A man holding the Holy Bible in his hands

What It Means To Be Unapologetically Christian

Dr. Donald W. Sweeting is chancellor of Colorado Christian University.

Unapologetically Christian — that's what we aim to be at Colorado Christian University, that's one thing that sets us apart from other universities and colleges.

Other schools may be distancing themselves from Christian distinctives, or apologizing for their Christian heritage. We don't. We are leaning into it.

But before explaining what I mean by this tagline, let me tell you what I don't mean by the words "unapologetically Christian."

What I don't mean

I don't mean arrogantly Christian. That is, I do not wish to imply that we are always right, or that we know it all. In fact, no sane Christian would say that we do. We are quick to confess that we are finite and we serve an infinite God who, though he has revealed himself, is still much greater than we can comprehend, and life is more mysterious than we can fully understand.

Also, I don't mean narrowly Christian. CCU teaches students to think. We want them to engage in rigorous study and ask hard questions. We want them to examine other views, even as we robustly teach from a Christ-centered perspective. We love science, philosophy, debate, learning, and the life of the mind.

Nor do I mean uncaringly Christian. We are compelled by Christ to love our neighbors and respect all people because they are made in the image of God. We teach our students the importance of what I call "convictional civility." We have friendships with people of other faiths and no faith. We are devoted to the common good. We aim to produce good citizens.

Finally, by "unapologetically Christian" I do not mean perfectly Christian. We are far from it. We are sinners who need a savior and who want to follow faithfully after Christ. But we don't do it like we hope to. We aspire to be a Christian university, but we have not arrived.

What I do mean

If that is what I don't mean by the phrase "unapologetically Christian," then what do I mean by it?

First, I mean that we have a conviction to follow Christ. Our beliefs matter to us. They matter because we believe they are true.

Education for us is about more than just competence and critical thinking.

Consequently, we think it is important to talk about certain topics that have been excised from schools — such as wisdom, truth, virtue, character, the meaning of life and the importance of religious faith.

As convictional Christians, we are historically Christian. That means we stand within the great tradition that gave rise to the university movement in the West.

As evangelicals, we revere the Bible, not only as the central text of Western civilization, but as God's Word. We affirm Christ to be, not just a great teacher, but the savior of the world.

By the way, every school is driven by some faith. These days it is often a secular faith — it could be faith in technology, or scientific naturalism, or business, or even a nihilistic faith. We just happen to believe that the Christian faith provides a better foundation for a life of learning in a way that addresses the whole person and the world as it actually exists.

Our faith is central to who we are. It is not incidental. We are not Christian in name only. Rather we are a religious school with a strong educational mission.

When others tell us to put our faith aside, be they secular accreditors or politicians, we can't. We refuse to subordinate our faith to ideologies, be they of the far left or the far right. If political leaders tell us to "move on from it," or "get over it," or to change our core beliefs about Jesus Christ or God's created order; why, that would be to deny the motivation that brought us into existence in the first place.

Second, by "unapologetically Christian," I mean that we try to live and practice our faith as a community. We have community standards that flow from our religious identity. Ultimately we are called to follow Christ and live in faithful obedience to his Word. This will not always make sense to outsiders, but it too is a part of historic Christianity. Our faith not only involves beliefs, but a way of life. In the New Testament, there are expectations of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Finally, by "unapologetically Christian" I wish to highlight that we passionately believe that Christ is the source of life — the Bible describes him as the living water, the bread of life, the light of the world, the living Word, the way, the truth, and the life. We have found this to be true.

CCU and its heritage schools were born out of this faith. So were many of America's colleges and universities. They were born out of, not just a faith impulse, but a specifically Christian vision. That's true of America's first university, and most Ivy League schools. It is also true of the earliest Western universities. In this respect, CCU is not unusual, just part of a long, great tradition.

What is unique about CCU is that we still acknowledge it — unapologetically. And we believe that there is abundant life here, not just for us, but for all who look to Jesus Christ.


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