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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 6. May 28, 1958

Key to Life

Key to Life

The older universities were founded with aims that have often in this modern age seemed out of date and irrelevant. So much so that when a new wave of university foundations began a century ago a completely new purpose was envisaged, and to a large extent the old universities have been modified, as they have at other times through the centuries, to conform to this new purpose.

Six hundred years ago there was less variety in the pursuit of knowledge than there is today, and the "queen of the sciences", the key to all branches of knowledge, was theology, the study of God's person and His ways with men. Undoubtedly much of the serious discussion which occupied learned men of that period can be seen now to be virtually worthless, and some would claim that it was in pursuit of such studies, and not in defiance of them, that the universities came into being, to act as centres for the searching of the wisdom of the ancients and to find new ways of providing for the needs of men in a changing world.

By the nineteenth century that world had changed considerably. For various reasons the old attitudes of faith in God were being questioned, not for the first time, and the beginnings of an age of vast discovery seemed to be connected rather with the questioning of faith than with its defence. Science and religion were seen as being in opposite camps, the one progressive (and progressive was fast becoming the most influential catchcry of all time) and productive of much good for man in this world; and the other floundering in obscurantism, with the promise of benefit in another, too remote, world. It is not surprising that the emphasis in university studies should be reassessed firmly as "secular" and free from any form of unsympathetic control.

The battle grew more violent as the years rolled on, and although its intensity has now for long been on the wane there are still signs of skirmishing here and there. Both sides have learned better what the fight was about, and many points of difference have vanished. The advocates of progress have had their enthusiasm dampened by two world wars, and their opponents have learned that there are many sides to truth.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that university studies continue to be oriented to the extreme "secular" pattern demanded at the height of the struggle, and the political and economic problems of the present age seem to demand an increasing emphasis on the scientific improvement of material circumstances. Fields of knowledge become ever more specialised, and is becomes increasingly more difficult to synthesize the many aspects of truth—or apparent truth — which constantly present themselves. Life is in danger of becoming a maze of knowledge without a key.

Photo of Dean Bretton

Dean W. F. Bretton, M.A. (Camb.), who is to be the speaker at the "Mission to the University" to be held June 7-15. Dean Bretton played a prominent part in student activities and was Captain of Boats for two years at Cambridge.

To meet the unsatisfied needs of students there have come into existence in most universities voluntary groups of students with a common religious bond of fellowship, who seek to foster a wider view of life than one is often tempted to adopt in the course of specialized studies. Man is a complex creature, much more complex than some earlier students of his nature have been inclined to admit. Man can, himself, discover a great deal about his material environment, but he needs spiritual assistance in his quest for spiritual insight and improvement.

The members of the Evangelical Union believe that man's needs cannot be assessed adequately without reference to God. God is beyond man's unaided searching, but reveals Himself to those men who are prepared to accept Him at His full worth. He alone can give life its full meaning in the midst of confusion and partial achievement. He, in fact, holds the key to life, and offers it to all who will heed His call.

It is in the realisation of this fact that the E.U. is planning a Mission to the University, with the theme "The Key to Life".

K. L. McKay,

Lecturer in Classics.