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lines that which this lower conception of^reHgious
education demanded, it has done nothing', and the
student has been permitted, and indeed forced, as
he went forward in his intellectual work, to break
wholly or in part, with the traditions and traditional
methods of his early youth, in so far as these have
had to do with religion or the religious life. Col-
lege and university training, in short, has been
largely lacking in everything that directly concerns
the development of the religious side.

One more feature of the situation deserves con.
sideration. Inasmuch as the problems of life in
general are worked out more largely in the uni-
versity and college than anywhere else, institutions
of higher learning having come to be regarded as
leaders in the work of solving problems in every
realm of life, the fact that the problems of religious
life have been neglected in the university and college
means that they have been altogether neglected. The
theological seminaries of the country have not been
intended to serve as laboratories for the working
out of problems, but as training schools for the
instruction of expert propagandists, and the success
of these training schools has been measured by their
ability to turn out men of exactly the same pattern
as the officers engaged in the work of instruction.
Any variation from the traditional point of view



adopted by those in control of a particular insti-
tution has immediately called for ecclesiastical dis-
cipline. It is doubtful whether in the last fifty
years a single important problem relating to the
religious life and education has been solved in the
theological seminaries of the United States.

The consequence of all this has been that prob-
lems of the most vital character have existed, while
apparently no attempt was being made toward their
solution. As in the past, so in the present, the
solution of these problems will not come from the
church or its established schools. The denomi-
national machinery in every case is too largely
occupied in propagating its own ideas and interests
exactly as they have been in vogue throughout the
years. ■ The solution of these difficult questions must
come, if it come at all, largely from men who are
not biased by ecclesiastical influence. The uni-
versity, in other words, must devote itself, at least
in part, to the working out of these grave questions.
This is a true part of its function and falls defi-
nitely and directly within its scope.

We may not lose sight of the important fact that
the home and the church have each its work; but
with this definitely in mind, we ask: What is it
that the university may reasonably be expected to do ?

First of all, then, the university is unquestion-
ably the agency through which there shall be insti-
tuted such investigations as those to which reference
has been made. This is true because so large a


part of the fundamental work necessary for these
investigations is already established in the uni-
versity. If, for example, the research proposed is
to deal with biblical material, departments already
exist which are equipped for just this work. The
same thing holds good if it Hes along the Hnes of
psychology, philosophy, history, or even the more
practical field of pedagogy. It is a question, indeed,
whether such investigations can be made to any con-
siderable advantage outside of the university. More-
over, there exists in the university the spirit of
research, without which no effort of this kind will
be successful. Under ordinary circumstances, it is
only in a friendly environment that investigation is
likely to be prosecuted. For the highest culti-
vation of art, in any of its several departments, one
must seek an atmosphere which is friendly to its
cultivation. How different, for example, was the
attitude toward art which manifested itself in ancient
times, on the one hand in Israel, and on the other
hand in Greece ! In one country, art of every kind
was placed under a ban, because the leaders of the
people beheved it to be inseparably associated with
a form of religious beHef entirely hostile to the great
ideas of God which they were making strenuous
effort to inculcate in the minds of the people. In
the other country nothing existed either in nature
or in the life of the people that did not encourage
the development of art and make contributions to
its culture. The spirit of research in any line of


modem knowledge is something exceedingly deli-
cate, requiring constant encouragement, and pos-
sible only under the most favorable circumstances.
For the best interests, then, of rehgious education
the university should undertake those pieces of in-
vestigation which wijl place in a newer and truer
light the fundamental principles of education as
they are applied to the rehgious field. Nor can the
university from its own point of view afford to neg-
lect this fruitful line of work. It has already been
suggested that in the work of many of its depart-
ments it finds itself forced to take up questions di-
rectly involving the->problems of religion or theology.
This appears in connection with philosophy and psy-
chology, history and sociology, Enghsh and modern,
literature; while the problems of the great fields of
science in every case resolve themselves finally into
questions which are more or less closely connected
with this all- comprehensive subject. If one attempts
to separate rehgion, rehgious thought, and rehgious
hfe from these various fields of inquiry, he will soon
find that such effort is impracticable. So closely in-
terwoven have been the hues of secular and religious
thought through all the past, as well as in modem
times, that they may not be sharply separated.

