10/14/97 Faith is extracurricular at Harvard, chaplain says

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--At one time, Harvard University could have been a member of the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities, said a speaker at Union University during a conference Oct. 10-11 on "The Future of Christian Higher Education."

Kelly Monroe, a chaplain appointed and paid by Conservative Baptists, said the earliest bylaws of the nation's oldest university laid an explicitly Christian framework, including the following passage: "Let every student consider well the main end of his life and studies: to know God and Jesus Christ."

Other prestigious institutions of higher learning -- now mostly secularized -- also were founded by Christians, including Yale, Dartmouth, Stanford, Duke, Wellesley, Columbia, Mount Holyoke, Tufts, Oxford and Cambridge, Monroe said.

Appointed to work with the Harvard United Ministry, Monroe helped organized the Veritas Forum, which conducts panel discussions and symposia in which students may ask questions she said are squelched in Harvard's classrooms.

At the first Veritas meeting, Monroe said forum leaders were expecting perhaps 100 in attendance, but 700 people came.

The event was "not something that was combative but rather a coming alongside the questions of students. Most of (these questions) are no longer allowed in their classrooms," Monroe observed.

The inquiries to the panel of Christian thinkers from various academic disciplines have included questions about the origin of humanity, whether faith and science conflict, if the Bible is historically accurate and why God allows suffering.

"The post-Christian university and society needs you," Monroe told the group of conferees from various Christian colleges. "We need to see schools where the center still holds, where wells of living water still nourish. ...

"Have mercy on these places that are starving -- understanding that their pride is often a sign of their poverty. ... I encourage you to build friendships with administrators and faculty in post-Christian colleges and universities."

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