We have just finished our third week–and first full week–of the new academic year at Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary. This is our 59th academic year, and we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of our founding in a year-long celebration beginning at the 2024 Annual Conference, to be held on our campus that June.* What keeps us going, though, is not the continuation of an educational institution, but the propagation of a mission that will impact families, congregations, and the world.
We teach the Word of God, but more than that, a statement of reality: The purpose of a worldview is to explain our observations, not to explain them away.** As we “establish students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom” our goal is to proclaim reality, not an alternate reality.
You probably have heard about the mental health crisis in our land, particularly among students the age of those in our undergraduate program. These students have endured a few years of enhanced national anxiety, fueled by grotesque political discourse, a pandemic, and various governmental responses to pandemic. Some of them have been in and out of in-person class and/or in and out of masks for their sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school. It hasn’t been our greatest moment educationally.
Our broader culture is whispering into their ears the most absurd of lies: They can’t even know for sure if they are male or female, and that holding to those categories is hateful and privileged. If one operating definition of sanity is “possessing a worldview in correspondence with reality,” then insisting that an entire culture embrace a worldview inconsistent with reality is a recipe for a mental health crisis. And so here we are.
The goal of education is not information leading to certification, but transformation. That’s why “who needs school when we have YouTube” is a disturbing approach. I would argue that “transformation” is the aim of any education; to early progressivists, both the family and education had to be absorbed into the state.*** But for a follower of Christ the transformational goal of education is central: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV) We have an entire educational philosophy built on this truth.
What motivates us is the picture we have of future families, congregations, and communities that will benefit from students thus established in God’s Word. Those students are taught God’s Word in such a way that their lives will be anchored and grounded in the truth, and thus equipped to live their lives in God’s world with conviction, prepared to live as disciples secure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, living their lives for the benefit of their fellow man.
Our campus isn’t the only place where this is happening, but it certainly is happening here. Thank you for your prayer and support of Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary. If you’re in the area, stop in; if not, plan a trip. We would love to give you a tour and show you what Christ is doing on and through our campus.
*If this sounds off, calculating dates here can be problematic, and in my opening address to students I got it wrong myself! The AFLC began in 1962. The Seminary started in 1964, though with an eventual Bible school in view. The first class of FLBC (then FLBS and later AFLBS) started with 13 students in one building (our current chapel) in 1965.
**Nancy Pearcey, who will visit our campus next spring, in her exceptional book Total Truth
***For example, John Dewey’s Laboratory School and Horace Mann’s Common School, see also The Communist Manifesto, chapter 2.
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