TRENDS & The role of the Christian college/seminary in preventing Douthat’s “crackup ” of Evangelicals #RichardMouw #CCCU

by Richard Mouw, Christianity Today, 1/3/18.

… New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has written recently about what he sees as a possible “crackup” that may be coming in the evangelical community…

One problem with the Douthat scenario is that it suggests that there is a significant gap between the vast majority of “ordinary” evangelicals and a much smaller band of “evangelical intellectuals.” To see whether that picture is really accurate, we have to fill in some specific detail.

There is, in fact, a rather significant network of evangelical academic institutions in North America. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) has a membership of 140 evangelical schools, with a total enrollment of over 300,000 students. In addition, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) reports that of the 270 member institutions that it accredits in North America, 40 percent of these seminaries identify themselves as evangelical, and their student bodies account for 60 percent—about 40,000 students—of those enrolled in graduate theological education. If we add to those numbers the many Bible institutes, colleges, and seminaries who are not members of either the CCCU or the ATS, it is fair to say that “evangelical intellectuals” are presently teaching almost a half-million students who have chosen to attend self-identified evangelical schools.

The majority of those students come from evangelical churches. And they will take what they learned from “evangelical intellectuals” into professional life when they graduate. This is not exactly a picture of ivory tower elites who live in a very different world than grassroots evangelicalism…

A well-known scholar—himself a secular Jew—once spent some time working on a project at Fuller Seminary. He was a good friend, and he made a point of sharing with me his impressions of what he experienced at Fuller. “This is a unique place, Richard,” he said. “Right now your faculty is holding two things together in an impressive manner. You have top-notch scholarship and you have strong connections to the grassroots.” Then he went on: “But you can’t keep that up. Eventually you will either dumb down your scholarship or you will lose touch with the grassroots. Holding the two in tension is great while it lasts, but it will inevitably come apart.”

I responded by telling him that Fuller was only one of many evangelical campuses where the successful holding-together was happening. And I said that I was confident we could all keep doing it well…

Ross Douthat’s “crackup” scenario is, in effect, a prediction that the defeat is coming. It does not have to happen that way, though…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/january-web-only/unlikely-crack-up-of-evangelicalism.html