Easy to complain; hard to know what to do. The problem of kids getting their Christian faith crushed by secular intellectualism in colleges has never been more intense. The college campus could offer a wonderful place for individuals to strengthen their faith if there could be genuine, open dialogue. I don’t mind the college campus remaining secular if it could be genuinely open and liberal-minded toward the Christian worldview.
“THERE IS NO DOGMA MORE PREVALENT within American high culture than that smart people outgrow God,” said Douglas Henry, an assistant professor of philosophy and director of Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning. “The more educated, the more erudite, the more discerning and wise one is, the less one is inclined to be a deeply pious Christian, the thinking goes. In higher education, this dogma gets expressed in the axiom that academic excellence and Christian faithfulness are incompatible.” “Professing Faith,” by Karen Houppert, Mother Jones December/January 2006 Issue
My purpose for this post is to bring focus on Steve and Betsy Sternberg, who are doing something about this problem. They interact with the faculty at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and they invite top-thinking Christian intellectuals to speak on campus to encourage dialog. Here are some reasons I like them and what they’re doing:
They have been around a while and have staying power.
Steve and Betsy Sternberg have served together on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ,since 1969.
They have international exposure and think globally.
In 1973, Steve and Betsy started the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ in Galway. Ireland,and from 1974-1988 while living in Vienna, Austria and Erlangen, West Germany, they joined with six other couples and pioneered the Campus Crusade ministry behind the Iron Curtain, concentrating in Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria and East Germany. During this time they also traveled to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Russia.
They operate with a focused strategy.
The Sternbergs returned to the U.S. in 1988 and joined the Campus Crusade for Christ faculty ministry, Christian Leadership Ministries (now, Faculty Commons). In 1990, they began to direct Dallas Christian Leadership (DCL), the Campus Crusade faculty ministry at SMU. Their vision is reaching professors who will change the world! DCL is a group of SMU educators, alumni and friends whose purpose is to strengthen the spiritual climate at SMU by reaching out and ministering to members of the academic community.
They function in a variety of settings.
While at SMU, Steve and Betsy have ministered to individual professors, led small faculty groups, co-hosted symposia and debates with SMU departments and campus ministries. They have also sponsored Faculty-Alumni luncheons, an annual SMU Athletic Dept. Appreciation breakfast, faculty workshops and forums. Recent luncheon speakers have included Dawn Eden (New York Daily News), Xiqiu Fu, founder of China Aid, Dr. Michael Lindsay, Rice University, Prof. Randy Beck, UGA Law School, and Dr. Billy Abraham, SMU Perkins School of Theology, who also gave lectures and classroom presentations. In addition to assisting Steve on campus, Betsy,a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, volunteers as a pastoral counselor at Fellowship Bible Church Dallas.
They have survived parenthood and are now gratified empty-nesters.
Steve and Betsy have three grown children and live in Dallas, TX.
They read widely and understand both sides of every major argument.
“The real difficulty amounts to this — that the thought of the day, as it makes itself most strongly felt in the universities, . . . is profoundly opposed to Christianity, or at least — what is nearly as bad — it is out of all connection with Christianity. What is today a matter of academic speculation, begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires.” -J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Culture, pg. 6ff
“The great universities of the Western world raise fundamental questions from the Christian point of view. They are pretty thoroughly secularized. The prevailing atmosphere in them is not congenial to Christian spiritual values. One wonders if Christ would find himself at home in them, and to a Christian nothing is more serious than if Christ is not at home in the great citadels of learning.”
– Charles Malik, A Christian Critique of the University, 1982
If you would like to learn more or take action and participate in the Sternberg’s ministry (I do), here’s how to connect with them:
Steve.Sternberg@facultycommons.org and/or (214)349-1109.