This book can be purchased directly from the Author: Click Here



 Copyright by Jed Smock 1985

Used by Permission

Confrontational Evangelism on Campus


Chapter 10



"Why do you preach on college campuses everyday? Are we the only sinners?" a student once asked.

"No, but tomorrow you may be the INFLUENTIAL sinners unless I cam persuade you to become INFLUENTIAL saints!" I reply.

The center of influence in Jesus' day was the synagogue. That is where you found our Lord much of the time. I am convinced that if the Son of God had come to the United States in the twentieth century, rather than Israel in the first century, he would have gone to the campuses. THE UNIVERSITIES CONTROL THE MIND OF AMERICA.

As go the campuses so goes the nation. The college students are tomorrow's politicians, lawyers, doctors. educators, bureaucrats, journalists, businessmen and corporation leaders. If there is going to be a national awakening, this is the stratum of society that must be reached. The hippie radical movement started at Berkeley and spread like wildfire to the other campuses. The same could happen today with a movement of the Spirit of God among the students.

Collegians are at a crucial age. During these years they are making choices that will determine the direction of their lives. They are away from home for the first time. They are idealistic--still questioning and looking for answers to the issues of life. Their hearts are relatively tender.

The universities are communities within themselves. some have over 50,000 students, and also the professors, administrators and staff. Yet, local churches and campus ministries have failed miserably to reach them. It will be a terrible day at judgment when believers realize that the blood of multitudes of college students will be on their hands because they did not "rise up for God against the evildoers, and stand with him against the workers of iniquity." They have refused to warn the wicked to turn from their wickedness and live.

The Failure of the Church World

The local churches are family-oriented institutions and,therefore, the typical pastor does not include the students in his vision. He does not see how they can be much help in building a great church. Many pastors are intimidated by students, wrongly considering them to be intellectuals. Some feel they don't have the education or the knowledge to deal with them.

The churches are spending millions of dollars to take the Gospel to the nations of the world but they are ignoring the thousands of foreign students in their own back yards. On campus, we regularly preach to students from the four corners of the earth. Many who hear us are from nations that are virtually closed to missionaries.

In 1983 we met a man at the University of Louisville. He was from Saudi Arabia and had been in America for only three weeks. Although raised a Moslem, he said he desired to read the Bible and become a Christian. But he feared that if he converted he would be killed when he returned home. After instructing him in the Word we introduced the young Arab to a believer who invited him to a Bible study for further instruction.

A group of Iranian Moslem students at the University of Illinois told Brother Lynch and me that we are very well known in their country. Iranians on campuses all over the United States have heard us and returned to their own nation to talk of our preaching.

The conservative campus ministries which claim to be evangelical are usually weak and socially oriented. They have built "Christian centers" with pool and ping pong tables that emphasize recreation and fellowship, not the Gospel, worship, and service to God. Students connected with these ministries are usually vexed and intimidated by the filthy conduct of the student body. These "Christians" are preoccupied with humanistic studies and their social lives to the point that they have stripped themselves of any power with God or man. With their lukewarm version of Christianity and ignorance of Biblical doctrine and sound Theology, these "evangelicals" are often the GREATEST HINDRANCE to the spread of the Gospel on campus.

The liberals have united to build centers that usually go under the banner of the United Campus Ministry. They often are hotbeds of homosexuals, lesbians, socialists, women libbers, abortionists and their sympathizers. We are a thorn in the flesh to these ecumenicals who view us with ridicule and contempt. Even though they bear the name of Christ, the liberals will go to great lengths to disassociate themselves from us.

At a Big Ten university a local church invited me to speak for three evening services. The meetings were scheduled at the Wesley Foundation, an ecumenical building just off campus. After we advertised the services in the school newspaper, the foundation called the church pastor on the carpet. When he defended my Gospel preaching, a Wesley Foundation minister cursed: "*!!**!#, I don't believe what he is preaching is the Gospel!" He also wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper denouncing my preaching. This ecumenicalist had suddenly become unecumenical.

The Campus Pulpit

Before the era of shopping malls the downtown square was an ideal place for reaching people. Preachers could gather great crowds by preaching in towns and cities throughout America. Today, however, the downtowns are deserted and the streets and sidewalks of major cities are too congested with automobiles and pedestrians in a hurry to do business. City ordinances often unconstitutionally prohibit street preaching without a permit, which is often difficult to obtain.

The campuses are a more secluded environment which have lawns, malls and patios providing natural places for students to gather between classes. There is no street and traffic noise to hinder the message from being heard. Most universities have a free speech policy and tradition. Actually, it would be more accurate to call us campus preachers rather than street preachers.

