This is the second in a short series of reruns of old columns which I wrote many years ago, as the fictional Professor Theophilus, in an online magazine for Christian college students.  Several people have been kind enough to say that my Ask Theophilus columns kept them sane in those days.



I'm a freshman in college at a university run by [a certain Christian denomination], but I really don't like it.  The longer I'm here, the more I feel like I'm getting theology shoved down my throat.  I'm not really in college with any particular goals in mind: I'm kind of just here because I'm not sure what else to do.  So does it make sense to leave?  I think the college experience has benefited me, but I find myself becoming more and more resentful of the “Christian” part of it.  I have to take many more ministry-theology classes as a part of my general requirements, and I'm really not interested.  I really need advice:  I don't want to make a decision I'm going to regret, especially considering the investment.



The question you need to ask yourself is why you resent “the Christian part of it.” No, I'm not scolding you.  Your reasons for resenting the theology requirements may be either good or bad, but you have to find out what they are.  Here are some of the possibilities:

1.  The real problem is although you recognize the value of college, you're just not ready for college right now, and the theology requirements are an easy target for your resentment about everything in general.

2.  The real problem is that you prefer a shallow faith, and you resent the theology courses because they urge you to cast your net in deeper waters.

3.  The real problem is that although you do want a deeper faith, you resent the theology courses for pushing you faster than you can go.

4.  The real problem is that something is wrong with the theology taught in those courses.  It doesn't answer your questions, or it answers them poorly, or it just doesn't have the aroma of Christ.

5.  The real problem is that your theology courses are designed for people who are going into church-related professions, and that's just not your calling.

Don't answer quickly.  Take all the time that you need.  Think; ponder; pray.  You need to be sure of your answer. 

If the answer is number 1, drop out of college for awhile.  Get a job, work hard, be responsible, save money.  If you live at home, pay room and board.  After a few years, think about college again.  You may feel different than you do now. 

If the answer is number 2, try to understand why you don't want to cast your net in deeper waters.  That's like preferring less life to more life.  Perhaps there is a professor or counselor at the college you could talk to about this. 

If the answer is number 3, I suggest that you change schools -- not to one that doesn't push you spiritually (because we all need that kind of push), but to one that pushes at a pace you can keep up with. 

If the answer is number 4, you should probably consider not just a different school, but a school that teaches a different theology.  Notice that I said “consider”; I'm not telling you to do it.  By all means hold onto Christ, but seek a place where you can find all of His truth. 

If the answer is number 5, look for a university where the theology requirements are geared to people more like you -- people who are serious about their faith, but not called to professions in the church. 

Probably, possibly, if!  I hope you weren't looking for a simple answer, because I haven't given you one.  But maybe I've steered you to the right questions.