Christian universities are multiplying worldwide and represent a new stage in the development of Christianity in the Third World, writes Joel Carpenter in the Lutheran magazine The Cresset (Trinity, 2004).
He writes that in the three years he has been researching the rise of the new Christian universities in Latin America, Africa and Asia, their numbers have only increased. For instance in 2001, Carpenter noted six new evangelical universities in Central America. But in a visit to Costa Rica in March, he found out there are now a half-dozen such universities in San Jose alone. “Every month I learn of more such endeavors, from Malawi to Haiti to Irian Papua.”
Carpenter points out that these endeavors are far from modest. Handong Global University in South Korea plans to become an “evangelical MIT,” assembling a strong Korean faculty on a gleaming new campus with about 3000 high-achieving students. The university is also replicating itself in two other Asian sites, Uzbekistan and Manchuria.
These schools, as well as global Christianity itself, may grow most rapidly among those whom sociologist David Martin calls the “aspiring poor,” as a university education and a job become worthy Christian aspirations. Already, these universities are taking on issues of social action and responsibility. Carpenter concludes that the founding of these universities may mark a new stage in the development of nonwestern Christianity.
“With revival fires no longer flaring and in need of some tending, institutions or `fireplaces’ are being built. There is a rising generation to equip, and a surrounding society in which to minister for the longer term.”
(The Cresset, Huegli Hall, Valparaiso University, 1409 Chapel Drive, Valparaiso, IN 46383)