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Home School U

James Joyner has opened the proverbial can of worms in relation to a Northern Virginia college (Patrick Henry College) that caters to home schooled students. In clarifying his position he reopens the debate.

As a graduate of a Catholic university I was curious to see how the Christian charter of PHC differed from traditional Catholic universities.

I went to my alma matter, University of San Diego, to see how they define the relationship between The Catholic Church and the Univerity:

Academic freedom requires that the governance of a Catholic university remain autonomous so that the institution may function effectively. As part of this fundamental commitment to academic freedom there is a responsibility to recognize that the University of San Diego is a Catholic university committed therefore to Catholic principles and values. This places no obligation on faculty, administration, or staff members with regard to their personal beliefs or religious practices, nor does it prevent the statement of personal views which may differ from those held by the Catholic Church. All are, however, in their capacity as University employees, expected to respect Catholicism, just as the University respects the religious traditions, the freedom of conscience, and the religious liberty of each member of its academic community.

As is true of most Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, the University of San Diego campus community includes many administrators, faculty, and staff from varied religious traditions. Catholics and non-Catholics alike have made and continue to make significant and valuable contributions to fostering the identity and mission of the University. Those members of the academic community whose traditions are rooted in the Book of Mormon, Qur'an, New Testament and/or the Hebrew Scriptures, find areas of emphasis which are familiar to them and with which they agree. Moreover, those who profess other religions or no particular faith also have found areas of agreement. Experience has shown that in a Catholic university people can share educational ideals and values without necessarily sharing religious beliefs. What the University of San Diego seeks in faculty, administrators, and staff who form its academic community is that all bear the professional responsibility to recognize and respect its Catholic identity, and to understand and foster its mission and goals.

Compare that to Patrick Henry University:
The College is, and shall always remain, a Christian institution dedicated to bringing honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ in all of its activities. Each Trustee, officer, faculty member and student of the College, as well as such other employees and agents of the College as may be specified by resolution of the Board of Trustees, shall fully and enthusiastically subscribe to the following Statement of Faith:
  • There is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
  • Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God come in the flesh.
  • The Bible in its entirety (all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original autographs, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living.
  • Man is by nature sinful and is inherently in need of salvation, which is exclusively found by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His shed blood.
  • Christ's death provides substitutionary atonement for our sins.
  • Personal salvation comes to mankind by grace through faith.
  • Jesus Christ literally rose bodily from the dead.
  • Jesus Christ literally will come to earth again in the Second Advent.
  • Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity.
Apparently there's no room for diversity of though or belief at PHC. It's hardly surprising then that creationism is taught as science...
Creation. Any biology, Bible or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creation from the understanding of Scripture that God's creative work, as described in Genesis 1:1-31, was completed in six twenty-four hour days. All faculty for such courses will be chosen on the basis of their personal adherence to this view. PHC expects its faculty in these courses, as in all courses, to expose students to alternate theories and the data, if any, which support those theories. In this context, PHC in particular expects its biology faculty to provide a full exposition of the claims of the theory of Darwinian evolution, intelligent design and other major theories while, in the end, teach creation as both biblically true and as the best fit to observed data.
Update: Pietro takes me to task for intolerance. While I'll cop to snarkieness (and perhaps a level of insensitivity to the goals of PHC) I will not cop to atheisism or agnosticism. PHC is probably not unique among religious universities in it's principles, and if that's the education you're looking for more power to you. My opinion is that a diverse religious education is best obtained when all religions are studied and questioned. But you know what they say about opinions....


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Comments (8)

It's interesting that the "... (Below threshold)
Jalal Abu Jarhead:

It's interesting that the "Biblical inerrancy" crowd and the creationists (generally the same group of people, anyway) don't allow for the human writers of the Bible to use metaphors. Or, by extension, don't allow God to inspire the human authors to use metaphors. But parables are okay. Hmm...

My favorite example of their lack of understanding is the meaning of "40" in the Middle East, both then and now. Folks in Biblical times weren't all that interested in numerical accuracy, so when there were "a lot" of something, they say "40." You know, as in "forty days and forty nights" of the flood. Or Jesus wandering in the wilderness for forty days. And other examples.

The big mistake they make is that there's no room for interpretation. They're ignoring the fact that they are interpreting the Bible already. What they really object to is an interpretation that's different than their own.

Clinging to the idea of creation of the world in six 24-hour days just astounds me. God performed sudden, miraculous acts "way back then," but He's gotten out of that business lately, preferring to work through the Laws of Nature that He created. God forbid (sorry for the pun) that He should be consistent in His works.

Oh, and this comes from the son of a retired Southern Baptist minister who is a big Biblical inerrancy proponent, and the brother of a former Southern Baptist missionary, now pastor of a church in Texas.

What's wrong with a small, ... (Below threshold)

What's wrong with a small, private college catering to a specific student group? Those student choose to go to that college, no? I don't understand why people have any problem with a private school's charter. If you don't like it, then don't go there. Seems pretty simple.

And, Jalal, 40 days/nights was how long it rained. The flood lasted for the better part of a year. I just did a study about Noah and the flood and I was surprised at the misconceptions I had about the flood account, even as a Christian who grew up in church all my life.

I actually have judged a co... (Below threshold)

I actually have judged a couple of moot court competitions in which students from Patrick Henry University were involved and from my observations, the students are very well educated and all are on the top of their game. I, personally, am not that big of a fan of home schooling or of schools that are centered around religion. However, I am impressed with everyone I have met that is associated with Patrick Henry University. Whatever those people are doing, they are producing some finest students I have ever seen from the dozen or so that I observed in the competitions. Several other schools did well, also, with the exceptional student coming forth here and there, but the teams from Patrick Henry displayed exceptional abilities in every single individual. I was thoroughly impressed with their program.

And, Jalal, 40 days/nigh... (Below threshold)
Jalal Abu Jarhead:

And, Jalal, 40 days/nights was how long it rained.

That's my point, Jen. We don't really know (or for my part, really care) exactly how many days it rained. This phrase was and is a Middle Eastern way of saying, "It rained for a really, really, really long time."

If you read an Arabic-language (or Persian-language, or probably a few others) newspaper published in the Middle East, you'll notice that many things are reported in quantities of 40. They're just saying, "There are a lot of them, but we can't be bothered to count them exactly, or believe it's necessary to the import of the story."

Regardless, my point was that reading the Bible requires interpretation. A philosophy that rejects interpretation of written works, even the Bible, defies reality, and puts those who believe that they're not interpreting the Bible in jeopardy of being very, very wrong.

"teach creation as both ... (Below threshold)

"teach creation as both biblically true and as the best fit to observed data"

Well, I guess getting it 50% correct is better than 0% (at least for values of "biblically true" != "actually true").

Jalal, believe me, we agree... (Below threshold)

Jalal, believe me, we agree more than we disagree about biblical interpretation. =)

Patrick Henry College journ... (Below threshold)

Patrick Henry College journalism students have their own blog, if you're interested.

Sorry, try it <a href="http... (Below threshold)

Sorry, try it now.






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