Tag Archives: universities

Berea College and UVa: Two vastly different centers of theological excellence


Radical egalitarian hotbed Berea College. Brilliant theological think-tank UVa (University of Virginia).

Berea was founded in slave Kentucky in 1855 as an integrated school committed to the equality of all in God’s sight. It has survived to today with its vision intact, while the institution it modeled itself on, Oberlin College, now has no idea who Charles Finney was or how Christianity suffused its own founding (I know; I attended Oberlin for two years in the mid-1980s).

UVa was founded by the Deist Thomas Jefferson as a secular institution, with a desire to become a place of open dialogue, rather than a school under the thumb of a Christian denomination. For that very reason, perhaps, the doors of its religious studies department opened to some of the best and brightest Christian thinkers in the country, alongside scholars of other religions, and this secular school is now a regular Christian theological think-tank.

OK, I’ll admit it: I did not come up with the bright idea of digging into the history of these two schools and writing a stellar article about them. But Jason Byassee did. Here’s what Jason discovered about the history and present power of these two very different but equally kingdom-serving institutions.

Thanks, Jason, for another superlative article.

Evangelicalism–a basic summary–part II


This is a continuation of this article. Part III may be found here.

Edwards and the Awakening

The Great Awakening began in November of 1734, when Jonathan Edwards, a Massachusetts pastor-theologian, became concerned by a spreading tendency among Connecticut River Valley Christians to rely on their own abilities in seeking salvation from God. In response, Edwards preached a two-sermon series on “Justification by Faith Alone.” And in what Edwards believed was “a surprising work of God,” the people in Northampton and the surrounding area were, he said, “seized with a deep concern about their eternal salvation” so that “scarcely a single person in the whole town was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.”

Edwards organized small groups to encourage those experiencing such concern, and soon hundreds were converted and renewed. The revival spilled over into 1735, touching some 25 Massachusetts and Connecticut communities before its intensity began to wane that spring.

Meanwhile, back in England, several students at Oxford University, including the brothers John and Charles Wesley and their friend George Whitefield, founded a group that the undergraduates derisively called the “Holy Club.” Continue reading