One School Board Member Changed America’s Destiny–Looking Back to Understand Where We Are Now
Father, we ask Your forgiveness for allowing our colleges to be taken over by those who have abandoned Your truths. We ask for those colleges founded by Christians to return to their original intent. We ask for revival in our colleges and universities. We ask for positions of influence in our institutions to be filled with Godly men and women who will honor your Word and cause our youth to come into a relationship with You.
With over 5300 colleges and universities in the United States, our nation offers its youth a broad spectrum of educational opportunities. Most of today’s institutions of higher learning are secular, with little to no mention of God or Christianity in classes. But this was not always the case. Out of the first 108 colleges started in America, Christian churches or Christian organizations created 106. Today, many of our colleges and universities that were founded by Christian denominations or individuals who avowed a religious purpose are now liberal and have abandoned their Christian emphasis altogether. What happened that they abandoned their faith? To answer that question, Harvard University is the best example and will give great insight into the importance of school boards at the post-secondary level.
By 1636, there were already 17,000 Puritans who had immigrated to the New World. One of their major concerns was the need for an institution of higher learning to prepare pastors, missionaries, and civic leaders so they could preserve their religious beliefs and form of government. The Puritans and Calvinists asked for and were granted the right to form Harvard college by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The college, which later became Harvard University, operated with Puritan and Calvinists faculty and presidents.
Harvard’s descent into liberalism began as the two university’s governing boards (Harvard’s Board of Overseers and Harvard Corporation) began to accept Unitarians as members. The issues between the Unitarians and Puritans were fundamental: the Puritans held a God-centered view that man was born a sinner and needed a savior. The Unitarians’ liberal view held that man was basically good and could be educated to become a moral person. As long as the Unitarians were in the minority on their boards, Harvard remained true to its Puritan and Calvinist roots.
In 1803, the professor who headed the Hollis Chair of Divinity died, leaving his post on the Harvard Corporation vacant. After a year, a struggle broke out between the Unitarians and the Calvinists on who should take the open position.
The Harvard president procrastinated in suggesting a candidate for two years because the most obvious candidate was a liberal Boston Minister named Henry Ware. If Ware were to be appointed, the balance of power in the Harvard Corporation would favor the liberal Unitarians. The Calvinists were understandably distressed that the professor of Divinity would not be orthodox. All the ministers that would come out of Harvard would then be taught by a man they knew would be a Unitarian.
The local press began publishing articles to pressure the President to appoint Ware and accusing the President of misusing the chair’s endowment money. Something had to be done. In 1805, Henry Ware was appointed to Harvard’s Hollis Chair of Divinity, making him the most pivotal board member in American history.
- The clergy who took positions in churches throughout the states and the new territories would now be trained in liberal theology.
- New professors and teachers taking positions in classrooms teaching children and college students would be trained in liberalism.
Because of Harvard’s prestigious position, not only was Harvard forever changed, all of America was changed. According to educational historian Samuel L. Blumenfeld, the takeover was probably the most important in American history…for no event has had a greater long-range influence on American intellectual, cultural, and political life than this one. The takeover of Harvard by the Unitarians in 1805 made Harvard the citadel of religious and moral liberalism and the citadel of anti-Calvinism.
Today Harvard is still ranked among the top two universities in the USA, but it no longer holds to its Christian roots. The current Harvard website has no mention of Harvard’s religious beginnings. Their original motto, Truth for Christ and the Church, is now Truth. There is no mention of Harvard’s Original Rule: Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, 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.
It is likely that every liberal college and university in America first began its journey into liberalism through the transformation of its board members. When we pray for the school boards across America, we trust God that each one will be transformed and bring our schools back to their original intent to educate students to know God, serve Him, and impact for His good our communities and our nation. Who knows which school board will be the pivotal one that completes our country’s change to bring America’s reformation?
Comment your prayers for America’s reformation below!
About the Author: Nancy Huff is an educator with a mission to equip believers to pray strategically for the Cultural Mountain of Education. She has authored Taking the Mountain of Education: A Strategic Prayer Guide to Transform America’s Schools. She leads prayer groups to pray at key educational locations across the US. Currently, Nancy serves as the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network (HAPN) Lead Prayer Coordinator for the Mountain of Education. For additional information go to: https://takingthemountainofeducation.com/author/nancyahuff/ (Photo by Emily Karakis on Unsplash .)
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