I have served in Tennessee twice in my lifetime. I have been in the state for one month shy of 7 years this time. In both instances Carson Newman has been a part of my service. Members children and adults who graduated from CN - now Carson Newman University (CNU) have been in my churches. In both terms of service, I have had staff members who either attended or graduated from CNU. And now, I have staff members children who attend and have graduated. And beyond that, my oldest son is a student at CNU!
In understanding what I am about to say one needs to know that I am a Liberty University graduate. It is hard to mix the blood line of Liberty and CNU. I resisted it for months. They are not as close as Apples and Oranges by any stretch of the imagination. A few have often said that I cannot cooperate with those who theologically believe different. And once again reality is about set the record straight. For my oldest son is now a Junior at CNU. There was no way we could afford to send him to Liberty or Truett McConnell (my two choices). Neither was in Gods plan. But CNU was. The first two years of his education are behind him and they have been beneficial. He also serves as a Resident Assistant (was named RA of the Year for this school year) and works in Resident Life. He is a Religion major and making dad and mom very happy with his GPA and progress. In fact, I am the first to admit that I am more than pleased with the educational value and environment of CNU.
The following are simple observations from a dads perspective of two years of CNU interaction, who happens to be a staunch conservative Pastor, in light of some of the dart throwers of today:
1. CNU is a typical college campus with typical college life issues. It is not a Convent and no one should expect such at any of the Baptist related schools of today.
2. CNU has a mix of theological slants. I have not seen much liberalism in my sons classes. I have seen little compared to what I prepared him for.
3. CNU is not changing the Gospel nor watering It down.
4. There is a freedom to challenge the professors in theological discussions and that freedom is encouraged.
5. CNU may be slanted somewhat less than conservative yet conservative is not berated nor excluded. My son often wears Liberty and Truett McConnell shirts to class just to highlight his position (he has fun like his dad).
6. CNU challenges students to dig into their Bibles for answers. My son is an apologetic s nut. CNU has NOT changed his conservative theology nor has it altered it. And he loves the interaction with the professors in debating the different topics. His positions and stance on doctrine have not been weakened.
7. CNU is preparing my son for ministry and doing a great job of it. Reading some blogs recently one might question whether CNU is Baptist enough or Bible enough. As a parent, I can tell you that the times of questions and concerns have been few.
8. CNU has their own confession. So what? Only one college in the whole of SBC landscape has professors that 100% have affirmed and signed the BFM2000. Only one! That would be Truett McConnell in Georgia. Anyone griping about CNU or Campbellsville might want to take this truth to heart before raising this issue.
9. CNU leaders are the real deal in caring for and interacting with students. I have been thrilled at the authenticity of the professors with the students. They care and take time to get to know the students. They interact well. Case in point, a professor not as conservative as my son recommended my son for a staff position at a conservative church. Those of the Calvinist/reform beliefs should take notes on that one. CNU is not out to change my son. They are developing him as college should.
As shocking as it is for some to read this, I cannot find much fault with CNU. It was not where God had me attend. I can tell you that it is the place that God directed and has blessed my son to attend. Key in this discussion is the simple fact that my son started learning the Bible when he was little. He grew into an avid reader of apologetic s and theology. He was solid before he arrived on campus. CNU did not change him in this area and that speaks volumes to me about where CNU is on the Baptist/Theological landscape. He is still a solid conservative. And he is a conservative that knows how to use his learning tools to defend his beliefs and discuss them in intelligent and compelling conversation. I encourage you to listen to his latest sermon, preached at our church last year when I was preaching out of state.
Be careful in what you read and hear about a few colleges in SBC life. There is always a motivation and slant. I know these exist for what is written of late is little on fact. I know this because I have a religion major enrolled at CNU and what he is getting does not match what is written.