William Rainey Harper.

The trend in higher education online

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church is a kingdom in which the spirit of Jesus
Christ shall fill the heart and control the life of every
man; and in this way the church will control the
state, and commerce, and letters. Not by direct
e£fort may it any longer determine the poHcy of
nations, but as the spirit of Christ fills the hearts
of men, war, the usual method of settHng questions
when the church was actually in control, will give
place to arbitration. There is no direct method by
which the church may seek to control commerce;
but as it embraces within its fold the hearts and
Uves of business men, commerce will put away
its degrading and unjust practices, and men will
deal with one another as they would have others
deal with them. Not by direct effort, nor by exer-


cise of control, may the church sway the intel-
lectual centers of the country. More and more
rapidly are these passing out from the hands of the
church. And, in the nature of things, there exists
no better reason for the control of universities by
the church than for the control of the state by the
church. In both cases such control is external,
alien, artificial, and injurious. The only power
for the determination of the poHcy of the university
and the only power for the determination of the
policy of a nation must come from within and not
from without. Here again the ideal of the church
in such relationship shall be the control of the
individual mind and heart. And the work of each
church in the great system will be to reach out in
the spirit of Christ and to touch man — every man
within its reach; in every phase of the activity of
life; in every function which man is called upon to
perform; in every duty to his fellow- men which rests
upon him. In this way the churches will come into
living contact with civic institutions on every side,
and, at the same time, with the great industrial
and business world, for the conduct of which these
civic institutions have been estabhshed; and, still
further, with the great centers of intellectual work
and research in which the world's leaders are pre-
pared and in which progressive thought in every
Une is cultivated.

The church, in the past, has done its work, for
the most part, from without and not from within.


It is now beginning to adopt the latter policy, not
from choice but from compulsion. Henceforth
it is to deal, not with institutions of government,
or institutions of commerce, or institutions of learn-
ing, but with the individuals who have to do with
these institutions. The preacher's work now be-
comes a different kind. In the past his work
has been to assert the authority of the church, or
the authority of the creed. His work in the past
has been to deal with man en masses and to deal
with institutions as such. In his capacity as a
representative of the church it was his function
first of all to provide for the maintenance of the
institutions of the church, but as these were insep-
arably connected with those of the state, his influence
and concern included both.

Today, however, the preacher's concern with
civic institutions is very shght. Adopting the
poUcy of the church itself, he has become largely
indifferent. If a preacher enters prominently into the
arena of pubHc affairs, he is regarded by his fellow-
preachers as seeking notoriety; by the pubHc at large,
as abandoning his proper work. He is almost en-
tirely cut off from participating in pubhc hfe outside
the narrow lines of his profession. Of many of the
privileges belonging to the ordinary citizen he is de-
prived, and some of the duties he may not perform.
He does not hold office. How rare an event it is for
a minister of the gospel to be elected to the governor-
ship of a state or to membership in Congress! In


the larger municipalities he may not even become
a member of the board of education, where one
would think he might render service of a most
valuable character. For some reason or other,
any attempt on his part to move outside the Hues
which modem sentiment has created renders him
liable to the suspicion of entertaining a desire to exer-
cise influence in favor of his peculiar ecclesiastical
ideas. As in the affairs of state, so it is even in
education. At one time, in order to be a candidate
for the presidency of an institution of learning one
had to be an ordained minister. Today it is almost
impossible for an ordained minister to be considered
in connection with the office of president in any of
the larger institutions. Only recently the tradition
of two centuries was broken at Yale — broken at
the command of pubhc sentiment by a board of
trustees the majority of whom were ministers.
Now it is sufficient if the board of trustees of many
of our institutions has in its membership a single min-
ister. With regard to the pubhc affairs which are con-
nected closely with our civic institutions, the message
to the minister of today is "hands off." There
is, of course, a reason for this. Nothing happens
except for cause. The pubhc's attitude of mind is
the result of the feehng that the minister, in affairs
of state and in affairs of education, is narrow.
An editorial in the New York Evening Post a short
time since put it that, if a minister is to be a candidate
for such a position, he must be larger than his pro-


fession; that, in other words, he is not prepared to
undertake the responsibiHties involved in this posi-
tion. It is also the feeling of the pubhc that he can-
not be rehed upon to act impartially and justly; that,
in other words, he will be governed to a greater or
less extent by ties of ecclesiasticism. The minister
himself, on the other hand, feels, as he did not
formerly feel, his inability to meet the demands under
modern conditions. He is in most cases willing to
be called narrow and to be narrow, at least so far as
this appUes to the scope of his work. This has all
come about as a part of the reaction from the time
when the clergy was supreme.

The future, however, will make greater demands
upon the minister than the past has ever made.
He will sustain a closer relationship to civic affairs,
including commerce and letters, than that which
existed even when the church was in absolute control
of Hfe and thought. The relationship, I maintain,
will be closer; but it will be very different. The
relationship of mother and child is very close; so
formerly was that of ecclesiasticism and poHtics.
The relationship of man and wife is still closer; so will
be that of the minister and our civic institutions. This
relationship, though very close, will not be a direct
one; the minister must stand in touch, not with the
institutions themselves, but with the individuals,
one by one, who enter into and constitute these
institutions; that is, individuals serving in every
relationship of life. In order to be the adviser of


the workingman, he must be familiar with the
workingman's point of view. In order to be the
adviser of the rich man, he must be famiHar with
the rich man's point of view. This goes without
saying; but this is not all. To be the true adviser
of the rich man, he must know most intimately the
experiences, the feehngs, and the situation of the
workingman. To be the true adviser of the working-
man, he must know the heart, the purpose, the method
of the man possessed of millions. This is only an
illustration of what I mean. To put it in another
form: the minister who would help humanity must,
in the first place, deal with individuals one by one,
and, in the second place, he must know the civic
conditions in the midst of which he works. Those
conditions he must influence through the individuals
with whom he is brought into contact. He must,
like the apostle of old, be all things to all men.
His very Ufe as a minister depends upon his abiUty
to bring men into harmony with their environment,
and of that environment the civic institutions are
the most tangible expression. The world's preachers,
whatever the religion they may have professed,
because of different demands, and because of different
temperaments, have been either priests, or prophets,
or sages. In these days the situation makes little
call for priests; a few prophets here and there will
suffice; the cry that goes up to heaven is for sages —
men who, sitting in the gates of the city, shall, with
a wisdom which includes the practical things of life.


as well as the affairs of the classes and of the masses,
deal face to face and hand to hand with life as it is.

From what I have said the idea may be gathered
that the minister of the future is to preach what is
.sometimes called sociology. This is the farthest
possible from my thought. His function it is to
represent God to men; to do, in so far as he is able,
just what Jesus did, and to do it, in so far as he is
able, just as Jesus did it. Did Jesus have to do
with the civic institutions of his times ? He was not
in a position to control them, or, indeed, to influence
them directly; and yet, by the words which he spoke
here and there, by the teaching which he promulgated
through the Twelve, he eventually overthrew the
institutions which existed in his day, and supplanted
them with others of a far different type.

There are in this connection some phases of our
seminary Ufe and work which deserve to be pointed
out, because they bear directly upon the question. I
am thinking of the ordinary seminary; I am glad
to say that there are exceptions, of which I need not
now speak.

Notwithstanding the great advance which has
been made in our seminaries, they are narrow in
scope and narrow in spirit. They do not include
provision for instruction in many of the departments
of Christian work which are only less important
than preaching itself; nor for instruction in preaching.
Some of these adopt the theory that the man who
has had college training and the man who has never


seen a college may work together in the same class-
room with equal profit; others adopt the theory that
for all preachers, whatever may be the field in which
they are at work, the same training is necessary —
a theory which has worked infinite injury to the
growth of the churches. This is what is meant by
narrowness in scope. By narrowness in spirit I
mean lack of deep and enthusiastic sympathy with
life, lack of a strong and uphfting ideaHsm, lack of a
sturdy and sober optimism, which would lead men
preparing to preach to enter upon their work with
all their souls and in spite of any and every sacrifice;
which would force them, even against their will,
into touch with the problems of life as it exists today
on every side of us.

Our seminaries are more or less exclusive in their
spirit, and are thus perpetuating the old priestly
spirit, which has so often wrought ruin both to
individuals and to nations. This exclusiveness
grows out of the methods employed, and out of the
kind of life which the students live. In many
instances it is due to delusive ideas entertained
concerning the call which has been received to preach.
Evidence of such a call, or belief in it without
evidence, not seldom creates in young men the spirit
of pride and exclusiveness rather than that of humility.
No one more profoundly than I can believe in the
dignified and lofty character of the ministerial caUing;
but so often we see this spirit of superiority manifested
that we are compelled to ask: Whence does it


come? And with this pride there usually goes a
spirit of dependence which is largely cultivated by
the seminary methods of furnishing financial assist-
ance to students; and the combination thus arising
does much to prevent any considerable progress
toward a time when our young men shall be in a
position to deal with the problems involved in the
relation of individuals to civic institutions.

Our seminaries are still too mediaeval in their
character, too far away from our modern Ufe.
The young theological student does not come into
touch with hfe by going out into the country and
preaching on a Sunday. For, in most cases, the
only results of this work (aside from the small
remuneration gained) are the acquisition of bad
habits of preaching, and the neglect of regular
seminary work. In order to touch life, it is neces-
sary for the student during his career to give either
several months exclusively to practical work, or a
portion of every day of every week. The Moody
Institute in Chicago, and similar institutions, are
in some ways doing incalculable injury to the
cause of Christianity. It is possible, however,
that this injury may be in part counterbalanced
by the good which is undoubtedly being done along
the line of training in practical work.

Our seminaries, furthermore, do not, and per-
haps they cannot, train their students into knowl-
edge of, and sympathy with, the all-pervading
scientific spirit of the times; and yet somehow and


somewhere, if the minister is to put himself in a
position to deal with modern life as it enters into
civic institutions, this spirit must be cherished.

There is another respect in which our semina-
ries are seriously defective. Society is to the
prospective minister what the human body is to
the prospective physician. And yet of psychology
in its modern aspect, and of the elementary princi-
ples of economic structure, the average theological
student is almost entirely ignorant. These studies,
for the theological student, correspond to the anatomy
and physiology and pathology of the human body
of which the medical student must have knowledge
in order to do his work. As a mental discipline the
curriculum of our theological seminary may be the
best possible; but it cannot lay claim to be the best
for the practical training of men for a technical
profession. It deals too much with the past, and
does riot make practical application to the situation
of the present. And so it comes that our semina-
ries are much like a medical school in which no
provision should be made for the study of anatomy
or physiology or psychology.

And this brings us to the question : What should
be the seminary's concern in reference to those
institutions of government and of society which have
for their function the administration of the affairs
of society, including the great industrial system,
and enter into and compose society ? If the church
is concerned, and if the preacher is to have concern.


it follows at once that the seminary should have as
its deepest concern the adjustment of its training
to this end.

If the preacher is to tell the rich man how he is
to deal with the laboring-man, he must know from
actual contact, something of the sufferings of the
laboring-man and the injustice to which he is being
subjected. If, in turn, he is to tell the laboring-man
how he should feel toward the capitajist, the preacher
must have learned something of the great laws of
commerce and of the principles which underlie
society in its present complication. If he is to advise
the office-holder, he surely must know something
in detail of the institutions which control the various
activities of life. If he is to be a leader, he must,
in a word, receive the training necessary for leader-
ship. The seminary is responsible for furnishing
such a training. There have been some instances
of men going into the ministry after having taken a
course of study in law. The almost uniform suc-
cess of such men points in the direction I have

These few and scattering statements I have
meant as a basis for a few suggestions as to how
the seminary may discharge its responsibility in this
matter, and for a few specific propositions as to
how these suggestions might be carried out. It is
true, of course, that what remains to be said has
already been said by way of anticipation.

The first duty of the seminary, then, would seem


to be to inculcate more generally, more deeply, and
more constantly the spirit of democracy. Our
institutions are democratic institutions. The man
whose heart is not thoroughly controlled by the
democratic spirit cannot appreciate them. The
church always has been, and is today, essentially
aristocratic. The failure of the churches to reach
the masses is due to the feeling on the part of the
masses, whether right or wrong, that the church is
today, as it has largely been in the past, on the side
of kings and the rich. If the Christian church is to
hold its influence in this and other democratic
countries, its spirit and its methods must largely

There must be presented to the theological stu-
dent the great problems of democracy. Democracy's
principles have not as yet been formulated. Nor can
they be formulated until some of the problems have
been solved. But the problems of democracy cannot
be solved without the light which Jesus' teaching
sheds upon them. It is the Christian minister and
the Christian student, properly equipped, to whom
we must look for the solution of the difficulties which
now beset us. Today many of our ministers and
teachers do not even know of the existence of these
problems, and yet they enter upon their mission with
the belief that God is directing their work. God
may use the ignorant to accomplish his service, but
he never does so from choice.

The seminary must bring its students into touch


with the people, and especially with the people who,
to use their own phrase, ** have no use for the church."
It is pitiable that men should be brought up to the
point of entering upon their ministerial work without
having jostled against the great, unbelieving masses
of humanity on every side of them. Preaching in
country churches does not furnish this training.
Reading the lectures of Robert Ingersoll does not.
One must feel it directly and for himself, by seeing
it as it is embodied in the rotten filthiness of whole
communities, in the stale corruption of whole classes,
in the blasphemous utterances which almost stifle
him who hears them.

The seminary student should, then, for a time at
least, live in the midst of the misery and wretchedness
of the poor. This will open his eyes and open
his heart to the deep and murderous cry of a dejected
and desperate humanity. Will such an experience
be of service to a man who is to occupy a country
pulpit? It matters not where his work is to be
done; the life of Jesus will never be understood by
one who has not, with his own eyes, seen the woes
of poverty and crime.

