Fundamentalists will tell you that where you go to college will be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Of course, other people outside of fundyland may say the same sort of thing but what they mean by it is rarely the same. For in fundamentalism your choice of a college determines your fundy pedigree, you opportunities for employment within fundamentalism, and often the caliber of fundy that your spouse is likely to be as well. For example, there are Hyles men and PCC men and Bob Jones men and rarely the three will meet (except in the occasional conference). Choose wisely.
And it’s no wonder that the various graduates of the big (a very relative term) Fundy U schools (an even more relative term) don’t generally associate with each other. The education received at a Fundy U could more accurately be called “indoctrination.” For if a strong voice speaks with apparently authority for long enough it will eventually be accepted as the voice of truth. The trick to getting students to listen is three-fold:
1) Isolate. Get them away from everything else so they can only hear you. Tell them that their college has more authority in their lives than any other person. Make them depend on you for the totality of their social existence, their physical needs, and spiritual nourishment and then…
2) Condition. Create a Pavlovian response to specific verbal stimuli. When someone say “KJV” everybody cheers. When someone says “NIV” everybody boos and jeers. Then do the same with terms like “liberal” and “biblical” and “compromiser.” Make the instruction exist on a level well away from rational thought and then…
3) Reinforce. Now that you’ve got them conditioned to agree with every word that comes out of your mouth, simply use that power to reinforce your dominance at every turn. Use praise and ridicule. Use demerits and compliments. Use the ever present threat of failure and the ever present promise of someday being “one of us” to mold and shape people into your own image.
And once the Fundy U has filled its students heads with dogma and filled their hearts with a lust for the praise of men then it releases them into the world where they will spend most of their time trying to avoid actually having to defend their indefensible ideas. In each Fundy U this dogma also has just enough variety to keep the fundies at odds with each other. Trust me, you don’t want to be around KJV-Only people if you’re only a TR-Only guy and being a Ok-with-the-”critical”-text-sometimes guy would be very awkward indeed. It’s better to stay with your own kind.
To be fair, the worst of the indoctrination practices are often reserved for those in ministerial classes but with daily chapel, mandatory church, required Bible classes, and non-optional prayer group it’s all but impossible to graduate with any sort of degree completely unscathed. And it has been my experience that if a person does not begin to put up a mental resistance to the onslaught of indoctrination by the time they reach their Junior year, that their trip out of fundyland will likely be delayed by at least a long, painful decade or two.
It would seem the education at Fundy U would oftentimes seem more at home in a reeducation camp than an actual institution of higher learning.