Perhaps we who are followers of Jesus Christ need to be reminded from time to time that the term “gospel” in the Bible translates the Greek word euangellion. The root of the word is the verb angelizo, from which we get the word “angel.” It means “to announce” or “to proclaim.” The prefix –eu on a word meant “good.” So the Greek word euangellionmeans “good announcement” or “good news.” The message of Christ is good news, the best news ever announced. It is such good news that we don’t need to become anxious or fearful over the bad news that is inevitable in a broken world like ours. Because of the good news, because our God is sovereign, we have cause to live confidently, peacefully and joyfully. In short, we don’t need to be continually disturbed by bad news.
All of that to say that the good news I encountered had to do with the effect of going to college on Christian young people. We have all heard the reports of young Christians going off to college and losing their faith. We’ve heard the statistics of Christian young people abandoning faith ad nauseum. However, that trend appears to be changing. In a recent issue of Review of Higher Education, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith revealed that recent surveys of college students show that 2.7 times more of them report their religious beliefs have strengthened during college than say their faith has weakened.
The report went on to say that a clearly perceptible change in the impact of attending college on one’s faith began in the 1990’s. Social scientists “have found that the religiously undermining effect of higher education…has disappeared.” There are several factors in this apparent shift, but Professor Smith identified one of the most interesting. He said there has been a change in our culture from a secular to a post-secular society. Secular assumptions, he says, are no longer taken for granted, but are questioned, and religion is increasingly considered to be a legitimate topic of discussion.
There will still be Christian young people who lose their faith when they go to college. But this news seems to me to be encouraging. It tells us this may not be as common in the years to come as it has been recently. This is far from sending us all into spasms of joy because a revival has started in our nation, but it is reason to be glad. And of course in the end we rejoice because our hope is in our Lord, whose victory is already accomplished. All in all, this is good news.