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HARVARD CHRISTIAN GROUP DISCIPLINED FOR ENFORCING CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to an article that was covered by both The Harvard Crimson and The New Boston Post. A Christian fellowship was put on probation recently for forcing a junior who served as an assistant Bible course officer to resign because she embraced homosexuality.
College officials say the group violated the Student Handbook, which says student organizations can’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but the Christian fellowship didn’t do that. Christians who belong to a Christian group told someone no longer live in a Christian way she could no longer have a leadership role in her group. For that, Harvard suspended the group.
DR. REEDER: Are you going to suspend Muslim groups if they turned down a Christian who wants to be president? Are you going to suspend a climate change group if they turn down someone for leadership who claims that climate change is a hoax and has written books on it?
HARVARD HAS GREAT CHRISTIAN LEGACY
Now, what’s really interesting, Tom, is the origin of Harvard. Here is our oldest university in the United States, all the way back to the 17th century. It was founded by a Puritan pastor by the name of John Harvard. It got started with a small amount of money he was able to leave in a very significant library.
It’s really a take-off from what happened in the Reformation where the Reformers began to institute educational institutions in order to ensure a Biblically educated clergy and access to education for the public. And so that was one of the great Reformation blessings or consequential action is the elevation of Christian education as a dynamic factor within the development of Western Civilization.
When our forefathers land on the shores of this country, the first thing they would build is a church and the next thing they would build is a school. And the school had two purposes, as did Harvard: The No. 1 purpose was to educate the next generation of clergymen and No. 2 was to make education accessible for others and, by the way, male and female.
This chapter at Harvard that is being disciplined because of its faithfulness to confessional Biblical Christianity, they’re a part of what’s called The Christian Union, which is a wonderful organization with an evangelical witness among the Ivy League schools. Most of the Ivy League schools are the products of the first Great Awakening and became focused areas of the Gospel movement in the Second Great Awakening.
As a Christian historian, I love to see the history that’s related to those schools, which they’ve gone far away from. The original motto was “Veritas,” and they later added “Truth for the Glory of Christ.” The shield of Harvard has three books on it. All three are open but two are open facing the one who views the shield and one is opened and it’s turned around. What it was saying was God has revealed truth to us three ways: the book of history, which God reveals to us who He is in Providence; the book of creation, by which God reveals Himself in all that has been created; and then the book that’s turned around, not because you can’t study it, but because you cannot ever fathom the full depths of it, is the Word of God.”
That was the original shield. Well, now you’ve got an organization that is being faithful to the book of creation that God has made man male and female with sex belonging in marriage — a creation ordinance; they are faithful to history — the building block of cultures whereby human flourishing is possible is when you have foundational institutions such as marriage, such as family, and sexuality and its practice is found within that marriage of one man, one woman for one life; and they are teaching the Word of God so that you continue to properly understand creation and providence as God makes Himself known in history and in all that he has created.
NOW HARVARD CHRISTIANS MUST MAKE A CHOICE
And, as they’re doing that, this organization that is the epitome of the founding values of the institution is now disciplined and removed. What will this organization do? Will they capitulate in order to have a place on the campus or will they, first, reason with the authorities that, “If you want a college with the free exchange of ideas, why would you marginalize and exclude the very ideas that gave birth to the college, which is a Christian faith rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins and rose again and Who has given us His Word whereby we are to live life for Him and we are attempting to live that life for Him in that He said, ‘This is my will, that is, you flee immorality and pursue sexual purity and chastity.’ Our leaders must embrace the ethic that sex belongs in marriage of one man and one woman, which is the Biblical and historical faith, but yet you’re willing to exclude that from the college campus and what you are excluding is actually a part of the foundation of the campus from the very beginning.”
TOM LAMPRECHT: The fact that they’re turning their back on Christianity, even though it’s 350 years later, is still sad. As we talked about yesterday, we’re seeing evangelical organizations turn its back on Biblical issues now within decades. What does that tell us?
ATTACKS WITHIN CHURCHES ARE COMMON AND NEED TO BE RECOGNIZED
DR. REEDER: You remember what Paul said when he left the church at Ephesus? I call Ephesus the epicenter church of the Gospel. The Gospel was radiating out of Ephesus all over Asia Minor. Churches were being planted. But when he left them, after a three-year ministry in their midst, he said, “Upon my departure, Satan will come among you” — who was the you? It was the elders, the leaders of the church — “There will rise up false teachers who teach perverse things and there will rise up false leaders who lead the disciples away from Jesus to themselves.”
That’s what always happens in organizations. The people are dependent upon godly leaders to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Remember, Satan has three strategies:
- He loves to intimidate the church.
- He loves to imitate the church. Remember the tares in the wheat.
- He loves to infiltrate the church and filtrate its people with grumbling and gossip and filtrate its leaders with false teachers and false leaders.
350 years? My goodness, it happens in 40 years, almost always. Here’s what needs to be understood: Every church in every institution has that 40 to 80-year mark in which Satan attempts to lead it into apostasy through false leaders and false teachers.
But what is the answer? Good leaders and good teachers. I praise God for my president, Peter Lillback at Westminster Seminary. I praise God for my friend who is the chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary, Ligon Duncan. I am grateful for those leaders who are willing to take the shots and say, “Not on my watch. On my watch, we’re not only going to be faithful, we’re going to take this to another level of faithfulness. We’re going to build on what we’ve been handed, not diminish what we’ve been handed.” You need to pray for your Christian leaders and we need to intentionally multiply and mobilize such Christian leaders because that is what is always necessary.
What you always look for in the church and in these institutions is a top-down leadership effectiveness and faithfulness and a bottom-up grassroots bubbling up of a love for Christ and the Gospel of grace and the two work together so that the organization remains faithful.
HARVARD ORGANIZATION, DON’T GIVE UP
Therefore, that’s what I would tell this organization at Harvard: You must not sacrifice your commitments to be accepted. You will lose any ministry that you have. You will simply become another piece of the furniture of secularism within the culture of that college. Even if you have to meet off-campus, you must remain faithful to the Word of God.
To the churches in the area, we pray for God to raise up a clarion voice that is faithful to the Word of God and His Historical Biblical Christianity to reach into that college as well as campus ministries. And it really comes down, functionally, to the matter of leadership. Ultimately, to the sovereignty of God that He would pour forth revival from Heaven, functionally, through leaders who preach, pray, evangelize and disciple the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are committed to teaching and preaching the whole counsel of God.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.