The modern higher education system is broken. Modern education is hostile to faith, too expensive, and academically weak. We need nothing short of a revolution. In this presentation, Brother Finny Kuruvilla discusses how Sattler College was founded upon the biblical vision of Christian discipleship that addresses the mind, soul, and heart. The mission of Sattler College is to provide an education that instructs the mind, discipleship that shapes the soul, and inspiration that inflames the heart. The goal is to enable graduates to heartily say, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Learn more at www.sattlercollege.org.
Well, greetings everyone. I’m here to give an introduction to Sattler College and what we have going. We’re very excited about it. A lot of people have asked the question. Why a new college? What is the motivation to do this? Why now?
And I want to give a little bit of intro to explain this properly by first defining something called a “Vicious Cycle.” I don’t know how many of you know this term of vicious cycle, but I’ve copied a definition here from a dictionary. It says:
a repeating situation or condition in which one problem causes another problem that makes the first problem worse.
This is what a vicious cycle is. So I’ll give you an example of a vicious cycle here. This is very common where a person gains weight and what happens is because they gain weight now there’s more fat tissue around their nasopharyngeal area and when they lay down and sleep they start to snore and that can obstruct their airways gives them less oxygen, gives them poor quality sleep, which makes them tired and inactive, which makes them gain more weight, which then causes their airways to narrow further, and around and round it goes. And there’s a lot of people – millions of people who suffer from this.
There’s many examples of vicious cycles that if we thought about we could name. Another very common one is people getting homeless. They get depressed. And so they drink. They drink too much. They lose their job, their family. They get more depressed, they drink more, and around and around it goes.
The reason I’m talking about this is first to illustrate something about, I think, a very powerful analogy about reproduction. So, reproduction is a very powerful barometer to health, in the sense that all of your organ systems have to be functioning. Any woman who has given labor, who has had a child, knows that you’re engaging with your circulatory system, your endocrine system. Everything is changing and working in order to reproduce.
Now why am I saying this? Where are we today? It is a fair statement to say that conservative Anabaptist churches face a crisis of infertility. Very few people are succeeding at evangelizing and discipling people from the outside. Not talking about shuffling and moving around from one Mennonite church to another church, but real outsiders coming in, there’s a true crisis.
And if this is the case, if we can use this analogy, if there is a married couple and they are infertile, that’s the cause for alarm. That causes them to go to the doctor. If everybody here was a married couple, and all of a sudden nobody could make babies anymore, we’d be going to the doctor, we’d be checking the water, we’d be looking at food. What food are we eating? What in the world’s going wrong? The crisis, if it happened in us, in our cities and our towns. But I would make the case that with even greater urgency spiritual infertility should be cause for alarm. We should be saying “Whoa, what’s wrong? What is wrong that we’re not having spiritual children, so to speak?” and crying out to God.
There’s a person named Dawson Trotman, founder with The Navigators, he’s got – I could give a whole sermon about this – about why there’s infertility, lack of union, like a closeness with God, disease or immaturity. Children can’t bear children for good reason, and I think that all three of these play a role of why we are in the crisis that we are in today.
But I am troubled that more people aren’t troubled. I don’t know if this bothers you, but I want to just like scream and pull my hair and say, like “What is going on? This is not good. This is not healthy.” People have come to believe that infertility is normal, and that’s not good. We would never do that with our own biological homes. The spiritual pattern of Acts is brushed aside. People say, “Oh, that was just for that period,” or some kind of excuse like that, and unbelief takes root.
This decreases the investment in evangelism and discipleship, making the problem worse. So, this is a classic vicious cycle. This is why I talk about vicious cycles. So up on the top-right “Ineffective evangelism with little fruit, people are disappointed, they rationalize, and there’s a judgmental spirit leading to unbelief, and a lack of effort or passion, which leads to an untrained and less diverse group. If you have an untrained less diverse group, you have ineffective evangelism, with little fruit.” And around and around the cycle goes. This has been spinning now for several generations.
I’ve taught for a couple of years at a Bible school called Soldiers of the Cross. Actually a bunch of you are here from that; Bill Shiley is one of the organizers. And I asked a question a couple of years ago, and I put down almost verbatim here the question that the students answered. I see ten or so students who were at Soldiers of the Cross from 2016. So, “Why so little multicultural evangelism?”
Here’s what they said, our own children:
- fear of bad influence
- fear of intermarriage
- we think our culture is the best
- our churches are in rural locations, far from most of the open people
- we don’t know the Bible well
- inconsistent ourselves and don’t correct those problems
- lack of interest in other cultures
- don’t want to tangle with others’ problems
- we have a lot more culture than we know, so people don’t feel at home.
- we’re taught to be the quiet of the land
- defensive mentality
So this is what, again, young people today who are sitting in this room are saying. These are the answers that they are offering.
