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    3. Educational: Battle Creek College

    The Battle Creek college came to birth (1875) soon after Ellen White’s earliest appeals to the church to expand the witness of the three angels’ messages to foreign countries:POSDAI 70.1

    “Young men should be qualifying themselves by becoming familiar with other languages, that God may use them as mediums to communicate His saving truth to those of other nations….Missionaries are needed to go to other nations to preach the truth….Every opportunity should be improved to extend the truth to other nations.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 204-206 (1871)

    While in California in 1874 in a vision an angel guide said to Mrs. White:POSDAI 70.2

    “You are entertaining too limited ideas of the work for this time. You are trying to plan the work so that you can embrace it in your arms. You must take broader views. Your light must not be put under a bushel or under a bed, but on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house. Your house is the world.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 208-209. (1874)

    Mrs. White and her husband were in Battle Creek, Michigan, for the dedication of the new college January 4, 1875. The day before, January 3, she was given an historic vision which opened before her mind the great outreach of the message to all the world. The college was to help implement the outreach of this message. W. C. White, her son, wrote of the remarks that she made concerning the college and its work as follows:POSDAI 70.3

    “In her remarks she spoke with great emphasis upon the necessity of our taking broader views regarding the work which God had given us to do. She dwelt upon the necessity of our laying much broader plans for the education of home and foreign workers. She said that our movements in sending workers to foreign fields were altogether too slow and inadequate. She told us that in vision she had seen, in different parts of the world, companies studying the Bible, finding there the promise of Christ’s soon return to redeem His people, and also the facts regarding the sacredness of the Seventh-day Sabbath. She saw little companies here and there keeping the Sabbath without knowing that there were any other Sabbathkeepers in the world; and she told us that as we heard of such companies, it would be our duty to send experienced ministers to labor among them, teaching them the way of truth more fully.”—The Review and Herald, February 10, 1938.

    “At the time when this vision was given, we had one publishing house, and were contemplating the establishment of a second one in California. We had one health institution, and were about to dedicate our first college. It was several years before we had presses of our own in Switzerland and Norway, and ten years before we had work of any kind in Australia, the country that was especially mentioned in the relation of the vision.

    “The rapid growth of our work in the United States, and the beginning of evangelistic work in Scandinavia, England, and on the Continent, absorbed the attention of our people and taxed their resources to the uttermost….

    “During the ten years following the vision, the Pacific Press in Oakland, a sanitarium in St. Helena, and two academies—one in Healdsburg, California, the other in South Lancaster, Massachusetts—were established. At the same time new conferences were being organized, covering nearly all the unoccupied territory of the United States.”—The Review and Herald, February 17, 1938.

    In the Battle Creek College there was to be an overriding spiritual purpose in the school and every effort made to show that science and religion were compatible:POSDAI 71.1

    “Our school is to take a higher position in an educational point of view than any other institution of learning, by opening before the young nobler views, aims, and objects in life, and educating them to have a correct knowledge of human duty and eternal interests. The great object in the establishment of our college was to give correct views, showing the harmony of science and Bible religion.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 220

    Note the last sentence especially. It is truly significant—“The great object….etc. showing the harmony of science and Bible religion.” This certainly has meaning to our schools today in this age of science and of disguised contempt of Bible religion.POSDAI 71.2

    Mrs. White wrote about the objectives of the school in a missionary vein:POSDAI 71.3

    “I was shown that our college was designed of God to accomplish the great work of saving souls. It is only when brought under full control of the Spirit of God that the talents of an individual are rendered useful to the fullest extent. The precepts and principles of religion are the first steps in the acquisition of knowledge, and lie at the very foundation of true education. Knowledge and science must be vitalized by the Spirit of God in order to serve the noblest purposes. The Christian alone can make the right use of knowledge. Science, in order to be fully appreciated, must be viewed from a religious standpoint. The heart which is ennobled by the grace of God can best comprehend the real value of education. The attributes of God, as seen in His created works, can be appreciated only as we have a knowledge of the Creator. In order to lead the youth to the fountain of truth, to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, the teachers must not only be acquainted with the theory of the truth, but must have an experimental knowledge of the way of holiness. Knowledge is power when united with true piety.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:427.

