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Moody in My Rearview Mirror

I had no idea what I was in for when I first stepped foot onto the downtown Chicago campus of Moody Bible Institute in the fall of 2001.

  • Adam Kuehner,
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I had no idea what I was in for when I first stepped foot onto the downtown Chicago campus of Moody Bible Institute in the fall of 2001. As an advocate of the doctrines of grace, I expected to encounter occasional points of disagreement at my new school. Nevertheless, I hoped that the solid overall Moody experience would outweigh any “peripheral” disagreements. Little did I know the amount of hot air I would soon encounter in the Windy City.

From the very outset, I noticed Moody’s frightening tendency toward liberalism and political correctness. During orientation, we were shown a video encouraging racial harmony among the student body, and the host of the presentation encouraged everyone to admit to his or her tacit acceptance of racism and confess it. During the subsequent small group discussion, a thirty-something white male explained that he was ashamed of his Caucasian roots and wished he had grown up with a real cultural identity. It was shocking to hear such things at an evangelical Bible college.

Things only got worse when classes started. In my Personal Evangelism class, for instance, the professor declared that repentance was not part of the gospel and, therefore, not necessary for salvation. According to her philosophy of evangelism, Christians ought to focus on winning people to Christ, rather than bogging themselves down with specific ethical or theological details. Homosexuals and prostitutes, as such, should not be approached about their sinful lifestyle until after they have “received Christ.” One student, a former homosexual, criticized Jerry Falwell’s stance against sodomy, claiming that it “upset many homosexuals.” The professor agreed, arguing that such an outspoken approach caused an unnecessary stumbling block for evangelism. She also warned us against using words like sin and church, since they might intimidate our “seeker” and thus terminate the conversation prematurely.

In the weeks to follow, each of my challenges to this humanistic approach was either marginalized or censured, and it was clear that my professor was unhappy with my alternative perspective. I even received a zero on an essay recounting my personal testimony! When asked about the grade, my professor informed me that my testimony had included too much theological material and overemphasized the faithful instruction of my parents. She wanted me to rewrite the account, replacing my theological confession with a “Damascus Road” crisis account.

Unfortunately, things weren’t much better in my other classes. In Cultural Anthropology, for instance, the professor instructed us to be more culturally open-minded toward pagan totem poles. According to her, they were not necessarily idols, since many of the natives who “admired” them were simply revering moral virtues by associating them with animals. She suggested that when evangelizing pagan natives, missionaries should feel free to use these images in order to further “contextualize” their presentation of Christian virtues. When I politely raised the issue of the second commandment, the professor insinuated that the appreciation of certain aspects of these pagan practices allowed Christians to free themselves from the bondage of Western prejudice.

In addition, few of my professors appreciated my sincere efforts to counter the school’s delinquent worldview by circulating solid Reformed literature and engaging in dialogues with my fellow students. The result was a widening gap between the theological and philosophical truths I was beginning to embrace and the dispensational, quasi-arminian pietism that dominated a majority of our chapel services and most of my classes.

In Christianity and Western Culture, my professor attacked Christian Reconstruction by name, claiming that it was essentially a fascist movement that desired to enforce Christian values and subject children to religious tyranny. Conversely, he suggested that Christians should advocate the current socio-political norm of pluralism. When I raised my hand and humbly suggested that the current imposition of humanistic religion through state-controlled education was equally tyrannical, I was met with cold opposition.

Over the next few months, I yearned for the ability to examine and develop a consistently Reformed Christian worldview. After a long, arduous search, I came across Christ College in Lynchburg, Virginia. I was won over by the breadth of the academic curriculum as well as the impressive faculty list. I jumped at the chance to learn politics and history from Kevin Clauson and Roger Schultz, both of whom are department chairmen at Liberty University and experienced Presbyterian elders. On top of that, Christ College had recently added noted presuppositionalist Michael Butler as a full-time philosophy instructor and arranged for routine modular courses with distinguished author Kenneth Gentry. No longer would I be forced to learn history, politics, theology, and philosophy from an essentially humanistic perspective. Needless to say, my decision to transfer was not a difficult one.

Throughout the last of my two years at Moody, I found much-needed encouragement at the Church of Christian Liberty, where I was faithfully instructed and nurtured by several churchmen and their families. Their willingness to answer my questions and provide me with helpful Reformed literature allowed me to nurture my newfound theological convictions with the stellar writings of Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Gentry, DeMar, and others. During that final year, I was able to help organize a debate on Moody campus between Gary DeMar and an MBI Bible professor on the nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. At the debate, Christian Liberty Press set up a discounted book table and affordably distributed a slew of postmillennial and theonomic titles to MBI students. The result was encouraging, as issues such as covenant theology, gospel prosperity, and theonomic civil ethics began permeating classroom dialogue.

Reconstruction fever so swept over the school that a new interpretation of the doctrinal standards was advanced. Under the new interpretation, postmillennial students were prohibited from graduating, since postmillennialism denies the “immanency of Christ’s return.” Ultimately, a handful of my classmates decided to move to Lynchburg with me and attend Christ College.

In the months following the Moody exodus, friends and family have occasionally questioned the wisdom of my decision to transfer from a well-known Christian college to one that is small and unaccredited. This approach, however, misses the point entirely. Instead, we should be asking the following questions: Why is it that the only consistently Biblical colleges and seminaries in existence today are obscure and small? and Why is it necessary for a college to receive a stamp of approval from a secular or humanistic Christian organization? After all, such institutions (educational and ecclesiastical) typically oppose the Christian Reformation for which we so earnestly labor. True accreditation must be Biblical and confessional, stemming from an adherence to sound Biblical teaching rather than political pandering and impersonal bureaucracy.

Over the past hundred and fifty years, humanism has progressively infiltrated and captured numerous one-time-Christian universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, and others. The ultimate downfall of these schools has been compromise. Concerning this phenomenon, historian Daniel Boorstin wrote, “To make their colleges appeal to everybody, to people who believe anything or nothing, the denominations themselves became powerful breeders of ‘Nothingarianism,’ which some observers said was the truly dominant American sect.”

In order to reestablish our lost cultural influence, we must refuse to trade principles for popularity; we must refuse to compromise. Rather than valuing the accreditation of man and the state, Christians should insist on conformity to confessional standards and submission to church authority. Christ College, along with several other likeminded institutions, has boldly taken this stance. The road may be difficult, but the destination remains a constant. Now just a semester away from graduation at Christ College, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t dream of attending anywhere else.

  • Adam Kuehner

Adam Kuehner is a graduate of Christ College, where he studied church history and homiletics under Dr. Roger Schultz.  He is a member of Triangle Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA).  He may be contacted at [email protected]

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