Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the February issue of The Mustang Connection magazine.
We have discussed the absolute urgency of Christian higher education. Education is not neutral. It does not merely provide skills for a job but also instills an entire worldview that can be for better or for worse.
Education, then, is a matter of eternal consequence. The stakes are too high to take the issue lightly.
Likewise, we have discussed the absolute necessity of a Christian liberal arts education. While we are often consumed with getting a job, God has a higher standard. He not only cares about our life in vocation but about how one stands for Christ in family (Eph. 5:22-6:3), church (1 Tim. 3:14-16), government (1 Pet. 2:13-14), and society (Col. 4:4-5). Therefore, education should prepare us for all that He will hold us accountable to when we stand before Him (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10). And that kind of education happens when we learn how to discern all of life under the lordship of Christ.
That being said, all of this assumes a central reality: an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture. After all, without Christ and Scripture, education will teach the wrong worldview. And without Christ and Scripture, education categorically cannot equip one to please Christ or make an eternal difference. Any erosion to Christ and Scripture causes education to fall dangerously short of its intended instruction and purpose.
All of this points out the simple reality that true education demands Christ and Scripture. That is what makes education be what it should be and do what it should do. Everything discussed above rises or falls on this conviction.
So what does an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture mean?
The idea of absolute is important. The word denotes that which is fixed and immovable. Something that is absolute does not bend to anything; rather, everything bends to it. That which is absolute cannot be compromised, negotiated, made secondary, or altered. It determines everything and is subject to nothing.
Therefore, an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture is more than just having a doctrinal statement. It is more than appealing to one’s Christian heritage or tradition. It is more than having a denominational affiliation. It is certainly more than being Christian in name. And it is even more than having chapel multiple times a week or having Christians on campus. Those are all good things, but an absolute commitment is something far deeper and broader than that.
One way to think about an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture is through the phrase “Christ in all things.” The language is derived from Ephesians 1:23, and each word (and even the word order) of this is critical.
First is the word “Christ.” It is significant that the specific term “Christ” is used. This is a recognition that, in Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ is God and is central. He is the One who is in the first promise of redemptive history (Gen. 3:15), the One who drives redemptive history (Ex. 3:2; Zech. 12-14; Matt. 27-28), and the One who receives all honor at the climax of redemptive history (Rev. 4-5).
The use of the word “Christ” is no accident. It is a deliberate reflection on the totality of Scripture. It presumes the highest view of Scripture — one cannot claim to love Christ yet deny His Word (John 14:23). It also demands a careful hermeneutic, one that studies and surrenders (2 Tim. 2:15) to every word of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). It also requires a comprehensive theology. After all, Scripture directly reveals not only the person and character of Christ but also theological realities, promises, history, prophecies, and wisdom that revolve around Him. All of this must be understood for His glory. Hence, the word “Christ” reflects a mentality that desires to be theologically exhaustive. And to truly know and uphold Christ is to maintain, pursue, and go deeper into this total theology.
However, if Christ is so central, then He must not only be central in belief but also in one’s life. If He is the center of God’s plan and receives all glory, honor, and power, then He must be that over our lives (Col. 3:17).
So the term “Christ” stands as a reminder of intensive doctrinal fidelity in both knowledge and practice. And such doctrinal fidelity is supremely authoritative.
The word “Christ” is the first word of the phrase “Christ in all things” for a reason. It is first and foremost, authoritative, and defining of everything else. “Christ” in all things demands the highest view of Scripture, the highest theological definition, and the highest view of Christ, His honor, and His authority. That is what drives an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture.
Such theological conviction about Christ must play out in a very particular way. As the phrase says, He is “in” all things. Although a small preposition, the word “in” matters.
Sometimes, schools will teach about Christ as one subject of many. Bible and theology are taught alongside of math, history, politics, music, science, and economics. However, that is not Christ “in” all things; that is Christ “and” all things. At that point, Christ and Scripture is just one idea among many, and one’s commitment to Christ and Scripture is no different than his commitment to everything else. That is not an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture.
