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Oxford Drops 800-Year-Old Tradition: Required Christian Study

04-04-2016
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One of the world's oldest universities is making a major change to an 800-year-old tradition.

Oxford announced it will allow its undergraduate theology students to skip studying Christianity after the first year. Instead, they can swap in subjects like feminism, Buddhism, Islam and even mysticism.

Dr. Corne Bekker, dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University, spoke to CBN News about how this is a blow to Christian education. Click play to watch.

"We recognize that the people who come to study at Oxford come from a variety of different backgrounds and have legitimately different interests," Johannes Zachhuber, theology faculty board chairman, said in a Times Higher Education interview.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, with Christian Concern, expressed her disappointment with the decision to change one of the oldest degrees offered in the world.

"I think it's sad ... The founding fathers of Oxford believed that truth was noble and it was found in the pursuit of theology which we understood to be the study of Christianity," Williams said.

Dr. Corne Bekker, dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University, told CBN News the move is a blow to Christian education.

"Oxford University is not only one of the oldest Christian universities, actually in fact it's the third oldest university in the world," he said.

"And Oxford has always maintained this great understanding that theology is the queen of sciences," he continued. "We have somewhat of an empty throne now."

"I think increasingly we are working in a world that's not only materialist but relativist," Bekker continued. "And so the understanding is that all religions are simply equal and that nobody has a monopoly on truth. And that's of course an extraordinary mistake."

A spokesman for Oxford University argues that Christianity will still be studied.

"Christianity is still compulsory in the first year of the course - in fact there are two compulsory papers on it. So all students on the course will study Christianity," the spokesman said. "Christianity is still a major part of the course in second and third year, and it's very unlikely that a student would choose options that do not cover Christianity in these years."

Professors say the change follows the way religion is changing in the United Kingdom.

"The dominance of the Church of England has been receding but at the same time religion hasn't disappeared. We want to offer to potential students what is interesting for them and that has changed a lot in the last 30 years," Zachhuber said.

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