Turning Classroom Opposition into Opportunity
by Jayme Durant *
“Let your speech always be with grace…that you may know how you ought to answer.” (Colossians 4:6)
One of my daughter’s required courses in college was philosophy. Early in the semester, the professor opened the class by reading some Bible verses and then asking the students to raise their hands if they believed what he just read. My daughter was one of a very few with an upraised hand. She happened to be sitting in the first row that morning.
The professor looked at her and said, “Well you want to know what I think about that?” He took a few quick steps, slammed his hands on her desk, and leaned in a few inches from her face. His face was red and spit flew as he yelled, “I think that’s a mean-spirited God, and anyone who believes that must be a mean-spirited person!”
My daughter heard audible gasps throughout the classroom as she sat, composed and calm, but saying nothing in return. Afterwards, other students came up to her in the hallway, telling her they couldn’t believe the teacher had acted that way and that they admired the way she handled it.
As the semester progressed, my daughter found her professor more approachable when she asked genuine questions about his lectures. Even though she was well aware of his hostility to Christianity, she participated respectfully and confidently in the class discussions, with the professor calling on her frequently. At one point, he even let her read all of Romans 7-8 aloud during class, verse by verse. Students often approached her after class with questions about what she believed, saying they appreciated her questions and statements in class and that she obviously had confidence in her beliefs.
As a parent of four kids who have attended college and have encountered their share of challenges to their faith, I appreciate the words of wisdom Dr. Henry Morris III offers in his feature article, “Creation and College” (pages 5-7). He says, “The most productive process for maintaining a solid Christian witness and an open confession of biblical truth in an educational setting is often to simply ask questions.” His classroom guidelines will help any student facing a hostile academic environment.'
If you have students in your life—or you are a student—other ICR resources can help you prepare for the classroom. Pick up copies of Guide to Creation Basics, The Global Flood, Clearly Seen, and The Book of Beginnings to build confidence in what you believe. Dr. Jason Lisle’s books The Ultimate Proof of Creation and Discerning Truth will further equip you with tools to respond to opposition in the classroom (visit www.icr.org).
As my daughter neared the end of her undergraduate degree program, she began preparing her graduate school applications. She approached a number of professors for letters of recommendations. I watched her lay out the paperwork for several different graduate schools in neat stacks across our dining room table, and at the top of each stack was a glowing recommendation from her former philosophy professor. It doesn’t always turn out that way, but in this one case, she discovered that asking questions respectfully unlocked doors of opportunities.
* Jayme Durant is Executive Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Durant, J. 2013. Turning Classroom Opposition into Opportunity. Acts & Facts. 42 (8): 4.