The effects of American fundamentalism on educating towards a virtuous citizenry : the case of C. I. Scofield and Philadelphia Biblical University.
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Basie, John D.
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From the founding of Harvard in 1636 until the end of nineteenth century, the old-time college model of higher education was pervasive throughout the fledgling American republic. Christian morality was foundational to the curriculum as was the formation of virtuous citizens who would consistently contribute to the common good of American society through the pursuit of the culture-forming professions of medicine, law, and the ministry. Although evangelization and spiritual growth were viewed as important goals of the old-time college, they were not the primary educational aims. By contrast, Bible institutes placed such emphases above other educational aims. These institutions were founded by conservative evangelicals in large part as a defensive reaction to modernist-informed liberal Protestantism beginning at the end of the nineteenth century. C.I. Scofield was Philadelphia Biblical University’s primary founder and first president. His dispensational leanings were central to the institution’s educational aims from the founding of the institution in 1914 (then called Philadelphia School of the Bible) to the 1950s and through the present. There are two significant consequences of Scofield’s dispensationalism that are relevant to PBU. First, Scofield’s dispensationalist leanings were central to his educational philosophy and in the way the early PBU curriculum represented a break from the old-time college model of higher education. Instead of adopting the old-time college philosophy of forming virtuous citizens whose focus would hold together an earthly as well as a heavenly telos, Scofield intended to form citizens of heaven only. Second, Scofieldian dispensationalism at PBU was stronger in the 1950s than it is now. As the institution moved from that decade into the 1970s, 1990s, and finally to the present, its classic historic Scofieldian-dispensational identity has diminished while the characteristics that suggest it is increasingly committed to the common good and forming virtuous citizens of earth—not just citizens of heaven—have strengthened.