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The Problem of Academic Freedom

Updated on February 27, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Some Educators are Upset

In recent years, there have been some prominent and some not so prominent post secondary educators who have been removed from their positions in Christian Universities.

These professors failed to follow the statement of faith they signed when they were hired by those Christian academic institutions and taught topics not in line with God’s word.

Once they were found out the different academic institutions took the necessary steps to remove those professors from their teaching positions and employment. Most were not happy with what had happened and made sure the public know about it.

The Call to Academic Freedom

Those recent employment events had upset many different professors, both Christian and non-Christian. Their uproar could be heard all across different educational websites, their own blogs and more.

It is understandable as to why they would be upset as their teaching methods may be threatened and they would not be able to explore different topics fully. In other words, they were upset because their idea of academic freedom was being challenged.

There were many articles by professors about how Christian universities needed to practice academic freedom and let different professors teach the content they wanted and not what their academic institution wanted taught.

In their minds, Christian colleges, etc., should be teaching alternatives to what the Bible teaches. That was what academic freedom was all about. False ideas must be taught to Christian students because the unbeliever demanded it to be done.

At no time did these professors advocate that their institutions adhere to academic freedom and have biblical creation and other biblical facts taught in their schools’ curriculum.

It was a one way street only which tried to ruin Christian content at those Christian Universities.

Christian Colleges Are Restricted

This is not a bad thing. Because these institutions stand up in public and say they believe God, Jesus and the Bible, their curriculum choices are immediately restricted. They are limited by their confession of faith to teach what God has taught in the Bible.

In their minds, allowing academic freedom t be a key lynchpin in their teaching methods, would be the same as allowing false teachers and teaching into their borders. In fact, academic freedom is supporting false teaching, something that is condemned in the Bible. While the secular institutions would not agree, any teacher or academic institution not teaching the truth is bringing false teaching to their students.

Anything that contradicts the Bible or calls the Biblical content false, is false teaching. Now Christian academic institutions can teach evolution and other false topics. But they cannot teach those alternative ideas as true and God’s words as false.

These Christian professors and institutions can talk about evolution, etc., and then show why they are false ideas and where these theories, etc., fall short of being true. Obviously in more detail and giving rational and logical examples of why those alternatives are false.

God is Not Behind Academic Freedom

If people question the origins of academic freedom reside, the believer can easily point to the Bible and show everyone that God is not the author of that educational method.

At no time in the Bible does God say to teach false ideas. Throughout the New Testament, the biblical authors spoke against false teachers and false teaching. They also stated very clearly that if these teachers teach anything other than what Jesus and the disciples brought, it was not to be received.

God is also very clear in the Old Testament, starting in Deuteronomy 4, going through chapters 5 and 6 that academic freedom was not his chosen educational method. He says:


Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Deut. 4:1


The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it Deut. 4:14


But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you all the commandments and the statutes and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I give them to possess Deut. 5; 31


And


Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,.. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Deut. 6:1 & 7

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, you will see that God restricts education to his ways, his rules, his information and the truth. False ideas and false information are not to be taught nor are they to be accepted as true.

God does not support academic freedom.

Some Final Words

Not everyone likes education. Teachers do but sadly so many teachers have been led astray from teaching the truth. That group also included many who claim to be Christian but who have decided that science and the secular world knows better than God.

It is a failure of the church and many academic institutions to let these false teachers into the Christian arena. It is a good thing that many Christian academic institutions have stood against this trend and sent those false teacher from their midst.

While getting knowledge is good, and the Bible tells us to get knowledge, just any kind of knowledge is not what is talked about. A believer has to find the truth, adopt it and then apply that truth correctly especially in their teaching the younger generations.

The truth is found via the Spirit of Truth and not in the secular world for the secular world are the very people the Christian is to be a light to. The Christian can’t shed God’s light when their information comes from those who want academic freedom to preach false things.

© 2019 David Thiessen

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