Pass-Fail 101 by Joel Tom Tate

Pass-Fail 101

Joel Tom Tate on Three Ways to Make or Break a Christian College

The college I attended as an undergraduate, like most Evangelical Christian liberal arts colleges, had what we considered a rival school. We were shamefully prone to casting aspersions on its spiritual state, hinting that it was barely a Christian college anymore. We felt, admittedly, some unwholesome delight at the failing of another school, but also a pride that we were among a dwindling handful who were true stewards of the Evangelical heritage of higher education.

The rumors and sleights were usually poorly founded and ill motivated, but there was something to them. Even students chafing at our school’s high expectations for their behavior and agitating for certain changes were, for the most part, concerned about the health of Christian higher education and about the universal susceptibility to institutional drift. We knew intuitively what history clearly tells us: A college that seeks to be actively Christian in its identity and purpose is perched precariously in a place from which it can easily slip in any number of directions, and it is much easier and more likely to succumb by invisible degrees to some form of secularism than to remain in its place.

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Joel Tom Tate is the Director of Student Activities and the Campus Minister at the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vermont, in addition to being the pastor of North Chittenden Wesleyan in North Chittenden, Vermont, where he lives with his wife Christine, their three daughters, and a flock of ducks.

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