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Grasshoppers and Giants

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Three articles dealing with two less than small Christian colleges caught my attention. The first article was written by Hanna Rosin and highlights Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.[1] Rosin is the author of the book God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America. God’s Harvard is Patrick Henry College. Of course, anyone familiar with American history surely knows that it was America’s first Harvard, established in 1636, that had a similar goal:

“Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.”

The September 3, 2007 issue of Newsweek carries an article with the title “Campus Crusaders,” a semi-review of Rosin’s book. I love these lines from the article: “Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville, Va., is the kind of place that would make most coastal liberals run screaming. A tiny college with about 500 students, its stated goal is to ‘prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture.’ . . . [W]hat liberal intellectuals fear most about evangelical Christians is in this case partially true: the students at Patrick Henry College do want to take over the world and they do think that anyone without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is going to hell.”[2] Gives me shivers every time I read it.

Can you believe it? Liberals are threatened by 500 students! Liberals control nearly all the major colleges in America, and they’re afraid of Patrick Henry College. There’s a lesson here that we’ll get to later in this article.

The third article was written about New St. Andrews College located in Moscow, Idaho.[3] The following paragraph from the articles gives me hope:

“The students and teachers call what they are doing ‘classical Christian education.’ They believe it’s much more than memorizing Latin declensions and Aristotle’s principles of rhetoric, though they do plenty of that. Doug Wilson, 54, the pastor who spearheaded New St. Andrews’ founding, puts the college’s purpose simply: ‘We are trying to save civilization.’ He’s not alone in his mission. The C.C.E. movement began in the early 1980s among Protestant evangelical private schools and home-schoolers who scorned most conservative Christian colleges, which were long on classes in business management and Bible prophecy but short on history, literature and ideas. Now the movement boasts a host of home-schooling associations and curriculum companies, more than 200 private schools and college programs around the country. Evangelicals at New St. Andrews are using dead languages and ancient history to reinvent conservative Protestant education.”

Here begins the lesson. God had promised to give the land of Canaan to Israel. Just as He was about to bring the Israelites into the land, God put forth one more test. Twelve men, twelve representatives of the nation, were sent to spy out the land. They spent forty days at their task after which they returned with evidence of everything God had told them: “Indeed, it was a land flowing with milk and honey.” But they also brought back a report about giants and grasshoppers.

You know the story. The majority believed the report of the spies instead of the many promises made by God. Forty years were wasted in the wilderness in wandering because of unbelief. God’s Word was evaluated in terms of external circumstances. The paganism of Canaan festered for forty more years because the salve of Israel could not be applied. A generation died in the wilderness because of the failure to believe God's promise. But the forty years did pass.

This time Israel would enter the land, but not before God set them straight on the difference between walking by sight and walking by faith. The previous generation chose to walk by sight: “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Num. 13:33). They acted on what they saw. Notice the promise about the land: “I am going to give to the sons of Israel” the land of Canaan (13:2). Contrast the unbelieving response of the Israelites who saw God deliver them from every obstacle with that of Rahab who only heard about it:

“Now before [the two spies] lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, ‘I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did tot he two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above and on earth beneath’” (Joshua 2:8–11).

Forty years before, events gave the impression that the Israelites would be defeated by the Canaanites, by the cultural giants of their day. They were mistaken. The residents of the land thought of themselves as grasshoppers and the Israelites as giants.

Why write about these two small colleges in Nowheresville, USA, when there are so many giant universities beholden to liberal ideology churning out liberal robots? Because, they are afraid. They are only giants because we perceive them that way. In reality, Patrick Henry College and New St. Andrews are the real giants. When more Christians understand that culture can be changed, maybe they won’t be so afraid and will finally act on their faith.

Footnotes:
[1]
Hanna Rosin, “Bush’s real legacy: Faithful conservatism,” USA Today (October 1, 2007), 19A.
[2] Lisa Miller, “Campus Crusaders,” Newsweek (September 3, 2007)
[3] Molly Worthen, “Onward Christian Scholars,” The New York Times (September 30, 2007)
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