Meet Kevin Roose. He looks like your average nice college dude, and he is sitting in the pews in the chapel at Brown University. You may not have known Brown has a chapel, what with it being a bastion of liberalism, but it does. There is an interesting news piece about this young man who is a student at Brown but decided to go “behind enemy lines” and spy on the domain of Jerry Falwell for a semester, and write a story about his experience. Here is the link you should paste into your browser.

Now Kevin has written a book about his discoveries, entitled The Unlikely Disciple, and it is an unexpectedly interesting read. He may have gone to do an expose piece, but what he discovered was mostly good things. Yes, there were students who gossiped, and yes there were students doing the Facebook thing (oh no, not that!), and what he did not find was God’s commandos planning another raid, or at least protest, at an abortion clinic. Well, the thing is, Liberty University today is a wildly more liberal place than it was twenty years ago (I jest) when I visited the child of one of my parishioners there to see how she was faring. I mean dating and public displays of affection are even allowed these days on campus– what’s the world coming to? Shoot Kevin even ended up singing in the choir at Thomas Road Baptist Church. And this brings me to the point of this post.

Though Kevin went clandestinely to Liberty, his book is actually pretty fair, and it is clear that his semester there had more good effect on him, than this book could have negative effect on Liberty. He prays regularly now and is considering joining a church.

And this brings me to a key point— without pre-conditions, and without pre-conceptions we need to be welcoming at our Christian schools. I remember very well a conversation I had with President Harold Ockenga about 1975. He had told the admissions committee at Gordon-Conwell to allow a Mormon and a Jehovah’s witness to enroll. This created something of a furor amongst some students and trustees. Was the school going liberal? Ockenga’s response was right on target– “Look, we are supposed to be able to share our faith and convert folks. And where better to do so then in a truly Christian school? If a Mormon comes here and isn’t at all changed when he leaves, you have to wonder about how good a witnesses we are.” Amen to that.

We need to stop being so self-protective and stop making fear-based decisions in our churches and schools. After all, our Bible says “greater is He who is in us, than any of those worldly forces”. If we really believed that, it would change the way we do Christian education and church.

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