Two of the world’s oldest and most distinguished universities, Oxford and Cambridge, maintain colleges dating back centuries bearing names like Corpus Christi, Christ Church, Trinity and Jesus.
On this side of the pond, Harvard began as a clerical seminary. The same is true of Yale, which started (unironically) as a conservative alternative to Harvard.
Fast forward to last week and Harvard hired its first — and forgive the oxymoron — atheist chaplain. If there’s any lesson from higher education in the past century it’s that religious-based colleges can become unmoored from their faith-based traditions in only a few generations.
Of course, secular institutions of higher learning contribute immense good to the world. But, in their journeys toward secularization and neutrality on matters of belief, they’ve shed much of the moral ballast that once came with pairing academic discipline and discipleship.
That’s why Brigham Young University’s mission — and its religious educational experiment — is not something to be ashamed of, but rather something to embrace and cherish. This past week I took time to watch, to study and to sit with the recent talk at BYU by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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