Two or three practical results will follow the
taking up of these problems by the university: (i)
The subject of rehgious education, and indeed the
subject of religion itself, will be elevated and digni-
fied in the minds of a great body of people by whom,


perhaps, the claims of religion have not hitherto
been strongly felt. We do not mean to imply that
religion itself will be dignified or elevated; that is
impossible. But in the estimation of a great class
of people who have not given to religion its proper
place, there will be an added dignity, and conse-
quently a larger interest. (2) There is nothing
more essential for the advancement of rehgion, as
well as for that of religious education, than that
it should be treated with respect and reverence;
and this will be one of the results of the intro-
duction of this policy by the university. The very
fact that these are problems on which learned and
scientific men are at work; the fact that they
are deemed worthy of a place side by side with
the problems of other great departments, will
have great influence in securing for them, not only
the dignified place to which they are entitled, but
also that more delicate sentiment of respect and
appreciation. (3) Inasmuch as it has been so
widely felt that the rehgious feehng was something
pecuhar to women and weak men, and inasmuch
as every abuse of thought and conduct has been
practiced in the name of religion, all this tending to
the degradation of that which was most holy, there
is actual need of some objective movement which,
in a measure at least, shall counteract the de-
basing influence of so many other movements in
their relation to religion. Just such an elevating
and helpful influence, it is beheved, will be found


in this new attitude of higher institutions of learn-
ing toward the scientific consideration of problems
connected with religion and the rehgious Ufe.

If it is asked, What shall be the nature of these
investigations? one need only refer to what has
already been done in the papers and volumes pub-
lished by university men within five years, and to
the interest already shown by scientific scholars in
questions relating to the development of the religious
side of the child in accordance with the laws which
have been made known in connection with anthro-
pological and psychological science. These studies,
already noteworthy in character as well as in prin-
ciple, give promise of a splendid work. The num-
ber of the men who are today devoting themselves
exclusively to the consideration of these questions is
already considerable, and the field is at once so large
and so attractive that within a short time the number
of such workers will be greatly increased.

The university may likewise offer instruction in
those subjects which contribute to a better concep-
tion of religious education. In making provision
of this kind, consideration will be given to the classes
of students for which the university is responsible,
and to the special work in various departments which
^*-^j3ears upon the subject. In so far as possible, the
university should encourage schools preparing stu-
dents for college to provide the opportunity of making
preparation in the subject of biblical literature and
history. Whatever may be the point of view from


which the subject is considered, the inevitable con-
clusion is that biblical history and literature, in view
of their prominence in the history of the past, and
in view of their influence in modern history and
thought, deserve a place side by side with other
ancient history and literature. In making this sub-
ject a possibility in the preparatory curriculum, one
has in mind, of course, a kind of work which will be
as severe in its character as any work of a similar
nature in the schedule of studies. The instruction
in the university itself must be adapted to differ-
ent classes of students. There will be undergradu-
ates who choose this subject, as they would any other
subject, for the sake of a liberal education; graduate
students, who are preparing themselves to teach in
one or the other departments concerned; divinity
students, who require work of this kind as a part of
their technical training. In '^IMs "" wEy^fEfee ^grea^^
groups of students are brought into contact with the
w^ork. But as in other subjects, so also in this, the
responsibility of the university goes farther and
should include provision for courses of lectures on
subjects relating to religious education in the various
departments concerned ; correspondence courses like-
wise for. those who are unable to avail themselves of
other privileges offered in this line, as well as courses
of reading for individual students and for groups.
Perhaps, at present, nothing more should be
suggested than the work already mentioned, but
in the future there is no reason why other work


may not be included under this head. There is
something fundamentally right in the German usage
which includes religion as one of the subjects of
study from the earliest stages of the child's edu-
cational development. We may not feel that the
German plan has been successful in all particulars;
indeed, we may be quite sure that, as at present
arranged, it is the source of very great injury to
many; but no one can doubt that great good has
been accomplished, and that the sturdiness and
strength of German character today are in some
measure to be attributed to this important factor
in the education of the German youth. As the
term ''religious" is today used, it includes also the
idea of the ethical. It is therefore religion and
ethics that are to receive attention in the schedule
fo courses offered. The work proposed will,
roughly speaking, include courses in biblical lan-
guages, as well as in biblical history and literature;
courses in psychology and pedagogy, with special
reference to the religious side of the human develop-
ment; courses in history and sociology which have
to do with the progress of religion in the past and
present; courses in philosophy and science which
shall deal with the fundamental truths and problems
of religion; courses, still further, in comparative
religion in which the history and ideas of the world's
great religions will be considered. Here is oppor-
tunity almost unlimited; and when we stop to con-
sider how large a place such work deserves, and, in


comparison, the slight attention given it today, the
needs appear to be very great. Yet, as a result of
all this, much may be expected to come in the way
of larger horizon, greater sympathy for the religious
spirit, and, in any case, a higher respect for its

