Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Puritan Beginnings: Harvard

"Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed, to consider well that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3), and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning." (Founding Members' Mission Statement for Harvard, 1636)

If I were to give you the mission statement above without telling you where it came from, chances are, you would have thought it is some Bible college or theological institution. No. It is that famous institute called Harvard. It reminds us that the mission of the world renowned Harvard University had Puritan beginnings? In fact, the purpose of Harvard was to train pastors, missionaries, and qualified clergy for the benefit of the community and society at large. Established in 1636, the records from Harvard archives had this to say:

"After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust." (link)
(Credit: educateforchrist.org)
Nowadays, even in an Age of Google, it is very hard to find out the original mission statement of the early founders. Secularism and the plain refusal to give any prominence to God or its religious roots seem to be the default mode of the day. It is good to remember that Harvard has a Puritan beginning without which, she may not be where she is today.


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