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Vantage point


Christian college meltdown

America’s history of Christian colleges is, unfortunately, largely a sad one. Yes, the stories usually start well. But the continuing accounts often reveal once-strong evangelical institutions that have abandoned their roots, their Christian charters ignored.

Our pilgrim forefathers never conceived of any institution of higher learning devoid of a spiritual core. Six of nine colleges in colonial America came into existence directly as the result of revivals. Harvard and Princeton were founded to train young men for ministry. Brown, Rutgers and Dartmouth all claim Christian antecedents, the latter specifically for Native Americans.

Yet, by the time George Whitefield, the leading evangelist of the 18th-century Great Awakening, arrived on our shores, the situation had so significantly deteriorated that he denounced some of the colleges as “abodes of darkness, a darkness which could be felt.”

Harvard, Whitefield said, was filled with “Pharisees, resting on head knowledge.” Yale was founded to counter Harvard’s spiritual drift.

Yet, it didn’t take Yale itself long to drift. When Timothy Dwight, grandson of revivalist Jonathan Edwards (briefly president of Princeton), became president of Yale in 1795, neither the Yale faculty nor student body claimed to be Christian. Despite opposition, Dwight led Yale back into a move of God that lasted for several years.

The more recent list of Christian colleges that have broken from their moorings is lengthy. Historically, many begin their slide when they sever ties with the original church governing body. But my point is not to list these myriad institutions. It is, instead, to challenge us to realize that an institution of Christian higher learning is never more than a generation from complete apostasy … and even Assemblies of God schools must remain ever vigilant.

Thankfully, they have. Our Fellowship has a rich history of colleges and universities birthed in the fire of Pentecostal revival. You will find no spiritual meltdown in the institutions of the Assemblies of God. The pages that follow should supply ample evidence of that.

— Ken Horn

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