The duty of the university will not be performed
unless it shall make provision for religious education
on the practical side. The character and the value
of education in any realm depend upon the results
which such education is able to achieve. It is neces-
sary, however, that the practical factor in all educa-
tional work shall be emphasized side by side with
the theoretical. To this end the university should
constitute itself a laboratory in which there shall be
a working place for every member of the institution.
If religion means anything, and if rehgious educa-
tion has a function to perform, this meaning and
this function will be comprehended and defined only
as the work implied in religion and necessary to its
proper cultivation shall be performed. This is only
expressing in another form the common idea that
religion is a life which we live, or an atmosphere
which we breathe. The test of the theory pro-
pounded in the various courses of instruction which
are adapted to the needs of different classes of stu-
dents will be made only in case such a laboratory
as that to which I have referred is recognized as in
existence, and the facilities for work in that labora-
tory ar0 properly provided. Each individual church


is itseK a laboratory of religion. The university
may not call itself a church, nor is it necessary even
to organize a church within its walls; but there is
no department of research or study in a university
which does not require for its best development an
opportunity for the practical application of the truth
which it discovers or promulgates. It is the greatest
honor to an institution to have departments of pure
science thoroughly established and strongly manned;
the work in these departments being rigorously
restricted to research and instruction; every man
being far removed from the temptation to entertain
the thought of that which is called commercialism.
But, while for the sake of the work in these depart-
ments they should be thus limited by their own voli-
tion, the university may not stop here. The applica-
tion of the principles of chemistry and physics to
life in all its various phases must be sought out, and
this practical work, the work of the technical school,
is as legitimate a part of the university's organiza-
tion as that of research in pure science. Shall the
university be limited to the study of the problems
of biology as they are conducted in the several de-
partments which make up this group — problem?
of the purely theoretical kind, such as the origin of
species or the laws of heredity ? Or shall it go for-
ward and establish a school of medicine in which
the great truths of biological science are applied to
relieve human suffering? The analogy is just as
true in the case of history and sociology. Shall the


university content itself with the study of the past,
and not provide also for the encouragement of prac-
tical work in those subjects in which the present is
most vitally concerned ? And shall it restrict itself
to the study of principles of social ethics without
effort of any kind to inculcate those principles as
the basis of life and work today? The university
is itself a life and an atmosphere. Its students
and officers of instruction, as long as they remain a
part of the university, cannot cease Hving the univer-
sity life ; and this life, if it is a full and complete one,
must include the religious element. The university
should therefore constitute itself a laboratory in
which practical work is to be conducted; work
which in itself will give occupation of a kind re-
quired by those who take advantage of its facilities ;
work also through which perhaps new truth may be
discovered, or new relations of old truth — and this is
something equally advantageous ; above all, perhaps
a place in which old and new truth shall become
better known to all who may desire it. We are not
to forget that the truth in any line of thought already
known, if practically applied, will contribute greatly
to the betterment of Ufe and thought.

In connection with this laboratory, the university
will furnish opportunity for continuing the religious
life begun at home by those who have changed their
residence to the university community. It is a mis-
take for men and women entering upon university
life^o feel that they may for a period throw aside the


restraints and the duties of their former life. It is a
dangerous mistake — one that has occasioned much
suffering and great loss. With the intellectual
growth and maturity which the college life brings,
there should be a corresponding religious growth;
but this will not be obtained if one deliberately re-
moves himself from all the agencies of religious
influence. Nor can he expect to take up the reli-
gious life later at the place he dropped it. He may
make the effort to do this, but he will fail, because
his old religious habit or thought will not fit into his
new attitude of mind after three or four years of
neglect. It is as if a man of twenty- two or three, after
having added twenty pounds of flesh and grown two
or three inches taller during his college Hfe, should
undertake again to put on the clothes which he wore
when he entered college as a freshman. They will
not fit. And what does he do ? He throws them
aside; what else can he do ? The religious thought
and spirit of one stage of intellectual development will
not suit a later stage, and, being insufficient, will be
altogether discarded. This fact — for it is a fact of
life — can not be too strongly emphasized, and the
responsibility of the university is, in this particular,
all the more grave, because the home is far away;
while the church no longer exerts its influence as

The .university in its laboratory of practical
religion should encourage the development of the
altruistic spirit, for this is an essential part of the


reKgious spirit. The life of the student, as also of
the instructor, is confessedly a selfish life. He is all
the while laboring to acquire, to make himself strong.
This is right, if the correct motive underlie it all.
But there the possibiHty exists that the wrong motive
will control. To be doing something for others is
the best corrective. In settlement work and in a
thousand other ways, opportunity is open. This is
a real part of the reKgious life which may not be
neglected, and for which the university should make
ample provision.

