The Challenge of University Evangelism

Tim Keller and Michael Keller | June 20, 2017

A biography of John Stott shows that the large numbers of conversions British university missionaries saw in the 1940s and 1950s diminished markedly in the 1960s and thereafter. After World War II, the secularism that largely had been confined to European intellectual elites for 200 years finally broke out into the population at large, especially among the college-educated. Its components included the sexual revolution, as well as various liberation movements that stressed the autonomy of the individual. The Marxist critique of social power captured the imaginations of many students.

Religion in general and Christianity in particular were implicated by their involvement in historic, unjust social structures. Religion was seen to be an obstruction to human progress and scientific discovery. In more recent decades, especially in Europe and Britain, religion has appeared more and more to be simply irrelevant to leading a good life and making a better world. Nonetheless, Christian student movements continued to grow and even flourish in various parts of the Western world up to the end of the 20th century.

Some believe, however, that the university may be entering a new era of opposition to student ministry, and particularly to evangelism. When weighing what seems to be the…

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