Though higher education has slowly deteriorated over the last century, a few colleges remain where someone can obtain a true liberal arts education—Harvard, Princeton, Yale, some Universities of California, Stanford, etc. Likewise, while our list of allies grows thin, there are still a few colleges left in America that are 100% committed to our Lord Jesus Christ. But the reality is, there is only one college left in America where those two criteria intersect—Patrick Henry College. Sure, a Christian can survive Harvard without the loss of his soul. And a hard-working individual can supplement the typical education available at the few remaining Christian Colleges.
But at Patrick Henry College alone can a person be ensured of receiving that rigorous, soul-and-mind-forming education, all within an environment dedicated to Christ.
For essentially the reason above, I spent ten years teaching in a state university, with the real prospect of moving on to something illustrious. But that always felt a bit hollow. We all know the behemoth of secular atheistic humanism that undergirds academia today, which imbues a false worldview into its consumers—and we have all seen the statistics on how many Christians walk away from Christ because of their experience in college; Satan is quite successfully prowling and devouring in the fertile hunting grounds he has been given. So I strove to combat the lies, if only for the sake of the faithful on campus; I labeled myself a “worldview sniper for Jesus.” But within academia’s rules, one still has to teach a partial history, partial literature—and that is really not true history and literature. Here at PHC, I can tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We can see why empires rise and fall, we can investigate the character (or lack thereof) of movers and shakers in history—but not just to be able to regurgitate factoids; that helps nobody. Rather, I can teach history and literature here with a laser-like focus on helping my students live rigorously ad maiorem Gloria Dei—for the greater glory of God. I realized long ago two things about my calling as a professor for our Lord: first, that a single dash between two dates on a headstone eventually summarizes the total of our lives, in many ways. What will that dash signify? Second, I have a breath of a moment with the students who pass through my door; can I help them (and my- self) live and die better for Christ through a quality education? I want only to do that exceptionally, for Christ—and in a typical secular college, even a prestigious one, my efforts would be hamstrung.
At PHC, I teach a foreign language Californian. Just kidding. Seriously, I am surrounded by amazing colleagues, and students who love each other and love Christ—I have to pinch myself each morning when I come to teach. I suppose that how I differ from other teachers is my obsession with “interdisciplinary narrative.” Early on I discovered that most people reading this article had HORRIBLE history experiences, because of bad teachers who belabored their students with dates, dudes, and dead people (and never mind about Christ). But how can that be, when throughout most of history the study of history was simply THE vehicle by which one learned everything else? Have we gotten it that wrong?
Yes, we have. So I decided to get back to stories. History is about the choices of people, and these people and their choices weave together to make a patchwork of events.
And, given that these people are fallen, it’s often a very sad story. But the light of Christ shines through, by his grace. In many ways, much of that light has fallen on the hodgepodge of peoples, places, and cultures that we call Western Civilization, which has interested me most. So, I teach my students about the lives of great men and women. Additionally, we see that our subjects’ lives don’t just involve events, they involve poems, paintings, buildings, spoons, prose works, etc.—so a real study of lives involves the study of other disciplines ancillary to history. Finally, in the end, we make humble, well-measured judgments about these people’s choices. Not to make ourselves feel better, but so that we can live better, for Jesus. This is what I do in a Patrick Henry College classroom, and I love it.