The university naturally should take definite steps
to protect its constituency against those common
forms of vice and demoralization which prevail.
The dangers and temptations of Hfe in the large
institution and in the city are, upon the whole, no
greater than in the s^fialler institutions and in the
country. They are more numerous, perhaps, and
more evident; but this very openness takes away a
large part of therr attractiveness; and then the coun-
teracting influences are stronger, and likewise more
numerous. Still, as we all know, they are many
and deadly. What can the university do to destroy
their influence and their attractiveness? It can
hold up true ideals of hfe; it can point out the
terrible consequences of the violation of nature's
laws; it can pro\dde proper forms of recreation, and
a proper atmosphere for recreation. It can through
its staff of officers exercise a strong personal influence
on those who have intrusted themselves to its care;


it can purge its membership, whether in the case of
students or officers, of that element which by ex-
ample or direct influence is deteriorating and inferior;
it can place itself uncompromisingly on the side of
all that is good and elevating, and just as uncom-
promisingly against all that is bad and debasing.
All this it can do, and more. All this it must do,
and more, if it is to serve conscientiously the interests
of those who are within its walls.

Has the statement failed to distinguish between
the religious Uf e and reHgious education ? Perhaps so ;
for it is not always possible to make a clear distinction.
Religious education or training is not the study of
literature or of archaeology or of textual criticism,
as some of our modem bibhcal professors would
have us believe; nor is it the study of history, or of
the laws of the mind, or of the laws of the universe ;
all such study, and indeed all study and honest
thought, will contribute toward a rehgious education.
But reUgious education itself is the recognition and
the development of that within us which is more than
the body and more than the mind. It is itself a
part of that which makes up Hfe. It is something
which begins with life itself on the mother's bosom;
something which includes all that is holy and sacred
in life, as the years pass by, whether in relation to
home, or country, or church. It is something which
those who share the university Hfe may not treat
with a lack of respect, or even with indifference,
unless they stand ready, sooner or later, to pay the


cost. It is something toward which the university
can render a fundamental service by encouraging
for it a proper and intelHgent esteem. It is a part of
the whole education of a man, lacking which the
man lacks completeness, and unity, and, conse-
quently, strength.



I TAKE the liberty of inserting the word "higher,"
and thereby of Hmiting somewhat the scope of the
subject assigned me for discussion. Even with
this|Umitation, however, I have found the topic too
large and too important to receive a satisfactory
treatment within the time at my disposal this evening.
\/ There is ^(?we waste in. every effort put forth.

The character of this waste and its amountjn any
given case determine the success or failure of the
effort. This holds good in the world of nature,
and it is equally true in those realms of mind and
action in which man is supreme.

To discover this waste and to point it out in any
department of effort is, on the one hand, to criticise
and condemn much that is acceptable to others.
It means to stand in. opposition to what is actually
being done as well as to what has, under similar
circumstances, been done in the past; to oppose
usage and tradition; to lay undue emphasis upon
the evils of system; to make prominent the darker
side; in short, it means to appear to be pessimistic.
\J To discover this waste and to point it out is, on the
other hand, however, merely to discriminate between

^ Read before the Regents of the University of New York,
June 27, 1899.



that which is good and that which is not so good,
and to call attention to the latter for the sake of
separating it from the former; it is merely to cut off
that which hinders and obstructs, in order that
what remains may be relieved of what might other-
wise injure it. It means merely taking the steps
which will make the greatest success possible,
whatever may be the character of the undertaking.
And so to make an estimate of waste is a prudent
thing to do; it is the method of a business man.
To fail to make such estimate — indeed, to fail in any
respect to make account of the waste — is, therefore,
to incur the charge of imprudence and indifference.
And that the work of higher education presents a
field for such inquiry, cannot be questioned. It is a
work in which thousands of institutions are engaged ;
in which tens of thousands of instructors are em-
ployed ; in which hundreds of thousands of students
are given instruction; in which millions of dollars of
money are expended. In the relation of preparatory
training to college and university work; in the
adjustment of the college machinery; in the organi-

Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 5 of 24)