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Four Centuries of Faith at Harvard

By Editorial Staff
Published March 1, 1993

“After God had carried us safe to New England, and 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.”

This 17th century passage is familiar to all Harvard undergraduates, the words being inscribed on the northern panel of the Johnson Gates leading into Harvard Yard. This passage is taken from New England’s First Fruits, published by Samuel Eliot Morrison. It is the earliest account of Harvard which appeared in London in 1643. This same document cites the rules and precepts of Harvard:

“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.”

The founders of Harvard were, of course, the Puritans. Far from being the reactionary, dogmatic, judgmental, intolerant primitives, that modern students often imagine, these were an enlightened people who wished to cast off the darkness of Europe’s feudal past and forge a new type of society. They imagined that they were building the New Jerusalem and ushering in the Golden Age.

Samuel Eliot Morison, foremost Harvard historian, describes their ideology as follows: “The Puritan creed … stimulated mental activity on the part of those who professed it,” with the ministers maintaining “Open-minded and receptive attitudes toward scientific discoveries.” The Puritan religion provided the “dynamic motive for the intellectual movement in New England …”

Far from being ethereal mystics, the Puritans believed that Truth, in part, was knowable through the five senses and through empirical research and reasoning. But the idea that all Truth was knowable could only be fathomed in the realm of Faith, they argued. Visitors to Harvard need only to view the Harvard seal on one of the gates to see this illustrated. A stone rendering of the Harvard seal portrays three books – two are set faced up, while the third is displayed face down. A people who viewed all symbols as having great meaning no doubt meant this third book to signify the Truth that was hidden from reason. This was the Truth that could come only through divine revelation or Faith.

Before we dismiss the Harvard founders as being crude and unsophisticated, we should remember that it was their form of civil government, although not perfected, which became the working model for the world’s first successful democracy. This form of government is being imitated all over the world in our day.

The Puritans’ search for Truth and the perfect society, though unrealized, should be viewed with admiration to all who pass through Harvard’s gates, or by anyone who enjoys a measure of liberty in today’s world. They were truly prophets having foresight four centuries beyond their time.

See also: The Boston Awakening


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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
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6. What about the separation of Church and State?
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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

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Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

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Running Time: 130 minutes

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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