to travelrnaround the ancient Roman world,rnpreaching the word and seeking disciples.rnOur churches began to hustlernaround the block, looking for clients andrncustomers. Religious colleges were operatingrnin the same strange world, and beganrnto compete for students with evenrnless of a confessional interest than thernchurches now had. For everyone wasrnnow in pursuit of customers, and, as thernworld of business teaches us, the customerrnis always right.rnThe market system works just finernwhen we are seeking the kind of toothpasternthat suits us best. But when therntrue, the good, and the beautiful arernmade into elective courses, no onernshould be surprised when freshmen consistentlyrnsign up for the far more popularrncourses promoting the false, the wrong,rnand the ugly. When colleges ceased tornpass on an inherited body of knowledgernand began catering to the interests andrndesires of the public, the destruction wasrncomplete. The fact that many of the collegesrnwhich ceased to pass on the traditionrnwere called “evangelical” matteredrnnot in the slightest.rnBut the appearance of market freedomrnis just an appearance. Elitism is inescapable;rnthe dominance of egalitarianismrnsimply means that the establishedrnelite must deck themselves out in thernname of supposedly neutral standards.rnEvangelical colleges have agreed to burnrntheir incense to the emperor, and nowrnregularly come before secular accreditingrnagencies and boards, hat in hand.rn”Please, sir, may we teach some scratchrn’n’ sniff form of the Christian faith?”rnWell, all r i g h t . . . for now.rnThis hunger for approval in disreputablernplaces has had a predictable effect.rn”How can ye believe, which receivernhonour one of another, and seek not thernhonour that cometh from God only?”rn(John 5:44). The pecking order has beenrnestablished, and those institutions whichrnare hungry for academic respectabilityrnmust respect the pecking order. Thisrnmeans that colleges which want accreditationrnmust get their faculty from previouslyrnapproved institutions, and mustrnvow never to do anything which seriouslyrnchallenges the existing order. Theyrnmust determine to be the very model ofrnkennel-fed Christianity.rnComplaints about the bizarre fruit ofrnall this are common because they are toorneasy. Postmodern whimwham presentsrnan easy target. But we have spent severalrncenturies getting here, and a stern letterrnto the denominational magazine will accomplishrnnothing. Our only real hope isrnthat the parents currentiy showing suchrnzeal in the sound education of theirrnyounger children will not be too tired,rnwhen the time comes, to turn their attentionrnto the establishment of small butrngenuine colleges.rnDouglas Wilson is a pastor in Moscow,rnIdaho, and the author of Recovering thernLost Tools of Learning.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn