God is on the Move at Harvard – and in our World

God is on the Move at Harvard – and in our World April 6, 2023

The challenge of Harvard (and most universities)

Jeff and I met in grad school at Harvard; I was getting an analytical master’s degree and he was at the law school. We were both followers of Jesus and found (as many others have) that this elite and supposedly enlightened environment could be a very, very difficult one for people of sincere faith. We observed firsthand how radically our leading universities have changed – and how they have led our overall culture in that change.

Harvard and many other universities were founded to honor God and equip Christian leaders to pursue and advance His truth and love in the world. Harvard was our nation’s first university, founded in 1636, and its motto for hundreds of years was “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae” – Truth for Christ and the Church. But today as purely secular institutions, our universities have an almost institutional backlash against things of faith. It is as if many college leaders and students feel that the expression of our Judeo-Christian foundation is harmful, so they feel compelled to curtail or extinguish it. Today, Harvard’s motto is simply “Veritas” – truth in a vacuum. In prior generations, true debate among divergent viewpoints was viewed as essential for learning. Today, as with so much in our culture, true debate is shut down because certain viewpoints are viewed as illegitimate or even dangerous.

So Jeff and I did indeed find all those challenges on campus. Yet we also found something else: a vibrant Christian community. And among those young men and women who clung to God and leaned on each other in the various Christian fellowship groups, our faith grew in astounding ways. We realized we had a choice. We could hide our faith under a rock and simply try to endure the next few years, or we could live our authentic lives as Christians in public view and try to be a light in what was often a dark place. Sometimes that was easier than others, and we didn’t always do it well. Sometimes, in fact, we did it pretty badly. I know I’m not the only one who thinks back with some shame on times when I responded to class debates and the ridicule of others with cutting words or anger instead of love, patience, and kindness. I’m embarrassed by the many times I didn’t claim the name of Jesus because I didn’t want classmates or professors to think less of me. (A few years after I graduated, I even wrote a novel set at Harvard – a spiritual thriller called The Veritas Conflict – that included some of that history and environment in the story.)

Yet in the middle of all that, everyone was still praying. And for generations, people have been praying for Harvard and so many other schools. Because, as the saying describes, “As go our elite universities, so goes the nation.”

In all that time, God has not somehow been absent. He has heard those prayers. He has watered the seeds that so many have been planting – for example, via rich Veritas Forum networks of Christian thinkers at hundreds of secular universities in the last few decades, or via the recent revivals at Christian schools like Asbury University that have spread to others in the last few months.

Which brings me to recent events.


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