Arizona Christian University – Taking Biblical Worldview Education to the Next Level
Contributing Author: President Len Munsil, Arizona Christian University (ACU)
The sense that something has gone deeply wrong with our country and our world is no longer confined to a handful of skeptics and pessimists. Apocalyptic films and sensational news headlines have been everywhere for the last decade. Economic uncertainty, international wars and civic unrest dominated news reports in recent years, leading to widespread unease and fearfulness about the future.
And then 2020 happened.
All of the existing unease accelerated with the arrival of a global pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Vast and widespread job losses and economic uncertainty resulted. The pandemic response, combined with increased political polarization and unsettling street violence, created a level of volatility and uncertainty unseen in more than a half-century. Civic unrest began with legitimate grievances and peaceful protests against racial injustice. This was quickly sidetracked into a sometimes violent assault on the very foundations of Western civilization.
Decades of secularization in our culture—due to the steady removal of a biblical worldview from every area of cultural influence, especially popular entertainment and our educational system—left Americans largely defenseless against these rapid and frightening developments. With no historical context, and no relationship with God to turn to for comfort and peace, many Americans retreated into fear, anxiety, panic and depression. Suicide, drug overdose, alcoholism, and domestic abuse—all of these increased and are warning signs of a decaying culture with no answers to the trials of life.
For Christ followers in America, it has felt like we’ve been on a long losing streak, helplessly watching this steady erosion of biblical truth’s influence in our culture. And so many responses to the decay and decline have seemed defensive in nature, trying to just hang on, to hold the line against further decline. Some Christian leaders have even proposed retreating into modern monasteries until the danger is past.
But nowhere in Scripture do we find any suggestion that retreat and withdrawal are an appropriate response to opposition and spiritual darkness. Instead, we are told—“in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”—to shine as “lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). We believe it is time for followers of Jesus to go back on offense, go into all the world, and be courageously Christian in a hostile culture.
A necessary part of our engagement with the world is to build institutions of Christian influence that will last for generations, producing dedicated Christ followers who can bring the healing and hope of the gospel into every area of influence in our culture. In the same way that forces of secularization strategically gained influence in our culture over decades, we need to “play the long game” and build institutions that will bring glory to God by reclaiming education based on biblical truth. Trinity Christian School and Arizona Christian University are here for such a time as this.
At ACU, we hope to inspire tomorrow’s leaders to stand boldly for the things of God, and return biblical values and faith in Christ to the center of culture as they move into positions of influence in society. One of the primary ways we are doing that is through our CORE Christian Liberal Arts curriculum.
ACU’s CORE curriculum is unique within American higher education and seeks to reclaim the liberal arts for the Christian tradition. Led by our faculty, students consider and discuss the great ideas of human history within the biblical worldview framework and use this rich understanding of the human experience to transform culture with the truth of God. Through the CORE our students gain a solid understanding of who they are and what God has called them to do and be. Two first-year courses introduce students to the ACU community and provide biblical worldview training. Students take a series of humanities courses during their sophomore and junior years. These courses span human history, from the dawn of time through today. Students read and discuss original texts to consider how human beings in other times and cultures understood their world and answered the big questions of life—about God, about what it means to be human, about purpose and meaning, about truth, beauty, justice and goodness. In addition, every ACU student receives a Biblical Studies minor with18 credit hours, making ACU unique in the way it integrates the study of the classics with biblical truth.
This is so needed today. Last year ACU launched the Cultural Research Center, with the world’s foremost Christian researcher Dr. George Barna joining ACU faculty as the Director of Research. Dr. Barna’s American Worldview Inventory shows that only two percent of 18-29-year-old Americans hold a biblical worldview, and only six percent of all Americans think and live biblically.
In addition to providing national data regarding biblical worldview, Dr. Barna is assessing all ACU students when they arrive, at the end of each year, and when they graduate using the ACU Student Worldview Inventory. These anonymous survey results from ACU students will enable us to document that—unlike most universities in America (even some Christian universities) that undermine or attack Christian faith commitment—our students will be growing in their biblical worldview while at ACU. With the results we will be able to continuously improve our curriculum, spiritual formation requirements and community life to build our students’ faith in Christ.
Already we are seeing the results of this CORE curriculum, and our commitment to moral and educational excellence is being recognized. For the fourth straight year, ACU is a U.S. News & World Report “Best College” in the 15-state Western region. Further, U.S. News & World Report chose ACU as the No. 1 Undergraduate Teaching Institution in the West!
As the number of young people who embrace a truthful, biblical understanding of the world has declined, it is more vital than ever that schools like Trinity and ACU prepare young Christians who are able to forcefully, confidently and courageously defend the truth of the gospel among a rising generation, to paraphrase Judges 2:10, that doesn’t know God or what He has done for us.
Len Munsil has been President of Arizona Christian University since 2010. Under his tenure, ACU has clarified its conservative Christian mission, tripled enrollment to more than 1,000 students, received regional and national recognition for academic excellence and in 2019 moved to a miracle new campus with triple the academic space, classrooms, parking, residence hall rooms and other amenities. He was the 2006 Republican nominee for Governor of Arizona and founding President of Center for Arizona Policy. He and his wife, Dr. Tracy Munsil, have eight adult children and 10 grandchildren (and counting).