Four Characteristics that Make a Christian College Unique

January 1, 1970

A Christian college is an institution that integrates the mind and the heart, seeking Jesus as Lord of both. As such, it seeks both academic rigor and deep discipleship, together forming the character of the students, faculty and staff. While each school has a distinct way of putting this into practice, there are four main distinctive commitments of a Christian college: to the Bible, to worship, to hospitality, and to fearlessness.

A Christian College is Biblical

The Bible is God’s Word and His gift to His people. It reminds us that our loving Father created us with dignity and purpose. It tells us about God’s Son, Jesus, and lets us see the heart of the Father through His life, death and resurrection. The Bible reminds us that we have the Holy Spirit living within and among us, pointing us back to Jesus with clarity and into the future with hope and divine power. It gives us reliable guidance on how to live, and shows us right from wrong. At Houghton, the Bible is at the center of our curriculum and our communal life of worship, prayer and study.

A Christian College Worships

While we share a core of Christian orthodoxy, we realize there are limits to being a community of shared belief. Since no two people can agree on everything, it’s not just belief that holds us together: worship does too. Encountering God regularly, in the context of worship and Christian community, helps us to grow into the unity he desires for us. A.W. Tozer said, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.” When we go to God together in worship, we find ourselves growing closer together because our hearts and minds are being shaped.

A Christian College Is a Welcoming Place

Most of our students are Christian and find a Christian college to be an environment where they can thrive. They know that their values will be respected and encouraged. But Christian colleges are not only for Christian students. At a Christian college, Christian faculty and staff seek to serve all students with compassion and care, believing that it is part of our calling to show Christ’s love to the whole world.

A Christian College Is Fearless

At a Christian college, the quest to become healthy and mature Christians is tied to the life of the mind. As we grow in the faith, carving out regular times of prayer, fellowship and worship, we discover our security in Christ. We also learn deep in our hearts that we do not have to fear, because God is with us.

When we know this, we can go into the classroom without fear and look at the deep questions of life honestly and bravely. When we face these questions without fear, we can discover answers from God and live those answers out faithfully and completely. We can allow God to renew our minds, which often means to change our minds. In this way, we are empowered to question the easy answers our culture gives us. We can only do this, though, when we are fearless; and we are fearless when we know that God is with us.

So we prioritize a life of discipleship that helps us to know that in Christ, God is revealed as Emmanuel—God with us. This rigorous life of mind and heart helps students set a healthy course for their whole lives: well prepared for a first job, but also with the personal, spiritual and technical skills needed to navigate a complicated and changing job market which needs courageous and competent leaders.