The Issue at Hand, August 2021: The College Battleground

There might be a temptation for readers who are not planning to attend college to read the title of this month’s issue of Beacon Lights and think to themselves, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me, so I’ll pass on this one. Maybe next month will be more relevant.”

If that is what is going through your mind…please don’t take a pass on this edition!

Even if college isn’t in your future, the articles this month are still going to be relevant to your life because you are part of a spiritual body with many members. While not every member of the body of Christ will be enlisted to fight on each battlefield in “the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), none may sit on the sidelines watching his fellow members take a beating without any effort to help. Your fellow soldiers need your understanding and encouragement as they prepare to do battle in the college and university setting. They are called to do the same for you when you enter the battlefield of the secular workplace. Like Old Testament armorbearers, we are all encouraged to equip one another for the fight and to provide steady support throughout the battle of faith.

And a battle it is!

The second half of Ephesians 6, which describes the armor of God, is not just a cute analogy. Spiritual warfare is a deadly business because we are doing battle “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (v.12). These enemies aren’t just looking to draw a little blood. They want your soul. They know your vulnerability as you exit the “bubble” of Christian schools and will seek to exploit it at every turn.

One of the most effective tactics these enemies will use in the college or university setting is the strategy of “divide and conquer.” If a believer can be separated from his or her fellow saints and diverted away from the primary mission of serving God, the enemies know they are likely to score a victory. Young believers are especially vulnerable in this regard because they are frequently unprepared for the devious nature of this strategy. They might expect the frontal assault of words attacking the Christian faith, which are very real and deadly. But they aren’t necessarily ready for the sneak attack that preys on their insecurity of being alone and uncertain in a new environment.

A secular university professor recently commented on the vulnerability of new college students by describing them as “teenagers who arrive on campus in search of a tribe to join and a dragon to slay.”[1] This is incredibly accurate in my experience. Students usually come to college with few true friends and a weak sense of purpose regarding their future. Oftentimes the first group of people who provide a sense of acceptance and common purpose will become a student’s “tribe” and will get to define what “dragon” is to be slain. Through this crafty strategy, students are absorbed into a community that has no interest in the God of scripture and has as its purpose the goal of thwarting that God’s will.

Be aware of this dangerous strategy, young person, and make plans to counter the attack! As a believer, you already have a tribe. It’s called the church. If you are staying at home during your college years, stay grounded in the church to which you belong. If you are moving away, make it your first priority to find a faithful, local church with which you agree in doctrine and practice and join yourself to that part of Christ’s body. Participate in the life of this tribe (worship, bible study, acts of service) and make your friends among it. This is the fellowship you will need to survive the four years of battle in which you are about to engage.

And with the help of your “tribe,” make sure your efforts are focused on slaying the “dragon” that God’s word has identified for you. This is the dragon with three heads that threatens every true believer (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 127). Learn to fight the temptations of Satan. They will come at you with the enticements of the world and play to your own sinful desires. Chief among these sinful desires is the pursuit of your own glory, which is perhaps the greatest danger to the college student. With the help of your fellow saints, learn to crucify yourself and live for your Lord. By his grace you will learn to say with John the Baptist, “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Along with the feature articles on our topic for this month, we also include a republished article on postmodernism written a decade ago by Rev. Ryan Barnhill. This topic remains altogether relevant today as we see the evil fruit that this philosophy has yielded in higher education. We also welcome contributions from a guest writer for the monthly Devotional rubric and the new author for the Current Events rubric. As we enter the coming school year, the latter rubric will expand to include student contributions in a variety of ways. Our hope is to expand this practice to include writing from students across the Federation of Protestant Reformed Christian Schools, which serve as the central training ground for our authorship. May God bless these schools and the teachers who prepare young people for life after high school, including the college battleground.


Originally published August 2021, Vol 80 No 8


[1] Jonathon Anomaly, “The Grievance University.”Quillette Magazine. October 1, 2018.