    “When I was shown by the angel of God that an institution should be established for the education of our youth I saw that it would be one of the greatest means ordained of God for the salvation of souls.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:419

    Note also Testimonies for the Church 4:431, 432:POSDAI 72.1

    “God devised and established this college, designing that it should be molded by high religious interests and that every year unconverted students who are sent to Battle Creek should return to their homes as soldiers of the cross of Christ.”

    And there was to be a recognition of God’s sovereignty and control, a perception of a divine plan of education different from the world’s. In Volume 6, page 191 Mrs. White wrote, “Our schools must be conducted under the supervision of God.”—Testimonies for the Church 6:191.POSDAI 72.2

    But God’s design for educating youth was only vaguely conceived by most of our pioneer educators.POSDAI 72.3

    Mrs. White described situations that would prevail in the operation of the school by the faculty if spiritual objectives and ideals were maintained. And it cannot be said that God was really the supervisor of Battle Creek College until this objective was perceived and implemented.POSDAI 72.4

    Mrs. White wrote in Vol. 3, p. 157, three years before Battle Creek College was formally opened:POSDAI 72.5

    “Moral, intellectual, and physical culture should be combined in order to have well-developed, well-balanced men and women.”

    The body was to be trained and developed also in soul—not just the mind.POSDAI 73.1

    She recommended that the brethren build a school near Battle Creek in a rural area setting where agricultural and trade pursuits might be a part of the curriculum, and the school would be away from city influences which might tend to corrupt the soul. The brethren were not unwilling, they just did not perceive—so they bought Erastus Hussey’s 13 acre estate an N. Washington St. in the city of Battle Creek across from the Sanitarium. This was purchased as the site for the school. A. W. Spalding wrote of this as follows:POSDAI 73.2

    “The location of the college in the city, even though on its outskirts, was not in accordance with Mrs. White’s ideas and designs. She advocated that it be located in the country, on a farm, where agriculture might be made the basic industry in a group of industrial enterprises. In this she was supported by Professor Bell; but the main drivers of the enterprise could not see so far into the planned educational reform, and decided upon this beautiful but restricted location opposite the sanitarium. They quickly curtailed their purchase by selling off five or six acres on the south and west for residence lots, retaining but seven acres in the campus. When the decision to purchase was made, Mrs. White wept.”—Captains of the Host, p. 446.

    “We are reformers”, wrote Ellen White. “We desire that our children should study to the best advantage. In order to do this, employment should be given them which will call the muscles into exercise. Daily, systematic labor should constitute a part of the education of the youth, even at this late period. Much can now be gained by connecting labor with schools. In following this plan the students will realize elasticity of spirit and vigor of thought, and will be able to accomplish more mental labor in a given time than they could by study alone. And they can leave school with their constitutions unimpaired and with strength and courage to persevere in any position in which the providence of God may place them.

    “Because time is short, we should work with diligence and double energy. Our children may never enter college, but they can obtain an education in those essential branches which they can turn to a practical use and which will give culture to the mind and bring its powers into use. Very many youth who have gone through a college course have not obtained that true education that they can put to practical use. They may have the name of having a collegiate education, but in reality they are only educated dunces.”—Testimonies for the Church 3:159

    Battle Creek College was to be a place where education took shape in the reconstruction of human beings in God’s physical, moral and mental image. In an article titled “Our College” (1880) Ellen White wrote:POSDAI 74.1

    “God designs that the college at Battle Creek shall reach a higher standard of intellectual and moral culture than any other institution of the kind in our land. The youth should be taught the importance of cultivating their physical, mental, and moral powers, that they may not only reach the highest attainments in science, but, through a knowledge of God, may be educated to glorify Him; that they may develop symmetrical characters, and thus be fully prepared for usefulness in this world and obtain a moral fitness for the immortal life.

    “I wish I could find language to express the importance of our college. All should feel that it is one of God’s instrumentalities to make Himself known to man.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:425.

