The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) recently held their President’s Conference, in which Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Dr. Russell Moore, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi addressed a gathering of college presidents and students. With such a variety of speakers from various spheres of public life, there were many ideas that were shared on Christianity and education.
Moore spoke first and it was the highlight of the morning for people who needed to be reassured that Christianity is going to survive in our world today. Interestingly, he began his discussion by addressing a type of Prosperity Gospel, specifically addressing Christians who use their faith to gain personal power or status. This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said. “A prosperity Gospel is deadly to Gospel Christianity” he stressed. True Gospel Christianity should not just be a “way to achieve something that we want.” Jesus is the source of power. His power, selfless and sacrificial, is unlike the world’s idea of power, greedy and self-centered. The Gospel transforms lives and we must allow the power of Christ to bring life to evangelicals again and to reach non-Christians.
Moore referenced Luke 4, warning that the “Christianity that so many search for is a religion that is tame, easy, and normal. But that is not what Christ offers. He radically changes the world and disrupts the culture so that people will be more humble, loving, and selfless. Moore encouraged the Christian education leaders to be firm on what they believe and proclaim it loudly! He then reminded the audience that God is using people we would never expect to expand His kingdom. This is why it is our responsibility to treat everyone with love and respect, but also address sins that they see within the Church. Moore stated that the Church can be the loudest on the sins that are the least tempting, and then silent on the most difficult ones. We should aim for the opposite, he said.
Moore ended his message with the reminder that there is no need to fear the world because our powerful God is in control. Satan fears the saving blood of Jesus Christ, which is why Christians must center their lives on Him and must boldly proclaim His word.
This Gospel-centered message by Moore was unlike the next two speakers. Secretary DeVos was interviewed by CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra and was asked broad questions such as “what has been most satisfying in your job” and “what do you hope to accomplish.” She talked about her goal to make education more personalized for students and her initiative to rethink the way we do education in America. She advocated school choice and her desire to not limit students’ ability to be successful. It was a good conversation, but nothing dramatically new from the Secretary of Education. Disappointingly, she did not outspokenly discuss how her faith impacts her role as Secretary of Education.
Pelosi’s speech was much different from Moore and DeVos. She began by insisting America is a nation of charity and love and that we are all God’s children. She said, “We are all God’s children, there is a spark of divinity that exists in each of us, in our little ones at the border… in each of us, including ourselves.” Then the address quickly turned into her political thoughts.
She emphasized the need for immigration reform, touched on the difficulties of the current negotiations with the Trump administration, and urged Evangelicals to be advocates for immigrants. As people who believe in the dignity and value of all humans, we have a moral obligation to care for those at the border and treat everyone with respect, which is true. Pelosi quoted a Bishop who said, “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship, to ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us” (which is not actually in the Bible but closely resembles Proverbs 14:31).
Pelosi’s address was true to herself and her political party and she was thoughtful with her words. What was disappointing for me was that she used this short amount of time to lecture the audience on how the Christian faith seemingly demands that Christians support her ideas on immigration. Rather than focusing on Christian higher education’s important role in society, she emphasized her own political agenda. I was hoping to hear something that aligned more with the mission of CCCU, which is to “advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to Biblical truth.”
As an intern for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, it was an honor to hear from all of these speakers in person. But it was Moore’s words that left the biggest impact on me, and probably the rest of the room. Students and College presidents alike were reminded to boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel. Nothing compares to hearing the hope of Christ in the midst of a complicated and polarized time for our nation. I pray that this simple Gospel-centered message remains clear and in the forefront of those who are shaping the next generation of Christian leaders.Google+