Scroll is animated by the desire to promote theological knowledge and insight among youth and to contribute to the positive development of young men in particular. Studies suggest that a small percentage of self-described American Christians has a working knowledge of the Bible and the rudiments of theology. Young people especially seem to be imbibing a culturally-driven, self-focused religiosity that tends to view God as a personal assistant tasked with meeting our needs and desires. This truncated religiosity is not only far from historic Christianity and neglectful of its theological heritage, it leaves young people morally bereft and ill-equipped to face the challenging problems of the world around them and of their own lives. The Lilly Endowment’s decision to fund multiple youth theology institutes like Scroll at campuses across the country seeks to address these concerns.
As one of the few remaining colleges for men in the country, Wabash College is aware that many of the troubles facing young people today are notably pronounced among boys and young men. Educators at every level recognize that males have fallen behind. A visit to just about any co-educational elementary, secondary, or college classroom will reveal relatively attentive, engaged girls and young women and alienated, disengaged boys and young men. One sign of this is that almost 60% of college students today are women. While we rightly celebrate the advances of girls and women, several social commentators have suggested we face a crisis of education and acculturation of males. The roots of this crisis are widespread—involving economic, social, familial, ideological, and many other factors—but one of the results has been a failure to successfully usher many of our boys into manhood.
Like Wabash College, Scroll will challenge young men to go beyond limited expectations and murky horizons by pushing them to learn and grow in a stimulating, supportive environment. Through an intensive, holistic experience, Scroll aims to provide theological nourishment that energizes young hearts, minds, and souls. We want the young men who participate to see their lives as serious endeavors and to appreciate the deep theological resources from which they can draw in order to build solid moral and spiritual foundations. We also aim to show that learning and living together with conviction and commitment is hard and weighty but also great fun, with the hope that our young men will leave campus seeking to continue their development.
As for specific goals, Scroll intends for our students to:
- Develop knowledge of Christian biblical and theological resources and their application to contemporary social issues facing American communities.
- Augment their moral imaginations and capacities for moral reasoning as they think critically about perennial issues.
- Experience the power of uniting learning and worship, faith and service, integrity and love, through opportunities to learn, work, and worship together, and to give to those in need.
- Consider their own life trajectories and whether they may be called to lives of ministry and service, either directly through a pastorate or through other means.
- Enjoy the process of striving together toward transformative knowledge and practice in a group of motivated and committed young men, a unique and beneficial experience they can take back to their schools and churches.