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When Liberty University was originally founded by Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College, its motto was “Knowledge Aflame.” That motto still exists today, embossed on our university seal.
In the ancient Greco-Roman world, fire was an important symbol. Fire provided warmth for a home, heat for a stove, and flames for a burning sacrifice, and it was also used to refine precious metals. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”
Fire tests things. So does the Word of God.
No confessing evangelical or Christian institution, be it a college, university, non-profit, or even a church, can ever fulfill its mission or purpose apart from the Word of God. That’s because none of them can have true knowledge without the knowledge of God.
Our nation’s oldest elite universities — Harvard, Yale, and Princeton — were once firmly grounded in the Christian faith and rooted in the Word of God. Over time each one of them abandoned the sacred Scriptures, along with their Christian mission, in favor of secularism, believing it could deliver on its promises.
Today these institutions have lost much of their elite reputation in America because they have become caricatures of modern academics, replete with radical indoctrination and leftist deconstruction. As the saying goes, “The patients are now running the asylum.”
During the 1980s, my dear friend, Dr. Falwell, Sr., went on a lecture circuit to Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth in the northeast with a message titled, “Who Are These Fundamentalists?” He spoke on behalf of the Moral Majority. His purpose, in the words of Cal Thomas, was “to show that our views are intellectually defensible…” While he was not often liked by the liberal crowd, he had earned their respect.
Everything we are witnessing today in American universities and the public school system is both predictable and preventable.
We must stand on Biblical truth if we are to strengthen the foundations that remain. That is why we are breaking ground on the new Jerry Falwell Center: Inspiring Champions for Christ — not just as a legacy to our founder, but to reinforce those foundations.
At Liberty University, we believe that the traditional aim of a scholastic institution is one of deep spiritual and intellectual examination. In short, “Knowledge Aflame.” It is in that crucible of examination, guided by the Word of God, that students may ultimately test God’s good and perfect will (Romans 12:2). We teach students to be Champions for Christ in the classroom so that they can be Champions for Christ in the world beyond. And by God’s grace they shall lead faithfully.
Jerry Prevo is the President of Liberty University.