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How To Stay Christian in College

One of the most trying times spiritually for me was my freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill. I loved college and wanted to embrace every opportunity the social scene afforded. But I also had become a Christian as a 12 year old and had learned certain dos and donts that Christians are to abide by. This ethical code came under direct attack that first year as ‘freedom’ seemed to now be a temptress when she was supposed to be my ally in Christ. Why had she switched teams?

The reality is I came to college largely unprepared to THINK from a Christian perspective. I knew right from wrong, but I didn’t know why something was right or wrong. I couldn’t tie my ethics to anything other than ‘the bible says so.’ So when someone said ‘That bible isn’t even the same one from when it was originally written. It’s changed entirely over time and through translation errors,” doubt struck deep. I had nothing. “How can there be absolute truth?” “Ummm…” I wasn’t ready. I had the ethics, but I needed the worldview behind the ethics. If only someone who knew the college scene had prepared me for it. Maybe I could have gone in a missionary instead of as fresh meat.

My story is why I picked up J. Budziszewski’s book How to Stay Christian in College. This is a small, short book that has sold over 300k copies. J-Bud (cause i can’t keep writing his name) is a tenured professor in government and philosophy at the University of Texas and appears to be an evangelical Christian. He does an strong job writing on the level of his target audience: High school seniors, college students, and their parents. And he has a lifetime of experience in exactly this topic.

Strong Points: Easy, quick read you can skim. It is also structured well so you can pull it off your shelf as a resource when you encounter the challenges he talks about. He uses direct language and everyday illustrations so that you can not only understand what you read, but can feel confident wielding the ideas as weapons when you are in these worldview battles on campus. Lastly, he’s a

Weak Points: It brings up ALOT of subjects that it can only give introductory treatments of. If you get in anything more than a 5 minute discussion on these topics you are going to need more help. But that’s the point of the work so I don’t fault the author here. He picks one or two fights I would avoid (like R-rated movies) but I don’t disagree with the logic he presents. My only real critique is in his sample conversations he gives. I was real hopeful for these but found them a little too unrealistic at the end of the day.

You might be tempted to give this to a graduating senior going off to college. You’d have the right idea, but I remember getting books like this and Dr. Seuss’ oh the places you’ll go and both ending up in the “thanks for that weird gift I’ll never open” pile. So, IF you give it to them, commit to read it with them or at least send them here or another site so they get an idea of how valuable it could be to them.

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