*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 17th of June 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
So much going on for today’s show. Let’s dig in.
There are a lot of people and places, and events in history. I think I said recently that I thought I’d have a year of this show during my first year. And then the more I dug and read, the more I thought, “well, I guess we never have to end the show?”
Part of this fun is that there are characters who have slipped through the cracks for me. This show allows me to fill in some gaps- and today is one of those days.
Let me ask you: are you familiar with Mark Hopkins, a 19th-century college president, and theologian in New England? Maybe you remember his uncle Samuel, a friend of Jonathan Edwards and a famous “new Light” preacher and abolitionist.
Maybe if you are into presidential trivia, you know that Mark Jacobs was the subject of a famous quote from President Garfield, who said:
“I am not willing that this discussion should close without mentioning the value of a true teacher. Give me a log hut with only a simple bench, Mark Hopkins on one end and I on the other, and you may have all the buildings, apparatus, and libraries without him.”
Hopkins taught Garfield as a professor of moral philosophy and rhetoric at Williams after graduating from the college in 1824. When the college was looking for another President during a series of failed Presidents, the senior class suggested that their favorite professor, Hopkins, be named president. The board wasn’t thrilled but gave the 30-something prof a shot. He would be President from 1836 to his death on this day in 1887.
His influence at the college and in New England was enormous. When he died, a 28-page book was compiled from the obituaries written in local and foreign newspapers by friends and famous folk.
Consider this from the Albany Journal:
“the sudden death of ex-President Mark Hopkins of Williams College at Williamstown today ends one of the most remarkable and useful careers in the records of our country. Dr. Hopkins ranks among the foremost American Thinkers as a writer of religious and philosophical works. Those who knew him cannot speak without emotion of the charm and beauty of his private life.”
And it goes on and on like that… and a special note was made on his love of teaching and teaching the faith. He was also a Congregationalist minister and a Christian apologist. Get this, he was a fan of none other than Samuel Butler (from yesterday’s show!), and I found a blurb on Hopkins and Butler from none other than 1517’s John Warwick Montgomery. Hopkins was a popularizer of the legal approach to Christian apologetics (what’s that, you ask? Well, here at 1517, we have a podcast called Christianity on Trial with John Warwick Montgomery, and this fall, there will be some new episodes with Dr. Montgomery and a familiar voice).
Hopkins delivered a series of lectures at the Lowell Institute in Massachusetts published in 1846 as “Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity.” In these, he used contemporary legal standards for discerning truth instead of scientific standards (which are but one way to approach truth).
Mark Hopkins is not a household name. Even people called “the foremost philosophic thinker since Jonathan Edwards” and the “crowning glory of our country” can fade over time. But his life and work pointed beyond himself to the truth he believed could be discerned and taught, which he spent his life doing.
Mark Hopkins, educator, pastor, and university President, died on this day in 1887. Born in 1802, he was 85 years old.
The Last Word for today comes from the lectionary for today from Galatians 3:
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 17th of June 2022, brought to you by 1517 at 1517. org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Garfield's include president James A., creator of Magic the Gathering Richard, and Garfield the cat that loves lasagna and hates Mondays. he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who brought up Garfield, so I could tell you to check out the website garfieldminusgarfield.net. It is comic gold. I am Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.