In other cases, schools will say that every subject provides insight into Christ. That initially sounds well and good. But what people mean by this is that whatever someone observes in a discipline dictates who Christ is and what He is about. That approach creates Christ in one’s own likeness or desire. Whatever one thinks, from science to Shakespeare, becomes the definition of Christ. With that mentality, Christ and Scripture are not defining people’s disciplines, but people’s disciplines are defining Christ and Scripture. While this idea may sound noble at first, it is far from an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture. In fact, it is an absolute commitment to everything over Christ and Scripture.
There is a reason that the phrase is not “Christ and all things,” or even “all things in Christ.” Instead, “Christ in all things” emphasizes that Christ is not only lord over some things but everything. And within that, it emphasizes that every single assertion within any given subject or discipline must be taken captive to the lordship of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Though the preposition “in” is small, it is vital. It conveys the absoluteness of an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture, that Christ’s lordship defines every area of life and everything within those areas.
That is why the final part of the phrase “Christ in all things” is “all things.” What does this mean for an institution of Christian higher education? What must Christ and Scripture dictate at such an institution?
Fundamentally, the concept would include every person. Faculty, staff, and students all must possess this conviction as they genuinely affirm an extensive doctrinal statement. Consistently, that demands a very careful hiring and enrollment process. In fact, enrollment must not only discern the right kind of entrant for the school, but also must declare the glories of Christ in recruiting students.
Along that line, “all things” must include not only people, but all that they do. Professors in what they teach, how they teach it, how they shepherd and disciple students, the standards they have, how they view the educational enterprise, and what and how they research are all directed by and for the lordship of Christ. Similarly, dorm life, student life, and co-curricular activities like athletics and theater must be rigorously conformed to Christ in every component. The way one counsels and the principles that drive campus life must be determined by Christ and Scripture.
On top of this, the way operations occur, from accounting to IT to financial aid to events, must all be done according to Christ. In these matters, Christ dictates the standard of what takes place, the reasons for existing policies, how one interacts with students, how one serves the campus community, and the way one relates with those both internal and external to the institution.
In addition to all of this, Christ certainly must be in the leadership. What they emphasize is centered on Him, what they hold people accountable to is based upon Him and His Word, who they point people to is Him, the manner of their leadership is patterned after Him, and their entire forward strategy solely strives to preserve faithfulness to Him.
Christ in “all things” demands that one takes everything on a Christian university campus, puts it under the microscope, and sees how Scripture determines every single thing be defined and done as an act of worship to Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31). That is what an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture requires.
There is a reason that the symbol of The Master’s University is a shield. Truth matters. It is not an opinion or feeling but the way things really are (Prov. 8:22-31).
Truth is not here one day and gone tomorrow; truth has been and will be forever. It defines all things, outlasts all things, overcomes all things, and is the ultimate standard for all things. It gives the only right answers to life’s most important questions and so makes the difference between life and death, heaven and hell, knowing God or being enslaved to idolatry and sin, and eternal life or eternal condemnation. It alone is what sets people free (John 8:32). Nothing is more vital than the truth.
The oracles of God have been entrusted to His people in the past (Rom. 3:2), and presently the church is the pillar and grounds of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). And at this university, we believe our role is to shield this sacred trust by ensuring that the truth is not distorted but upheld as the authoritative definer of all things (cf. Gal. 2:5; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Have we been perfect in our endeavor for an absolute commitment to Christ and Scripture? No. But we do know and pursue the standard we must hold ourselves to.
We know we cannot just teach a variety of subjects with Christ on the side. The standard is not Christ and all things.
We know we cannot just have certain things look Christian on our campus. The standard is not Christ in some things.
We know we cannot use human observations and thoughts to define Christ and Scripture. The standard is not all things in Christ.
Rather, the standard is Christ in all things and nothing less than that. This is what makes for a true education, one that gives not just facts but the whole truth, one that gives true wisdom, one that prepares for all of life, one that makes an eternal difference, one that pleases the God who ordained it (Prov. 8:22; Col. 1:9-11; 2:8). That has been our commitment for the past 95 years, and we pray that by God’s good grace, it will be our resolve for many more.
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