    For 25 years or more Battle Creek College struggled on. Then calls came from the Lord to decentralize the concentrated work of the church in one town and move out of Battle Creek. The first institution to respond was Battle Creek College.POSDAI 74.2

    Mrs. White had spoken at the 1901 General Conference session (April 12) as follows:POSDAI 74.3

    “Some may be stirred about the transfer of the school from Battle Creek. But they need not be. This move is in accordance with God’s design for the school before the institution was established. But men could not see how this could be done. There were so many who said that the school must be in Battle Creek. Now we say that it must be somewhere else. The best thing that can be done is to dispose of the school’s buildings here as soon as possible. Begin at once to look for a place where the school can be conducted on right lines. God wants us to place our children where they will not see and hear that which they should not see or hear. God wants his church to take up the stones, to remove the rubbish, to clear the highway for the coming of the Lord. He wants them to prepare to meet their God.”—The General Conference Bulletin, April 14, 1901, p. 216

    The move was to Berrien Springs, Michigan, to a farm of 272 acres on the banks of the Saint Joseph river. Arthur L. Spalding wrote of the significance of this move to the future of SDA education as follows:POSDAI 74.4

    “It was a turning point in the educational history of Seventh-day Adventists. The vision and the courage and the resourcefulness which were demanded for this enterprise, breaking the bonds of custom and inertia, starting out on exploratory paths of education, breaking trail for adventurous and purposeful teaching, were worthy of all emulation by the rest of the church’s schools. And to no little degree that course was taken.

    “Avondale, in Australia, had first shown the way. Under the impulsion of Mrs. White it went into the wilderness, hewed down the giant trees, turned the virgin soil, built its dwellings and its halls of learning and its modest temple of worship, and sought to follow the oracles of God in education. Berrien Springs had in some respects a harder task, because it had to break the ties which sentiment and habit had formed to hold it to the city and the headquarters of the church. It had to forsake the prestige which it had gained in Battle Creek, and to seek for and train a new order of students, students willing and eager to round out their education by uniting the hand to the head and the heart. Emmanuel Missionary College broke the fetters which were in one degree and another binding the educational work of Seventh-day Adventists to the chariot of popular education.

    “Its influence was not lost. The educational system of Seventh-day Adventists was liberalized and enlightened as a result of its example. Even in those institutions which kept their seats and their ideas there appeared new thinking and new impulses toward the right. And some schools followed suit. Healdsburg College, in California, the second founded by Seventh-day Adventists, and Southern Junior College, in Tennessee, were moved within a few years to seek more favorable locations.”—Christ’s Last Legion, p. 62

    This historical background is a part of the whole picture of providence and should be evaluated in any study of the future of SDA schools.POSDAI 75.1

    In the college at Battle Creek there would be real discipline in the school. This was an object as well as a guiding principle. She wrote in Fundamentals of Christian Education, 64, as follows:POSDAI 75.2

    “It is the boast of the present age that never before did men possess so great facilities for the acquirement of knowledge, or manifest so general an interest in education. Yet despite this vaunted progress, there exists an unparalleled spirit of insubordination and recklessness in the rising generation; mental and moral degeneracy are well-nigh universal. Popular education does not remedy the evil. The lax discipline in many institutions of learning has nearly destroyed their usefulness, and in some cases rendered them a curse rather than a blessing. This fact has been seen and deplored, and earnest efforts have been made to remedy the defects in our educational system. There is urgent need of schools in which the youth may be trained to habits of self-control, application, and self-reliance, of respect for superiors and reverence for God. With such training, we might hope to see the young prepared to honor their Creator and to bless their fellow men.

    “It was to secure these objects that our own college at Battle Creek was founded. But those who endeavor to accomplish such a work find that their undertaking is fraught with many and grave difficulties. The evil which underlies all others, and which often counteracts the efforts of the best instructors, is to be found in the home discipline. Parents do not see the importance of shielding their children from the gilded temptations of this age. They do not exercise proper control themselves, and hence do not rightly appreciate its value.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, 64

    Battle Creek College was not to be a “run of the mill” educational operation.POSDAI 76.1

    “The Lord opened before me the necessity of establishing a school at Battle Creek that should not pattern after any school in existence. We were to have teachers who would keep their souls in the love and fear of God. Teachers were to educate in spiritual things, to prepare a people to stand in the trying crisis before us; but there has been a departure from God’s plan in many ways. The amusements are doing more to counteract the working of the Holy Spirit than anything else, and the Lord is grieved.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, 221.

