Anderson University a treasure house of learning in our own backyard

Writer: Alexander Campbell, Special to the Anderson Independent-Mail

This is a tale of two universities. Both were founded as distinctly evangelical Christian institutions, one in 1636 the other in 1911. The motto of one was “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae,” or “Truth for Christ and the Church.” The motto of the other is “Humanitatem per crucem alere,” or “To Nourish Humanity Through the Cross.” One of the universities abandoned its motto and later shortened it to “Veritas,” or just “Truth.” The other still holds to the motto of its founders. One university is located near Boston. The other is in the South Carolina Upcountry. The two universities are Harvard and Anderson. Their stories should cause us all to appreciate the treasure house of learning in our own backyard.

Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” In other words, to gain true wisdom and knowledge, you have to begin with understanding God. Education without God as a foundation runs the risk, as C.S. Lewis warned, of creating “a more clever devil.” The founders of our great halls of learning understood this, and that is why the Bible was the centerpiece of scholastic studies for centuries. Indeed, among the 1646 “Rules and Precepts” of Harvard University was the following: “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.”

Regrettably, anti-Christian influences began to prevail at Harvard in the 19th century, causing a dramatic shift from the previous foci of learning. While there are, no doubt, students and faculty at Harvard who have not yet bowed a knee to the Baals of worldly wisdom, the fact the school removed the purpose of “truth” — that being “for Christ and the Church” — from its motto demonstrates that it no longer believes in the “Rules and Precepts” that once guided young minds in the service of Christ and his church.

There is a very different story to be told about our own Anderson University. Founded by Baptists in 1911, AU has stayed the course of providing a thoroughly Christ-centered education for more than 100 years. As an AU parent, I have been both blessed and impressed with the depth of the Christian experience at the university as well as the scholarly atmosphere. As a local pastor, our church has been wonderfully enhanced by the commitment of numerous AU students over the years.

The apostle Paul warned those who would trade the knowledge of God for less noble pursuits when he said, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). For all of its Ivy League grandeur, I will take good old Anderson University and its genuine wisdom over the “Truth” of Harvard any time. Join with me in expressing gratitude for the treasure house of learning in our own backyard.

— Reprinted with permission from Anderson Independent-Mail. Alexander Campbell is a minister of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anderson.