In the weeks and months leading up to our freshman’s college drop-off, we parents are in a peculiar place: there’s so much we want to say, so little time to say it, and we’re all too aware that our kids aren’t going to listen right now anyway. For parents it’s a time of emotional indigestion, with all those words of wisdom stuck in your gut.
Thankfully, in his new book, Dr. Michael Kruger says some of these essential things for us.
Dr. Kruger wrote Surviving Religion 101: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping the Faith in College as a series of letters to his daughter, Emma, as she embarked on her college career at UNC Chapel Hill. Drawing from his own experience as a Christian student whose worldview was challenged by a persuasive atheistic professor, Kruger understands the complex challenges college students face. He tackles tough issues with grace, compassion, and unwavering commitment to biblical truth. He writes as a dad who loves his daughter dearly, as a committed Christian who has wrestled personally with all these issues, and as a prominent biblical scholar.
Recognizing that many (most?) college campuses are hostile to the Christian faith, Kruger encourages his daughter not to shy away from the hard questions, but rather to engage in study and thoughtful conversation. The following chapter titles give you an idea of the range he covers:
Science Seems Like It Can Explain Everything in the Universe – Do We Really Need to Believe in God?
My Christian Morals Are Viewed as Hateful and Intolerant – Shouldn’t I Be More Loving and Accepting?
Some Parts of the Bible Seem Morally Troubling – How Can a Book Be From God If It Advocates Oppression or Genocide?
In response to the “intellectual minefield” of contemporary university life, Kruger meets his readers with sound theology and skillful counsel. Addressing each question, he outlines what a student might hear from a professor or her peers and demonstrates what a biblical response would sound like. He dignifies both the intellect of his Christian reader and of her opposition with logic and careful exposition. Best of all, the book outlines the gospel over and over again, so that if the reader has not yet received a solid foundation in apologetics, this book will lay that groundwork.
Because Kruger is writing as a father, he writes with affection and compassion for what his daughter will experience as a Christian on a secular campus. He assures Emma that although opposition may sometimes feel personal, “the real objection… is about Jesus. Everything comes down to what people think about him, not what they think about us” (p.55). Though he is a biblical scholar, Kruger’s style and tone are accessible to new Christians and even seekers.
Surviving Religion 101 will make a great gift for the graduate in your life, but it would also make a good read for parents and children to work through together during senior year, or a parent-child book club. Most moms and dads don’t have seminary degrees, so Kruger’s straightforward style will also help parents struggling to provide solid answers to their teens. Youth ministers might develop lessons for senior small groups based on the questions each chapter poses. in other words – there are many ways this book can be helpful to teenagers and the adults who love them.
In writing Surviving Religion 101, Kruger provides “an intellectual pathway for Christian students so that they can keep their faith without sacrificing their intellectual integrity”(p. 24). This book will be a tremendous resource for college students to have on their bookshelves when pressing questions challenge their faith and stretch their understanding. Above all, Kruger’s hope for his children is what we want for our own. He dedicates the book to Emma, but also to his two younger children, John and Kate, saying, “May this book help you keep your lights shining brightly not only in college but for your entire life.”
Shine on, graduates!