JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 5, 2001 – Union University, the oldest Southern Baptist university in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently received the rare endorsement of Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson as one of the few universities in America “bringing faith from a Christian perspective and integrating it with learning.”
“That’s a cliché that a lot of people use but Union is really doing it right across disciplinary lines, showing how Christian truth is at the root of all knowledge and all learning,” said Colson. “I’m impressed as well with what Union is doing in promoting the Biblical worldview, and an understanding of all of life under the Lordship of Christ.”
Colson said he is deeply impressed with what God is doing at Union and considers it “one of the outstanding universities in America today.”
“We are certainly honored by Dr. Colson’s affirmation of what God is doing on the Union University campus,” said Union University President David S. Dockery. “His emphasis on helping men and women shape and live out a full-orbed Christian worldview is consistent with our underpinning philosophy for Christian higher education.”
In his recent convocation address to the university, Dockery maintained that one of the primary goals Union has at its core of a Christian liberal arts education is the development of a coherent Christian worldview.
“The reality is that everyone has some kind of a worldview, though not everyone has a coherent worldview… A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression – it’s an all consuming way of life.”
That does not mean Union should be content to display its Christian foundations with only chapel services and required Bible classes, or to disengage from the world around them, said Dockery.
“We must bring students to a mature reflection of what the Christian faith means for every field of study. In doing so, we can help develop a grace-filled convictional community of learning.”
It is that grace-filled community of learning that Union administration, faculty, staff and students are pursuing with a passion, said Todd Brady, minister to the university, giving as an example, the philosophy behind Union’s Campus Ministries.
“We have a different approach than a lot of other Christian colleges,” admitted Brady. “Our desire is to partner with the other members and departments of the university. Ministry is not something that only the Office of Campus Ministries does at Union, it’s something that we all do together.”
Brady explained that at Union, there is not one specific organization of ministry that a student belongs to – rather his office acts as a facilitator in the lives of all students. By partnering with staff and faculty, the university as a whole is responsible for encouraging each student in their individual walks with God.
“Our staff and faculty, especially, seem to have such a desire to get involved with students not just in the classroom, but outside of it and in the community,” said Kevin Ward, a senior from Plant City, Fla. “They’re not just professors, they’re people who are really making a difference in the lives of others, and part of what Union is all about is staying people-focused – and that’s what’s happening – you can see it all over campus.”
“Union University serves the church and society because we believe that God is sovereign over church and society and that Christians belong to both spheres,” said Dockery. “We are not called to rule over the world, at least in this age, but to relate to it and seek to influence it for good within the framework of a Christian worldview.
“As a result, we can and should gladly encourage students to pursue any and all morally upright secular vocations, if indeed that is their calling from God – not as a second-rate vocation – but as a work where they can serve God and others.”
Dockery said that this could only happen not by escaping culture or identifying with it, but by engaging it through Christian thinking and Christ-like service – “with the goal of transforming it ultimately for God’s glory.”
Sara B. Horn,