I grew up in a small town extended family in which virtually everyone was a believer and in which my maternal grandfather was the lively, hilarious spiritual patriarch of the family. He was also a leading deacon in our church. I now understand this experience was a rare gift. Both of my parents are yet living and both are dedicated Christian people and have been since before I was born. Mom is a retired piano and organ teacher who has participated in church music since her teens, and Dad has been a member of my home church deacon board for over forty years. So it’s not a stretch to say my sister and I come from a “Christian home” in the best sense of that term. I made a personal profession of faith in Christ at six years of age and was baptized later.
In my family I learned and I believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word and our guide for faith and practice. As a young person I attended Sunday School, Daily Vacation Bible School, Church camp, Teens for Christ, and you name it, I was there. I did everything a kid from a Christian home and a fundamentalist church was supposed to do. Then I attended a Christian college.
It was also in Christian college that I found and pursued what became a wonderfully liberating understanding of the Christian faith, what we at that time called “a Christian theistic world-life view.” My growing understanding of a biblically based Christian philosophy of life gradually allowed me to set aside certain fears, undeveloped views, or limited understandings rooted in my good but sometimes legalistic church experience in favor of a still thoroughly biblical but culture-engaging, forward thinking perspective of life. Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer began writing his influential books just before and while I was in college, which he continued until his passing during our young married years. His books helped me look more positively and confidently upon the world, life, and learning, knowing the Christian faith offered “true truth,” as he called it, and that one need not fear learning something that would someday undermine one’s faith. My Christian college years also provided me with an excellent writing and critical thinking-based undergraduate education, with an attraction to the teaching profession and a sense of calling into Christian higher education, and with a friend who would become my wife of now 33 years.
Years hence I was finally able to write what I consider something of a personal manifesto, Christian Liberty: Living for God in a Changing Culture. This book expresses my understanding of how to apply a biblically Christian worldview so one may live “in the world” while being “not of the world,” yet remembering God said to go “into the world.” I believe regular prayer and Bible reading are important ways in which we may and should develop our relationship with the Lord and through which the Spirit of God enables us to live a life characterized by personal holiness. I am theologically conservative and consider myself a conservative evangelical, though I’m careful to note that the definitions of these terms are a moving target.
Applying a Christian worldview, or “integration” as it is called on many Christian campuses, is, I believe, at its most effective when it is comprehensive, constant, and consistent. In other words, everyone is thinking about it, doing it, and evaluating it all the time. Youthful students sometimes think this is wearisome, but there’s no question they learn in this kind of repetitious immersion, an experience that more mature alumni quite often remember fondly and praise God for later. As a caveat, though, I also believe it’s possible for a college or university to be thoroughly “integrative,” and maybe quite good at it, yet lack much evidence of an authentic and personal Christian faith experience in the lives of personnel and students. Head is active (intellectual caliber); maybe hand is active (service orientation); but heart is not engaged (spiritual interest).
I’ve gotten “in trouble” a couple of times using this next phrase because people misunderstood me, but it works for me: I believe it’s possible “to develop an academically excellent Christian university with the heart of a Bible college.” I mean that I do not believe intellectual sophistication, scholarly pursuit, academic excellence, and a Christian worldview are contradictory to spiritual dynamism, devotional disciplines, doctrinal fidelity, or concern for personal piety. Nor do I believe the reverse is true or that the presence of a Christian worldview understanding “guarantees” evangelistic, pietistic, or devotional attitudes and actions or vice versa. Unfortunately, I think some Christian institutions focus on one emphasis to the detriment of the other. That’s why I like the “Christian university with the heart of a Bible college” idea. In my experience you have to think about both and work at both even as you recognize that a truly biblical worldview is what “integrates” all of these concerns in a manner that can serve and please God.
In the mid-1990s, I wrote a booklet called "Encouraging a Christian Ministry Mindset" in the Christian Liberal Arts University. The thesis of this piece is that we should be equally interested in developing students’ personal and growing relationship with Christ—“What is God doing in your life?”—and their philosophic grasp of Christianity as a worldview—“How are you applying your Christian faith in culture?” People look upon WWJD as a cliché now, but rightly understood it’s not a poor question because it ties together both personal faith and what I call public faith.
I will be forever grateful for Christian parents who took me to a Bible-believing, preaching church, because that experience grounded me in the personal, revivalist, pietistic traditions of the Christian faith. I will be forever grateful for those same parents sending me to a Christian college where I learned what it means to apply the wonderfully encompassing and liberating truth of a biblically Christian worldview in all of life. And I will be forever grateful for the Lord giving to me a wife who loves the Lord, loves our children, and loves me, all while she lives the Christian faith with a gentle spirit.
Rex M. Rogers, Ph.D., (c) 2008