Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colleges of the Founding Fathers

During the Founding Era, the President of Harvard College was an "Old Light" named Edward Holyoke (1689-1769), a pseudo-arminian, Unitarian; typical of the Boston Elites. It's fair to say, Holyoke, as President of Harvard, was responsible for day to day operation of the college, which included teaching. He was essentially responsible for the theology taught at Harvard. John Witherspoon was likewise responsible for the theology at Princeton, and the same for Presidents of: Yale, King's College, Penn, Rutgers, Dartmouth, et. al.

Holyoke was an ardent opponent of Calvinism and the "Great Awakening," the famous revival of the 1730's and 1740's. Holyoke, and others, wrote an attack against George Whitefield, called: The Testimony of the President, Professors, Tutors and Hebrew Instructor of Harvard College, Cambridge, Against the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield, And His Conduct. To the elites of Boston, ANY emotional behavior was deemed childish, and un-christian. One wonders if they believed what the scriptures say about speaking in tongues, and David dancing to the Lord.

Most likely, Harvard, at Boston, and William and Mary, in Virginia, were the only colleges that did not teach Orthodox Christianity to the Founding Fathers. Even at Harvard, Enlightenment Rationalism was taught to supplement the Scriptures, not vice versa.

Under Holyoke, Harvard rejected Orthodox Christian Fundamentals:

“The fact that Harvard had moved a long way from the strict faith of the fathers, under Edward’s “catholic temper” all manner of heresies flourished, or if they were not encouraged, were not firmly suppressed. Yale was the only stronghold of orthodoxy.” “Much was said, both in approval and censure of the President’s “catholic temper,” which soon affected the intellectual climate of the college. He had, moreover, “a good spirit of government.”

It is no mystery, Holyoke's arminianism derived from his "catholic temper," with its emphasis on salvation by works.

12 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

By man's Reason supplementing the Scriptures, I'm referring to man's conscience as the first revelation to man; being in man.

Harvard taught the Scriptures(God's Word) are superior to man's reason.

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Anonymous said...

This post is historically incompetent. Arminianism was antithetical to orthodox Calvinism, and in fact the Unitarians, along with Methodists and others, were deeply influenced by Arminianism. In particular, Arminianism rejects the strict "double predestination" commitment of orthodox Calvinism. To suggest that Holyoke was hostile to Calvinism may suit the writer's anti-Harvard prejudices, but is poor history. Holyoke was elected President unanimously, with both the most orthodox and the lest orthodox of both the Harvard Corporation and the Harvard Fellows supporting him. Additionally, the major American debates over Unitarianism developed largely after Holyoke's death in 1769.

Anonymous said...

I should add to the comment above, which I wrote, that it was Whitefield, not Holyoke, who was sympathetic to Arminianism. It is also noteworthy that the teaching of theology during most of Holyoke's presidency lay primarily in the hands of Edward Wigglesworth, who served as Hollis Professor of Divinity from 1722, when Thomas Hollis endowed the Hollis Chair, up to his death in 1760. Let's try to get history right, rather than sacrificing it to our own political agendas.