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A Heart for Truth: Taking Your Faith to College Paperback – August, 1992
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Students in their first year at college need to know how to maintain an odjective perspective, how to avoid considerable pain, and how to mature in their faith.
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First Spencer urges young people to examine their motives for attending college. Those who see a college degree as a "ticket to a job," thinking education is merely a means to an end, find general education courses a waste of time and devise ingenious ways to slide through college as painlessly as possible. Rightly pursued, however, a college education is its own end! Learning is intrinsically worthwhile, and studying is a way of loving God with our minds. So Spencer challenges his readers to cultivate, as the book's title suggests, "a heart for truth." One of the truths to be discovered is truth concerning one's self. Sadly enough, one UCLA researcher says: "'The saddest thing of all is that they don't have the quest to understand things, especially to understand themselves'" (p. 68). A Christian with a heart for truth, however, has the marvelous opportunity to discover his divine design, to glimpse in her image something of the Creator's likeness.
Given the fact that we're flawed by sin, we naturally find it difficult to love ourselves once we discover and admit) who we are! Rather than trot in the humanistic gospel of self-esteem, however, Spencer urges readers to humbly confess their sins and discover thereby the Grace of God which enables us to love Him and others as He intends. Love, for collegians, leads to involvement with the opposite sex. Since a sociological study reveals that collegians list "a poor decision about sex" at the top of their regrets (p. 126), Spencer devotes several helpful chapters to this subject, detailing the perennial truthfulness of the Christian call to chastity and marital fidelity.
After exposing the shallowness of many secular prescriptions, which glibly celebrate the pleasures of fornication, the author quotes a passage from Mike Mason's The Mystery of Marriage to justify his judgment that sex is something sacred: "'Exposure of the body in a personal encounter is like the telling of one's deepest secret: afterwards there is no going back, no pretending that the secret is still one's own or that the other does not know. It is, in effect, the very last step in human relations, and therefore never one to be taken lightly. . . . . As a gesture symbolic of perfect trust and surrender, it requires the security of the most perfect of reassurances and commitments into which two people can enter, which is no other than the loving contract of marriage'" (p. 126). To avoid some of the temptations leading to pre-marital intercourse, Spencer urges us to replace "dating" with "courting," refusing to pair off and get physical until some very serious, marriage-oriented, verbal commitments have been made. (I'm not sure this argument can be won, but it's an intriguing proposition!)
Finally, Spencer turns his attention to the intellectual challenges of college. Thinking is difficult, and we tend to avoid difficult tasks. Thinking christianly is even more difficult, in some ways, because we must exercise both faith and reason. Here he cites a statement by Charles Malik, a philosopher and former ambassador to the United Nations from Lebanon, who declared that "'the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking'" (p. 160).
Our college years should be devoted to sharpening and enlarging our mental powers. Such is our calling! Focused on college freshmen, this book is well-written and would help for young people in the transition from home to college.