Nate’s blog is full of big questions. I think we should spend some time on many of those issues. For now, I’ll just address this question: “So Dr. Jake, from your perspective, why do so many college students leave the faith during college years?”
I’ll argue that most students who go through faith crises in college are not really questioning God’s existence; Jesus’ life, ministry, and divinity; salvation, etc,. What they are really questioning is their family’s, church’s, youth pastor’s “brand” of who God is. They feel like they’re at a crossroads: believe my parents or believe my professors. That’s a scary place to be.
A friend of mine who teaches in our Biblical Studies division once told me that when a student enters his office and says, “I don’t believe in God,” his first reaction is to ask, “Tell me more about this God you don’t believe in.” What begins, then, is a critical dialogue about God and about that student’s faith journey and background.
What I’ve noticed about our students is that many of them were never asked by their parents, churches, or youth pastors what THEY think about faith, God, salvation, etc. They’re told what to think, so they enter college without any real critical thinking skills. And, ultimately, they become even more vulnerable to a variety of opposing worldviews.
We have many students who go through periods of doubt and skepticism at JBU; however, the professors here are committed to walking with students and allowing them to ask the difficult questions. We have to allow people to ask the difficult questions. They’re really asking God; you just happen to be standing there at the time.