This fall Harvard’s Class of 2018 will gather in historic Memorial Church for their freshman convocation. Present will be the icons of religious tradition. Absent will be references to the Christian principles upon which the institution was founded. It was John Harvard, known as a passionate preacher, who died and left his earthly possessions to be used for the training of Christian ministers. Such a notion is mostly an embarrassment to the college today.
Today, the only vestiges of what John Harvard envisioned are architectural or symbolic. Emerson Hall, best known as the centerpiece for the movie Love Story, is home to the college’s Philosophy Department. Chiseled into the limestone above its entrance are these words from Psalm 8, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him.” When you look carefully at the historic Harvard seal, two interesting images can be found. The first word to catch your attention will likely be veritas, Latin for “truth.” More subtle in older renderings, and completely removed in the modern design, are the additional Latin words that surround the word veritas which are christo et ecclesiae. A literal translation of the whole seal reads . . . “Truth, for Christ and the church.”
A similar story could be told about many universities across the nation. Johann Kepler, the founder of physical astronomy, said that studying the universe is simply “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” These words are a permanent part of the chemistry building on the campus of the University of Florida. Most students walk past this remnant of history and think nothing of it – a discerning TFA graduate and soon-to-be UF Senior (Amanda Grace Whitaker), however, noticed and sent me the quote.
In II Corinthians 3 the Apostle Paul writes these words, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” This verse serves as a profound reminder that the power of the Gospel is not transmitted through the decaying structures of human institutions, but through the profound transformation that happens in the human heart. Our highest calling as parents is to teach our children the Truth of Scripture. Deuteronomy 11 challenges us to teach God’s word “to our children, talking about them when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.”
At The First Academy, we believe our distinguishing characteristic is partnering with our families to fulfill the Deuteronomy mandate. It is our goal to provide an intentional process whereby each student becomes more fully conformed to the likeness of Christ – we call this Spiritual Formation. We realize that we cannot do it alone. For this vision to be realized, there must be a commitment in the home to teach and treasure God’s word. For this vision to become a reality, each family must relentlessly pursue a deeper understanding of Jesus, connect with other Christians in a meaningful community, and find ways to share God’s love with a lost world.
We want to leave more behind than words carved into stone. We want to partner with you to transform the lives of young men and women who will leave TFA with a faith that is firm and a calling that is clear. We want their lives to be a letter, a declaration, and a testimony to the grace of Jesus Christ. If I can help connect you with more resources to strengthen your family, please give me a call at (407) 206-8601.