Street ministers have the disadvantage of attempting to witness to people that are often under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Their minds are preoccupied with the immediate satisfactions of the lusts of the flesh. We preach during the day when the students are still sober. They have been exercising their intellects in the classrooms and are often anxious to engage in discussion. We introduce contemporary issues in a biblical context. We present the opposite of what they have heard in the humanistic classrooms. Argument and debate result and it draws a larger crowd. Sparks fly for awhile but when he students calm down we are able to teach effectively. This is important since few students have heard the biblical doctrines accurately presented and defended. It has not always been this way.

Consider the Paths of Our Fathers

In the stone gateway to Ohio University, founded in 1804, is engraved this quotation from the Congressional Ordinance of 1787: "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." Obviously, our Founding Fathers never intended to separate religion and morality from education. They recognized that religion, morality and knowledge were the fundamentals of education, good government and a happy people.

In fact, America's most prestigious universities, Harvard, William and Mary, Yale and Princeton were founded to prepare men for the clergy. The Bible was the chief text and theology was the main course of study. The charter of William and Mary, written in 1693, states the college was founded "to the end that the church of Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the gospel, and that the youth may be piously educated in good letters and manners, and that the Christian faith may be propagated among the Western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God."

In colonial America, religion was the major influence on student life. Each college required daily chapel and prayer, Sunday church attendance and divinity studies. Student conduct was closely regulated according to the moral precepts of Christianity. For example, the first code of Harvard laws in 1646 provided the following: "Everyone shall consider the main end of his life and studies, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life. Seeing the Lord giveth wisdom, everyone shall seriously, by prayer in secret, seek wisdom of Him. Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the scriptures twice a day that they may be ready to give an account of their proficiency therein . . ."

This emphasis was not limited to the colleges founded by church denominations. The 1785 charter of the University of Georgia said that in order to promote national prosperity one of the institution's first objectives would be to encourage and support the principles of Christianity and morality and to provide the instruction that would mold the students to the love of virtue and good order. To accomplish this, the ninth law of the charter required that all professors and administrators be of the Christian religion, and take a public oath of allegiance and fidelity.

Through the nineteenth century practically all institutions of higher learning had compulsory daily chapel services for faculty and students.

"We all attended chapel in those days (1890), and took turns in conducting the exercises; each took his turn in reading an appropriate selection from the Bible and elucidating its religious and ethical meaning," said Dr. Barton W. Everman of Indiana State University.

Even so, there was a constant battle throughout the nineteenth century between the religious and the secular sectors on campuses. Sporadic revivals helped Christianity maintain eminence during this time. However, in the twentieth century the majority of colleges began to develop a vast extra-curricular program making it difficult for religious organizations to compete successfully with intercollegiate athletics, the social programs of fraternities and sororities and other secular student groups. Finally, in the 1920's the state universities wielded the death blow to organized religion by making chapel attendance optional. Consequently, by the end of the 1930's, chapel instruction virtually died and today is nonexistent. Theology, once considered the queen of the sciences, lost academic respectability.

Although the state universities led the way in secularism, the church-founded institutions were not far behind in ousting Christianity. Today I find more believers on the state campuses than at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oberlin and other church-related institutions.

The Spirit of Finney Returns

Charles Finney, America's greatest theologian and evangelist, was president of Oberlin College in Ohio during the mid-nineteenth century. I desired to preach at Oberlin because it had been a great evangelical institution and the heart of the revivals of that period. In the Spring of 1978 the Lord directed me to go there.

After I preached only five minutes campus security stopped me and suggested I get permission from the administration to continue.

I was directed to the chaplain's office. He sat at his desk wearing a T-shirt, bermuda shorts and shower tongs and smoking a cigarette. He constantly made reference to God in the female gender. Reluctantly he decided, "She (meaning God to him) would not mind if I spoke at Oberlin."

At sometime during the day almost every student in the college must have listened. However, not one would acknowledge the Bible to be the Word of God. After seven and a half hours, I closed the meeting. Later the chaplain said to me, "We have never had anything like this at Oberlin. I listened to you all afternoon. I will have to admit that you really had something going out there today. Of course, I don't agree with your theology at all."

Not only did the chaplain and the whole campus oppose me, but they showed their gross ignorance of Oberlin's evangelical and revivalist heritage and Charles Finney's ministry and theology. To them Finney is just the name of the chapel where they hold their rock concerts.


The men who founded Oberlin College, John Shipherd and Philo Stewart, knelt under an elm tree in 1832 to pray for God's blessing on their endeavor. The elm stood until l965. A retired botanist, George Jones, claims that it died "branch by branch." About the same time the elm was cut down the Graduate School of Theology was closed. Also they started serving beer in the student union, despite the fact that Oberlin had once been at the forefront of the temperance movement. These sad developments must have been the death blow to the old elm. Today a flagpole at Tappan Square's southeast corner marks the location of Oberlin's historic elm.

