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The thesis that colleges founded by churches eventually cut the cord and drift into secularity is no longer news in discussions of American higher education. And for that reason, one would hardly expect to enjoy yet another repetition of the thesis, especially one running over 800 pages. But James Burtchaell combines careful scholarship in primary sources such as faculty minutes and institutional histories with unpretentious, witty writing to present a highly readable treatment of the old theme. Many books that follow this thesis focus on the mass exodus of Protestant colleges from their churches in the second half of the 1800s or Catholic colleges in the 1960s (in both cases in the United States). While fully aware of these historical movements, Burtchaell also deals with two colleges facing the challenges of choosing what direction to take now, notably two American colleges: Azusa Pacific and Dordt.


Originally published in The Journal of Education and Christian Belief, 4:1 (Spring 2000).