This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 27, 2021:
Harvard University has completed the circle. Founded as a religious educational institution in 1636 (and named for Pastor John Harvard), the school trained its students to become pastors with a Puritan perspective. The school’s original motto was, “Truth for Christ and the Church.”
On Thursday, the school discarded any remaining links to that past by unanimously naming Greg Epstein as chief chaplain, who will oversee 30 other chaplains of various disciplines and traditions.
Epstein received his ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2005. He also holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Michigan as well as a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
The author of Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, Epstein describes his role: “I combine Jewish culture with the belief that this [observable] world is all we have.” Because so many incoming students hold the same view — about 40 percent of them consider themselves as either agnostic (not sure about God) or atheist (sure that He doesn’t exist) — Epstein’s role is to “minister” and “converse” with them about how to become a good person without recognizing the role of the Creator:
There is a rising group of people who no longer identify with any religious tradition but still experience a real need for conversation and support around what it means to be a good human and live an ethical life.
He told the New York Times that “we don’t look to a god for answers. We are each other’s answers.”
That means that in his role as counselor without God, he (according to the Times) “frequently meets individually with students who are struggling with issues both personal and theological, counseling them on managing anxiety about summer jobs, family feuds, the pressures of social media and the turbulence endemic to college life.” He does this through his “positive belief in tolerance, community, morality, and good without having to rely on the guidance of a higher being, according to the flyleaf of his book ‘Good Without God.’”
In this sinful and declining world, Epstein is looking in all the wrong places for answers to questions such as these. The Apostle Paul explained in his letter to the Romans (Chapter 3):
For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.
He added that every individual is a sinner, without exception:
Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes….
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
That understanding undergirded the beliefs of our nation’s Founders as they strove to build a limited government that would allow maximum freedom for citizens whom they considered to be sovereign, instead of government. “Our Constitution,” wrote President John Adams, “was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any another.”
In his Farewell Address, President George Washington was clear:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports….
Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.
Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure [a “humanist rabbi”?], reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It may fairly be stated, then, that any deliberate intentional removal of God as creator of the universe from the instruction of young minds is an attack on the very foundations of the American Republic. King David asked, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
David provided the answer: God will not long be mocked by those posing as chaplains without acknowledging Him:
The LORD is in His holy temple.
The LORD is on His heavenly throne.
His eyes are watching closely;
they examine the sons of men.
The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked;
His soul hates the lover of violence.
On the wicked He will rain down fiery coals and sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their portion.
For the LORD is righteous; He loves justice.
The upright will see His face.
“Chaplain” Epstein, when he comes face to face with his Creator, is going to have some serious explaining to do.