Campus Gods on Trial (1953)

Chad Walsh

Presbyterian theologian's modest attempt to correct the damage done to students on college campuses in relation to God.  According to Walsh, most kids (circa 1950) grow up either with the "fiery furnace" or "lukewarm bath" approach to religion (i.e. "burn in hell" or "take it or leave it").  Thus, when they get to college, the social cocoon offered by the Greek system allows them to experiment with drinking, petting, and general "carousing" (a great word, that) because they have a sanctioned place to "rebel" with little to no consequences.  College students are also confronted with the horrors of relativism, a point Walsh drives home by describing seven different professors from seven different disciplines explaining the causes of warfare.  The "Campus Gods" on trial here are various "isms:"  scientism, relativism, communism, etc.  Throughout the study, Walsh offers the transcribed comments of college students expressing their skepticism about Christianity and does his best to refute what he can.  When challenged by one student, for example, over the Christian claim that all Buddhists will burn in hell even if they've never heard of Christ, Walsh agrees that seems pretty unreasonable.  He then argues that Christ can enter the heart of even a Buddhist in His own way and thus "save" the exotic and far-flung.  But this opens Walsh to another question:  then why should anyone take it upon him or herself to evangelize for Christ anywhere?  Walsh likens this to having penicillin yet withholding it from someone with a bad infection (like Buddhism).  Yes, they might "recover" on their own, but it would be sinful to deny them access to the medication.  And so on.

Walsh acknowledges also that many universities do have "Religious Studies" departments, but argues these are usually staffed by secularists in disguise who do little to address the spiritual concerns of college youth in crisis.

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