Higher education begets commitment to Christ

The Pew Research Center recently found that higher education leads to deeper-committed Christians. Some John Brown University faculty and students strongly agree.

Pew released a survey on April 26 challenging the common belief that committed religious people (specifically Christians) are more likely to be uneducated instead of educated. The survey revealed that highly educated Christians are more likely to be committed to their faith than their less-educated counterparts.

This is unsurprising to David Brisben, professor of Christian ministries, who said, “We’re thinking, rational beings, not just people who just go to school to get our college degree or anything else. And, consequently, Christianity has to appeal to our thought processes. It has to be intellectually credible. People [who study Christianity] find exactly that—it’s intellectually credible. It’s reasonable faith. It satisfies who we are as thinking beings and appeals to that part of us.”

Brisben also explained why Christians who don’t pursue higher education are less likely to be deeply rooted.

“People who don’t [pursue higher education] for whatever reason aren’t ready for the kinds of challenges that you get from an unbelieving world there are people out there that are opposed to Christianity and all religions, and think religion is the bane of all civilization and heeds human progress, so they want to discredit all religions. And if you can’t answer those challenges, it’s hard to hold onto your faith,” Brisben said.

“Speaking for myself, it forces me to not only deal with questions of intellectual satisfaction. It forces me to be able to communicate [them] clearly,” Brisben said regarding how further education has deepened his faith personally.

“Being able to [answer questions] increases my comfort level with Christianity. When I’m able to witness and share my faith in an intellectually satisfying way that shows the reasonableness of it to others—that does something to me in terms of building my own faith and strengthening me as a believer,” Brisben said.

Brisben isn’t the only person on JBU’s campus who feels this way. Luke Chamberlain, a junior in construction management, shared similar thoughts, “I think that higher education [serves to] open your mind [and] raise questions about your faith that encourage you to press the boundaries on it. Ultimately, that will strengthen your faith.”

Matthias Herman, a junior in business management, spoke from his personal experience as a student.

“It’s along the same lines, for me at least, being in a Christian environment. I see people around me who I think really exhibit Christ, and that inspires me to be more like [them]. I want to be more like Christ, and if there are others around me that are doing that, that motivates me,” Herman said.

Herman continued, “It also really helps to have Christian professors who really care about you and have knowledge to come alongside and encourage you to ask yourself the hard questions. [That] really develops my faith.”

For students of JBU’s campus who want to be challenged, Herman emphasized some of the “many ways to practice this,” through multiple chapels every week, growth groups, and Breakaway retreats during the fall semesters.