An experience of perhaps equal value is life on
the frontier, where one may learn the natural ten-
dencies of the human heart when the restrictions of
society have been removed — a knowledge very
necessary to the man who is to guide those who have
fallen by the way.

Some adequate method must also be devised for


the education of men who will work among the
lower classes. A few ministers grow up to the point
which makes it possible for them to work among
the wealthy classes. Very few find themselves able
to work with satisfaction or with effect among the
masses. The well- trained man not only cannot do
such work — he will not do it. How shall it be done ?
Here is where the aristocratic spirit manifests itself:
leave it for the Salvation Army, or pay the salary
of a few men who will make a pretense of doing it
for the sake of the pay. This is a problem of
democracy, a problem of the church, which the
seminary must solve, or dire destruction awaits
not only church, but country. We need hundreds
of Edward Judsons and Graham Taylors.

The seminary student must study and know the
pubHc-school system and must supplement that
system. It is difficult to foretell the outcome of
another fifty years of our educational system — a
system which trains the mind, but, for the most
part, leaves the moral side untouched; no religion,
no ethics, merely a sharpening of the intellect.
The Roman Catholics meet this difficulty; our
Protestant churches seem utterly to ignore it. A
blind faith that the Sunday school will do what the
public schools do not do, leads us to lose sight of a
peril as deadly as any that confronts us.

Let the spirit of independence rather than that of
dependence be cultivated among our seminary
students. There is a kind of dependence even on


God which is culpable. Some call this faith. It
is rather superstitious indolence, and is deadening
to any true activity. The old fashion of dependence
upon the state for maintenance still lingers among
us. Let it be cast aside, and instead of it let us
cherish the spirit which underlies all our demo-
cratic institutions, the spirit of honest, earnest effort ;
the spirit which enters into and constitutes the true
life. Let us carry others' burdens; but let us not
ask others to carry ours. This is the spirit of

My second suggestion is one not so easy to pre-
sent. It is that in our seminaries we inculcate a
new doctrine of the church, and of the church's min-
istry. I do not flatter myself that I can formulate
this new doctrine. Its formulation will go hand in
hand with that of the principles of democracy.
Such a formulation may be expected within the next
half-century. Meanwhile we may be making effort
to gain the merest glimpses of it. The church, I
maintain, has not yet adjusted itself to the new
environment. The old idea of the church and of
church methods will not answer today and tomorrow.
It is something too stiff, too far away, and, as has
been said, too narrow. But you ask me to say
what it should be. I can only grope, as in the
dark, toward an ideal, some aspects of which, here
and there, already begin to show themselves.

It should be taught and practiced that the church
has responsibility as great for those outside its fold


as for those within. For, though this may be our
present theory, we do not adopt it as a working
basis. The functions of most churches are largely
restricted to caring for their own church member-
ship. If it would assist in overcoming this evil, I,
for one, could wish that the ostensible lines of sepa-
ration between the member and the non-member
might be ignored.

It should be taught, furthermore, that the great
denominations of Christians have in these days
nothing essential to separate them — that denomina-
tional connection is largely (not wholly) a matter of
historical accident, or a matter of temperament;
that in every case co-operation of the forces of all
denominations is desirable, and that in many cases
it is feasible. Denominationalism is a necessity;
it is, in fact, a thing desirable; but let us minimize
its weaknesses and magnify its points of advantage.
This will have a distinct influence in preparing the
way for the church to exert an influence on the outer

Let us teach, also, that the church has something
to do with all the activities of a normal life. This
must be true, if the church is intended to represent
the spirit of Jesus. There is no moment of life, no
event of life, in which and with which its influence
should not be felt. The various forms of recreation
and amusement afford as legitimate a field for the
ministers' work as the deathbed; and it is a field in
which a deal more can be accomplished for humanity.


The church is just as much concerned with the intel-
lectual progress of its constituents as with the moral
progress. It has concern, also, with the physical side.

Let us teach, too, that the church through its
ministers should, therefore, take up any and all
agencies which make for the betterment of mankind.
Jesus was a healer of the body as well as of the soul.
The multitude of outside agencies now engaged in
humanitarian work are sucking the very life-blood
of the church. Here, again, the Roman Catholics
have shown a greater wisdom than the Protestants;
for with them these agencies are, in nearly every case,
those of the church.

Let us teach that the minister's work is not
merely that of preaching. Nine-tenths of the semi-
nary work is based upon this idea. As a matter of
fact, preaching should not constitute one-tenth of
his work. What the minister says out of the pulpit

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Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 14 of 24)