Could this elm live again? Annually since my first encounter at Oberlin I have returned to sow seeds of Truth. One year a group of boys and girls came out in trench coats. I thought this was strange since it was a warm day with no sign of rain. Suddenly the students opened their coats, exposing their nakedness, and they began to dance. After several moments they ran back to their dorms.

In the Fall of l990 I decided to make a concentrated effort at Oberlin. I proposed to teach a course in Biblical Morality at the Experimental College of Oberlin (ExCO) and presented my syllabus to the committee heading the institution which stated that the aim of the course was to provide students with "a firm understanding of Biblical principles of rectitude...and their application to current moral, political, economic and social issues."

According to an article in the Oberlin Review, the ExCo Committee was apprehensive about approving my class. Shirley Lincicum, a member of the committee, said, "We had no choice other than to let him teach. Our fears and concerns did not outweigh our feeling that we shouldn't censor his views."

Only five students signed up for the course, but once a week I made the four and one-half hour round trip drive to attempt to resurrect the old elm. I could not continue for another semester and maintain my national ministry, but our team of campus evangelists still makes several trips annually to plant and water and continue to pray under the old elm.

Regrettably, Oberlin is typical of the institutions that were founded as Christian colleges but in the 20th century began to die branch by branch until by the l960's virtually all of them were dead.

They Hated Knowledge

"When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Who CHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD INTO A LIE, and worshipped and served the creature more then the Creator, who is blessed forever" (Romans 1:21,22-25).

The universities have exchanged the truth of God our Creator for the lies of Charles Darwin and the evolutionists!

They have exchanged the truth of Jesus Christ our Redeemer for the lies of Marx and Engles who would enslave man!

They have exchanged the truth of God, our great teacher, for the lies of John Dewey, Sigmund Freud and many other "foolosophers!"

They have exchanged the truth of Christian theology for the vain imaginations of the secular humanists.

Christian theology is the thoughts and principles of God. Humanism is the thoughts and principles of man. Theology is knowledge centered on the Creator. Humanism is knowledge centered on the creature. According to Webster's New Collegiate dictionary, knowledge "is a clear perception of the truth." It is impossible for man to have a clear understanding of truth without sound theology. Therefore, a rejection of theology is in effect a rejection of knowledge. The Bible says: "And unto man God said, `Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding'" (Job 28:28).

The University of Minnesota was founded in 1851. The following inscription is engraved in stone on the front of Northrop Memorial Auditorium: "The University of Minnesota founded in faith that men are ennobled by understanding, dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for the truth, devoted to instruction of the youth and the welfare of the state." This statement of purpose is pretentious and secular in comparison to the godly and ethical emphasis at the establishment of Ohio University, the University of Georgia and the colonial colleges.

The University of Minnesota is searching for the truth. The Bible speaks of men "ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:17). Thousands of Minnesota students pass Northrop Auditorium each day going to classes seeking after knowledge.

Annually, since 1974, I have stood in front of the auditorium with Bible raised and cried out to the passing students, "I've found it, I found it. I found it. Stop searching, I FOUND IT," I cry out.

Soon a crowd gathers, wondering what I had found.

"I found the TRUTH!"

"Jesus said, 'I am the Truth.' He is the source of truth for all who diligently seek it," I tell them.

University of Minnesota students and professors have supposedly been searching for the truth for about 150 years. But they rejected the teacher of truth and, as the angel said to Mary, they blindly sought the living among the dead. Their search for truth among the lies proved futile, so today they have come to the conclusion that there are no absolutes.

In l987 Allan Bloom introduced his bestseller, The Closing of the American Mind with the statement, "There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative."

The relativist believes that truth varies from individual to individual, from group to group, or from time to time, having no objective standard.

Although religious teaching waned throughout the twentieth century, universities still attempted to enforce moral behavior with restrictive rules and regulations, especially on the women. For example, into the mid-sixties dorm curfews were placed on the girls and visitation of the opposite sex in private rooms was strictly forbidden. But the attempt to promote virtue was doomed to failure because the foundation of morality--the Christian religion--had been rejected. It is impossible to establish Christian ethics in the heart of man without Jesus Christ. Without the truths and promises of Christianity, the motives and incentives for being moral are lost.

The most frightening and anti-intellectual development on the campus in the eighties was the imposition of politically correct thinking. Being politically correct means deciding issues on the basis of membership in a particular group or adherence to a particular idealogy, not on the foundation of evidence, merits or morality. Opposition to the special privileges which are created for favored groups in the name of equal rights is treated as hateful attitude toward the group. The one who doesn't bow to the politically correct gods are labeled as"racist," "sexist" or "homophobe."