I want to elaborate on a couple of these before jumping into Sattler College and why I think we’ve got a great solution to this. One of the things that some people do is they say, “Oh, I’m going to leave the country. I want to be a missionary in some faraway place.” And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I’m a missionary’s son myself. I spent a lot of my youth going back and forth between here and India. But I would make the case that one should be careful not to export our problems to other countries, and that we need to make sure that we have something here that’s healthy and sustainable and reproducible.
I highly encourage everybody who is thinking about going overseas to ask one question first: “Are there three people around that I can point to today that I personally have evangelized and discipled in the US before I’m going to make some move far away?” I will make a statement that I have never seen a successful person abroad who has not established this quality first at home.
And so a lot of people just they go really quickly, and they haven’t actually fixed these problems internally. We should follow the “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, ends of the earth” model.
And this takes a lot of work. It’s a huge amount of work, as well as preparing for your vocation, to gain the skills to be a literate, competent Christian. Now, how is your knowledge of the basics? This is a quiz I gave at Soldiers of the Cross two years ago, I think it was. I’ve given this literally to thousands of people all over the world, Protestants and Anabaptists, India and America, and we won’t go through it in much detail, but I’ll just ask you this – I’ll show you the questions that I asked:
- What is the theme of the book of Judges? I see Caleb smiling ‘cause I think he remembers it.
- What is the relationship between the persons of Jeremiah and Ezekiel? Did they know each other? Was one before the other?
- What is the main message of the book of Haggai? I asked normally people to write out a one-line answer to each of these questions.
- Who prophesied that Jesus was to come to Jerusalem on a donkey?
- What prophet and what king successfully repelled Assyria after it conquered Israel?
- How many returns were there from captivity, and who were the leaders?
- How many nations are described in the table of nations in Genesis? And what is the significance?
- What prophecy does Daniel recall that inspires his famous prayer and angelic visitation?
- What happened in Ephesus versus Galatia that made their letters so different?
- What city was the launch point of all three of Paul’s missionary journeys?
So, I’ve given this quiz to, like I said – it’s in the thousands of people all over – and I consider these to be all very basic, just like, “Who’s Jeremiah and Ezekiel?” and most people in our settings, as well as Anabaptists say, “I’ve heard of them. I know they’re in the Bible, but I can’t tell you exactly who they are, how they connect. Haggai, I know it’s there, but not sure what. Paul, I know he went on his missionary journeys; I don’t know exactly what the significance was of the cities. And Ephesus versus Galatia, I know there’s the book of Ephesians and the book of Galatians,” but on the whole most people will get between one and two right. I usually score competency around seven or eight, but most people today who are raised in plain settings do very poorly on this.
I was surprised when I came in because I thought that people here would be just like “Bible!” – like knowing it forwards and backwards, and what I found was that most people have a very Sunday School, sort of childish understanding of the Scriptures, and they haven’t even learned how to put it together in ways that are meaningful.
Now when I was in college – this is an island called Catalina Island. I went to college in California, and we were invited to go to this island to study the Bible for eight hours a day, for five days, and to study just eight chapters, it was the first eight chapters of the book of Mark. And I remember thinking: eight times five is forty hours. We’re going to do a Bible study for forty hours on eight chapters of the book of Mark. And I said, “We’re going to run out of time. This is going to be a pretty boring study. It’s hard for me to fathom what we’re going to do.” I went, and I left the week thinking, “We just scratched the surface.” I didn’t even know how to study the Bible when I started college. I did by the time I was done. I actually went back two more times because I realized I had to get even more out of it there, and to learn how to actually engage in Scripture is a skill that you have to be taught and modeled and really learned, and I have been shaped in ways that I can’t even begin to enumerate because I’ve learned from other people about how to actually get into the Word, and how to had I let that form you. Most people I think don’t have those skills.
So now let’s talk about Sattler College and a little bit about who are. So we are a brand new, nonprofit college. We are approved by Massachusetts in December of 2016. It took about two and a half years of work. It was a lot of work to get it approved. But we finally got it over the finish line. We are authorized to give the bachelor’s degree in a four-year program.
Named after Michael Sattler. Hopefully all of you know who Michael Sattler is, the Anabaptist martyr. We have a great spot in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. We’re signing the lease on it probably in two weeks.
And I’m going to answer right now the most common objection. So many people from plain people. There’s actually two objections that I get, but I’ll give you the most common one first. The most common objection I get is this: “College and universities have historically become liberal. They aren’t safe places.” They will say, “Oh, look at Goshen College, look at this place or that place. They all started well, but then they’ve all become liberal. So, we’re not going to touch it. We’re not going to go near that.”
The answer that I always give to this question is: “If you use that logic, then we should not go to church, either, because churches over the course of history have this tendency to go a liberal, and pretty much everybody goes in that way. And so if we’re consistent in that logic, we should say that whole thing, that whole church concept is a bad idea. We shouldn’t go near it. Let’s just withdraw.” Now we don’t do that. What we say is “We’re going to try to do church better, and we’re going to try to stay faithful.” And so this is not, in my opinion, a great argument.
