aberrations and catching them

How well – and how quickly – would your students be able to spot a cult on campus? What about something that isn’t unorthodox, but a ministry or teaching that doesn’t line up with the distinctives of your particular denomination?

Obviously, the former case is more important than the latter. But this question is more about assessing the work of a college ministry than even safeguarding students. Have you presented doctrine clearly enough that aberrations would be noticed?

I once saw a young adult minister purposely spend 30 minutes teaching false doctrine, just to see who might call him on it. I don’t know if I’m in favor of that experimental approach, but it did stick with me all these years. And the point was a good one: Many Christians (even well past their college years) aren’t clear enough, confident enough, or concerned enough to have a mental “check” when doctrine is off… let alone actually challenge it.

Your students are likely to face aberrant teaching somewhere, somehow on campus – even if it’s just through small talk in the dorm. (But let’s not discount the reality of full-blown, highly attractive weirdness.) And then your students will face another juncture when they leave school and choose a new church. What does it say about your ministry if your students feel quite comfortable in a new church that’s quite doctrinally different than what you’ve (supposedly) been teaching? (Do you know what churches your graduates from a year ago have landed in?)

This isn’t a call for disunity – part of teaching doctrine is teaching “primary” versus “secondary” and “tertiary” doctrines. But it is a call to make sure college students are being successfully entrusted with doctrine, and a good opportunity to evaluate a college ministry along those lines.

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