Those who are guilty of these ideological crimes are subjected to "re-education" programs. A fraternity at the University of Vermont which withdrew an invitation to pledge a boy when they learned that he was a homosexual had to attend workshops and lectures defending homosexuality as an alternative life style. Those accused of racism or sexism also may be required to attend lectures or worshops to correct their thinking or behavior. These terms are very loosely defined. Anyone who opposed affirmative action programs might be accused of racism. An individual who holds to traditional views on the role of women might be charged with sexism.

By rejecting the Bible the universities spurned the epistemological reference point needed to differentiate fact from fallacy and proof from propaganda. Contempory academics have no dearth of opinions, but lack knowledge and wisdom. They have thinking confused with feeling. You often hear these so called students say, "I feel," but rarely "I know," or "I think," or even more uncommon is "I conclude." They are unable to define terms, analyze arguments, or know the difference between influences and causations. They disdained the one book that unites races, ages, ethnic groups, and economic classes into a common purpose.

Blind modern educators and their blind disciples have dismissed the book that has inspired more scholarship than any book ever written. They hate the book that defines and limits and guarantees our rights and promotes the greatest well-being of all men. Indeed the Bible has historically been the foundation of the liberal arts.

Rat Lab

As a freshman at Indiana University in 1960 I was on a liberal arts curriculum and we were required to take five hours of psychology. I will never forget my first day in Psychology 101 lab. Each member of the class was assigned a white rat in a cage with a bag of rat food.

"Is this what higher education is all about, studying the behavior of rats?" I thought to myself.

We made stimulus-response-type experiments through feeding and withholding food from the rats and observing their behavior. After a few days in class I figured out what it was all about. My professor came from the behaviorist school of psychology. His mentor was B.F. Skinner who denied man is a free moral agent. The behaviorists believe that man is conditioned to act in a certain manner by his environment. FROM OUR STUDY OF RATS WE WERE TO DRAW CONCLUSIONS ABOUT NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR.


Behaviorism is an outgrowth of evolution. Both behaviorists and evolutionists fail to recognize the distinction of man from the animal kingdom. Animals are primarily creatures of instinct, whereas men are free moral agents. Although man has instincts, he is not to let them govern him. God designed man to be governed by moral law.

Students had been told they were animals for so long that finally, in the late 1960's, they began to look and act like animals. Today many college students have no more morals than cockroaches.

When I was preaching at the University of Iowa a graduate student in biology argued evolution versus creation with me all afternoon. Each time he raised his hand to make a comment or ask a question, I called him an animal. Finally, late in the afternoon, he said,

"You better not call me animal again. I'm getting tired of it!"

"Ahaa!" I cried, "You have believed evolution with your head but your heart tells you that you are more than an animal."

The student was rightfully offended when I called him an animal, because something deep down inside told him he was more than beast. Men may argue vociferously to defend evolution but when you begin to treat them like animals they will quickly object.

Logically, it must be concluded if God created man in his image, then man is responsible to God. Since man does not want to be responsible to God, he has rejected the knowledge of God and substituted it for the vain imaginations of the evolutionists, behaviorists and other schools of thought.

Paul accused the Athenian intellectuals of spending their "time in nothing else, but to either tell or hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). So it is with the so-called intellectuals on the campuses. Popular philosophies and ideas come in and out of vogue like the length of women's skirts.

Humanistic Theology

In 1970 I was doing post-graduate work at Indiana State University and taking courses in counseling and psychology. By this time behaviorism seemed on the wane and it had been replaced by humanistic psychology. The behaviorist had studied animals to draw conclusions about human behavior but now the practice was to observe other human beings in the laboratory of a therapy group session. The idea was for individuals to set aside social restraints and "let go" in order to vent their true feelings and thoughts. I soon got into the swing of things and suggested that we have a group orgy. The professor who led the group said, "Jed, we are just not ready to handle that YET."


So the behaviorists study animals to learn normal human behavior and humanistic psychologists study other humans; but what does the Christian study? He studies theology which is the science of God. The Christian knows that man is made in the image of God. Therefore, he studies the character and attributes of God. He studies God's holiness, love, mercy, justice, and wisdom as revealed through Nature and Biblical Revelation because he knows that man is supposed to be God-like in character. The Christian knows that sin, hatred, malice, impatience, and injustice are contrary to man's nature because these things result in death.

"The position which we occupy is that the Christian faith is the perfection of human reason; that supernatural and historical Christianity is the only Christianity which is worth defending or which is capable of being defended on the grounds of reason or history; and that such Christianity, when interpreted by enlightened judgment, as to its truths and precepts, is not only friendly to the highest forms of culture, but is an essential condition of the same," said Noah Porter, the President of Yale College, in 1878.


Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Proverbs 6:27



Return to INDEX PAGE of Confrontational Evangelism on Campus