America's Ivy League schools were once seminaries used to train pastors. Along the way, their views on the Bible as God's Word have changed. But there are lessons to be learned from the early college presidents who were themselves ministers, says Lewis Andrews, author of Living Spiritually in the Material World: The Lost Wisdom for Finding Inner Peace, Satisfaction and Lasting Enthusiasm in Earthly Pursuits.
Andrews, who started following Jesus in his 30s, believes it's possible for every Christian who is yearning for meaning and satisfaction to find it in a closer relationship with Jesus who is with them in their daily pursuits. He thinks the early college presidents, some reaching back to the American Revolution and Civil War, have something to teach us about living a Spirit-led life in what some have called the "real world."
Andrews, who is president of the Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation of Connecticut, believes in higher education. He has gained considerable experience as a social psychologist with degrees from Princeton and Stanford, as a research fellow at Yale Divinity School and as the executive director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy at Trinity College, Hartford. It's become his hobby to study the early college presidents and glean from their teaching about life outside the proverbial ivory tower.
"The famous schools—Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Princeton—all started as places to train ministers," Andrews says on a recent Charisma Connection podcast. "But then it became clear to the presidents of these schools, who were ministers, that a lot of the students weren't going to become ministers.
"They were there for the education, and they were going to graduate, and they were going to become doctors and lawyers or business people, whatever. And so every one of these early college presidents started a seminar to help undergraduates learn how to live spiritually in the material world. And this went on for about 300 years, from the founding of Harvard right up until the first World War, and had a tremendous influence on America. It not only influenced the graduates, but the ministers who left these schools went out had a huge impact on America."
This teaching helped the graduates learn how to live in and work in the material world and still follow God.
"How you negotiate the real world and stay true to God has a huge impact on American history," he says. "It's really been forgotten for the last hundred years, so that's what really inspired the book."
The "lost wisdom" of this history helps us avoid separating faith from the rest of life. Some in Western culture have adopted the God of the Big Bang theory of evolution.
"If there is a God, He started the universe several billion years ago but has no role in our everyday lives," Andrews says. "And unfortunately, even a lot of Christians have sort of bought that in terms of how they compartmentalize their lives. You know, they go to church, but during the week, they don't think about God too much. But if you remember that God is ever present and loving and ever helpful, it not only changes your mood—it changes your life."
Click here to listen to the entire podcast with Dr. Andrews.
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