Harvard, Oxford and Princeton: Were they established for Jesus Christ?

Harvard Most of the prestigious and Ivy League Universities were once established for Christ and His Church. Once! Their mottos’ and emblems still bear witness to those ‘once’ days. Now Christ and His Church are mocked at these very institutions. What shall we do now? Sakshi Research Team takes a look at the mottos’ of Harvard, Oxford and Princeton.

Harvard University: By Mark D Roberts  

When I was in college and grad school, the Harvard seal was omnipresent. On library chairs and notebooks, on sweatshirts and university signs, wherever I turned, there was VE-RI-TAS, following my every move like the eye of God. Harvard was all about veritas, Latin for “truth.”  

But it wasn’t until I was well into my college experience that I learned the truth about the Harvard seal and the motto emblazoned upon it. Yes, the motto did contain the word veritas. But on the official official university seal veritas didn’t stand alone. It was joined to three other Latin words: christo et ecclesiae.

The whole motto translated into English read: “Truth . . . for Christ and the church.”  

This official motto, adopted by the university in 1692, was consistent with Harvard’s original vision for its educational purpose.

Among the “Rules and Precepts” of 1646 was the following: Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3). 

Needless to say, somewhere in the last three centuries Harvard lost touch with its primary purpose, though the student body continues to include a healthy number of faithful Christians. The predominant view among most Harvardians these days, however, would be that truth is relative, and that there is no certain truth upon which to base one’s life. The idea that the pursuit of truth is for the sake of Christ and the church would considered an curious antique of a premodern (or pre-postmodern) age. Though I spent eight years in residence at Harvard, I still believe that there is such a thing as VERITAS, as Truth with a capital ‘T.’

Moreover, I even believe that human beings should pursue such Truth for the sake of Christ and the church. This pretty much explains why I do what I do, as a pastor, a professor, and a student of Scripture. In fact, I believe that with the governors of Harvard in 1646, that Christ is “the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.” Yes, I may be a bit of an antique. But sometimes antiques are worth whole lot more than newfangled contraptions. When it comes to truth, I think the founding leaders of my alma mater got it right. Truth, rightly understood, is indeed “for Christ and the church.” 

(Copyright Mark D Roberts. First published in www.markdroberts.com) 

Princeton University: Flag, Shield, and Motto (From University Website) 

The flag of the University displays the school's shield and motto. The open book is inscribed with "Vet. Nov. Testamentum" (Old and New Testament). The motto, "Dei Sub Numine Viget," translates as "Under the Protection of God She Flourishes." 

Oxford University: Motto, a reminder (http://www.oxfordinscriptions.com/oxford_university.htm) 

The motto of the University of Oxford serves as a reminder – if one is needed – that the University's origins were sacred rather than secular. The motto appears on the open pages of a book on the University coat of arms and is to be found on most University buildings and as part of the coat of arms of the Oxford University Press. The words Dominus illuminatio mea (The Lord is my light) are the first words of Psalm 27.

In fact, most of the Universities up to the 1960’s were established with a Christian motto. Their chapels bear witness to that. What shall we do now?



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  1. Yale was established by ministers as they saw decline in the standards in morality in Harvard. They also have a motto that you would see everywhere around the Yale. With Hebrew (Urim V’Tumim) and in Latin (LUX ET VERITAS) inscribed in them, meaning “Light and Truth.” I recognize Light as the highest value found in the Old Testament and Truth in the New Testament. I asked my Yale guide after the tour, “Would the founder of the Yale be happy with the way Yale is moving forward. He replied “probably not.”

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