The other one that people give is people will say, “Oh, we don’t believe in education.” That’s actually a tremendous flip-flop, a tremendous reversal from the historic early Anabaptist. Many of you know Conrad Grebel, the early Anabaptist was renowned in the world as a Greek scholar. He was regarded after Erasmus is being one of the best Greek scholars alive. Menno Simons knew Latin and Greek. The early church, people like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, very well-educated people that formed many of the churches that we are a part of.
The distinctives of our College are what we call the “Three C’s.” So the first C is Cost. Because we’ve been able to do this with a clean sheet of paper, we’re 80% less tuition than the average private school in America, the average private college.
We have the premier Core Curriculum in the country to equip Christians with an emphasis on logical thinking, and compelling communication skills. You know, David Bercot just alluded to this, but this was something that just bothered me so much. I have been in many, many plain churches. I’ve heard hundreds of hours of preaching, and I have to say the quality generally of the preaching is way lower than it is in Protestant Evangelical settings by a lot. And it’s heartbreaking for me that people who should have the truth and be capable at explaining that aren’t better at it.
And then finally the third C is Christian discipleship. All students are required to do a four-year discipleship program. We could spend a lot of time talking about this. We don’t have time to do that. It’s based on small group mentorship, and there’s so many opportunities for practical service like evangelism. I tell people: every week during the school year, I have like twenty or thirty opportunities to do evangelism with people, and I just don’t have the time. There’s like, I have more opportunities than I can possibly invest myself in.
Working with refugees and immigrants: Marlin Weaver is over here somewhere who has been saying – we teach an English class there – we have more people now than we have the ability to teach. Pregnancy crisis centers, tutoring, I will show you a list twenty items long if you want to see it about things you can do.
During the senior year, all students have to do either a thesis doing a service project in the developing world, or writing a business plan.
Here’s our Core Curriculum. You have to do expository writing, history one and a half years, Greek and Hebrew each for a year if you show proficiency in both. We are the only college in America that require this. Interestingly, in the original colleges of America, every college had this requirement. So, every single college in the beginning of America you had to show proficiency in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Today there are zero, except for us, that are going to be there again. You might say that sounds hard and difficult. It’s work, but it’s not rocket science. Anybody who has a desire can do that, and I firmly believe that anybody who’s is a Kingdom Christian should be committed to learn the Bible as well as possible, because we are in a battle for the hearts and minds of souls.
Apologetics Old Testament, New Testament.
Statistics and Data Science. I could spend a whole hour on this one. I am convinced. I’m a physician, many of you know that. I get more people who come to me with these cockamamie ideas about health and nutrition and medicine, and most of these people if you ask them, “Have you read the papers? Can you tell me about the P value or the chi-square test?” They don’t have an idea about how to evaluate one treatment versus another treatment. And so, there’s all this snake oil business that happens here, because we haven’t been trained properly and evaluating data.
Global poverty and world change.
We have five majors that were offering initially. Human biology. So, if anyone wants to do pre-med or work in biology or chemistry, something like that. Business, computer science, history and then Biblical and religious studies.
So if you’re interested, if you are a hardworking person and passionate about making disciples, consider this. We’re going to be opening up in the fall of 2018. We’re taking applications starting in just a couple weeks. Will be due by the end of the year. And because we want a great group of students, were actually going to be offering one year of free tuition for the first group of students. So, it’s a pretty nice offer there.
We’re on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a mailing list. If you’re not on our mailing list, you should try to hear about what we’re doing. There’s all kinds of more things I would love to tell you about, but in the interest of time we can’t. Fred, who’s over here standing up, you can just give your name and email address to him, and he’ll put you on our mailing list. And we do have a website, www.sattlercollege.org.
I want to just close with the “Virtuous Cycle.” So a virtuous cycle is a chain of events in which one desirable occurrence leads to another, which further promotes the first occurrence and so on, resulting in a continuous process of improvement. So, the classic example is an economy that gets strong, leading to a surge in home purchases, which leads to more construction, which strengthens the economy further, and around and around it goes.
It doesn’t have to be a vicious cycle. It can be a virtuous cycle. It can work in the positive. And the vision that I want to lay out to you here is effective evangelism with fruit, excitement and love for new converts, more faith in God and greater investment into evangelism and discipleship making, which leads to a group with diverse people being added to their number, and around and around it can go in the positive direction.
So, we are at a moment of incredible opportunity for those who are interested to not just follow in the same patterns, and unfortunately have been worn. And if you’re interested, I think Sattler College is an excellent, excellent opportunity for that. David Bercot, who you just heard is on the board, few others here. It’s going to be an amazing opportunity. So with that I will close.