    Mrs. White foresaw the dangers of turning away from God’s plan for the school. In 1882 after the Battle Creek College had been in operation about seven years, she wrote:POSDAI 76.2

    “There is danger that our college will be turned away from its original design. God’s purpose has been made known, that our people should have an opportunity to study the sciences and at the same time to learn the requirements of His word. Biblical lectures should be given; the study of the Scriptures should have the first place in our system of education.

    “Students are sent from a great distance to attend the college at Battle Creek for the very purpose of receiving instruction from the lectures on Bible subjects. But for one or two years past there has been an effort to mold our school after other colleges. When this is done, we can give no encouragement to parents to send their children to Battle Creek College. The moral and religious influences should not be put in the background. In times past, God has worked with the efforts of the teachers, and many souls have seen the truth and embraced it, and have gone to their homes to live henceforth far God, as the result of their connection with the college. As they saw that Bible study was made a part of their education, they were led to regard it as a matter of greater interest and importance.”—Testimonies for the Church 5:21, 22

    Ellen White recognized that the preparation of ministers was a prime objective:POSDAI 77.1

    “Too little attention has been given to the education of young men for the ministry. This was the primary object to be secured in the establishment of the college. In no case should this be ignored or regarded as a matter of secondary importance. For several years, however, but few have gone forth from that institution prepared to teach the truth to others. Some who came at great expense, with the ministry in view, have been encouraged by the teachers to take a thorough course of study which would occupy a number of years, and, in order to obtain means to carry out these plans, have entered the canvassing field and given up all thought of preaching. This is entirely wrong. We have not many years to work, and teachers and principal should be imbued with the Spirit of God and work in harmony with His revealed will instead of carrying out their own plans. We are losing much every year because we do not heed what God has said upon these points.”—Testimonies for the Church 5:21, 22.

    The servant of the Lord described the perils that face the school (Note Volume 4, pages 649 to 653).POSDAI 77.2

    It was also a matter of concern that the institution should become too large (Testimonies for the Church 6:211-212) with too many buildings, and that too much study should be required (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 353-354), and that the teachers would fail to recognize the Holy Spirit’s workings (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 363).POSDAI 77.3

    The hope was expressed, however, that if the educational work should err away from God’s purpose that there would always be a door of hope open to the leaders if they would return to the Lord’s instruction.POSDAI 77.4

    “Though in many respects our institutions of learning have swung into worldly conformity, though step by step they have advanced toward the world, they are prisoners of hope. Fate has not so woven its meshes about their workings that they need to remain helpless and in uncertainty. If they will listen to His voice and follow in His ways, God will correct and enlighten them and bring them back to their upright position of distinction from the world. When the advantage of working upon Christian principles is discerned, when self is hid in Christ, much greater progress will be made; for each worker will feel his own human weakness; he will supplicate for the wisdom and grace of God, and will receive the divine help that is pledged for every emergency.

    “Opposing circumstances should create a firm determination to overcome them. One barrier broken down will give greater ability and courage to go forward. Press in the right direction, and make a change, solidly, intelligently. Then circumstances will be your helpers and not your hindrances. Make a beginning. The oak is in the acorn.”—Testimonies for the Church 6:145.

    (See “Proper Education” Testimonies for the Church 3:131-160; “Our College” Testimonies for the Church 5:21-36; “The Needs of Educational Reform” Testimonies for the Church 6:126-140; “Hindrances to Reform” Testimonies for the Church 6:141-141; also Testimonies for the Church 6:152-167.)POSDAI 78.1

    These are the historical backgrounds and circumstances that obtained in the beginnings and growth of our three original Battle Creek Institutions. In Section I-IV Mrs. White’s counsels and statements concerning the concepts of the Lord’s plans and purposes and objectives for the institutions built and operated by the church are set forth.POSDAI 78.2

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