For Lent, I’m re-reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Both tree-book and e-book formats contain links to teaching resources. Here’s today’s link. Below, I’ve embedded Rick’s extended introduction to the five purposes.
This morning, Pastor Rick Warren tweeted the following:
Of the 56 Founding Fathers who signed Declaration of Independence, 29 had ministry degrees from seminary or Bible college!
— Rick Warren (@RickWarren) August 13, 2012
He didn’t cite a source for this tidbit, but it’s almost certainly wrong.
Here’s a list of the signers, together with a the college each graduated from (if any):
- George Read: Philadelphia College (later University of Pennsylvania)
- Caesar Rodney: No college
- Thomas McKean: No college
- George Clymer: No college
- Benjamin Franklin: No college
- Robert Morris: No college
- John Morton: No college
- Benjamin Rush: College of New Jersey (now Princeton), University of Edinburgh (M.D.)
- George Ross: No college
- James Smith: No college
- James Wilson: Attended the Universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh; College of Philadelphia
- George Taylor: No college
- John Adams: Harvard
- Samuel Adams: Harvard
- John Hancock: Harvard
- Robert Treat Paine: Harvard
- Elbridge Gerry: Harvard
- Richard Henry Lee: No college
- Francis Lightfoot Lee: No college
- Carter Braxton: William & Mary
- Benjamin Harrison: William & Mary
- Thomas Jefferson: William & Mary
- George Wythe: No college
- Thomas Nelson, Jr.: Cambridge
- Edward Rutledge: Oxford
- Arthur Middleton: Cambridge
- Thomas Lynch, Jr.: Cambridge
- Thomas Heyward, Jr.: No college
- Abraham Clark: No college
- John Hart: No college
- Francis Hopkinson: College of Philadelphia (later University of Pennsylvania)
- Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (later Princeton)
- John Witherspoon: Edinburgh, St. Andrews—and the only minister to sign the Declaration
- Samuel Huntington: No college
- Roger Sherman: No college
- William Williams: Harvard
- Oliver Wolcott: Yale
- Charles Carroll: Jesuits’ College at St. Omar, France; seminary in Rheims; Graduate, College of Louis the Grande; Bourges
- Samuel Chase: No college
- Thomas Stone: No college
- William Paca: Philadelphia College (later University of Pennsylvania)
I’ll assume the biographical information linked to is correct. By my count, 27 of the 56 signers attended no college. This doesn’t mean they were uneducated, of course. Wealthy families sometimes educated their children by means of private tutors or apprencticeships.
That leaves 29 signers who attended some college or another. John Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister with an appropriate “seminary” education. So, that’s 1 in Waren’s favor. But the only way he can arrive at this conclusion for the other 28 college-educated signers is by assuming that all the colleges these persons attended were either seminaries or Bible colleges. Harvard was established to avoid the danger of an “illiterate ministry,” though by the Revolution, it was tilting Unitarian and educating non-ministry students. Yale was founded to continue the Puritan tradition that Harvard was perceived to be abandoning, but it educated both ministerial and lay students. William & Mary was established to be “a certain Place of Universal Study, a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and the good arts and sciences.” Princeton was founded to train ministers, but its educational focus shifted to preparing leaders, both ministerial and lay, during the presidency of John Witherspoon. The College of Philadelphia was founded by Benjamin Franklin and cannot in any sense be construed as a “seminary” or “Bible college.” By my count, 21 of the signers attended one of these schools. The remaining 8 attended schools in either England or on the continent.
The only way Warren can reach his conclusion is by counting all these schools as seminaries or Bible colleges. Even if training ministers was the founding purpose of some of them, it wasn’t the founding purpose of all of them. And even those colleges whose founding purpose was to train ministers had broadened their purpose to train lay leadership by the time of the signing.
So, while I know and respect Rick Warren and thank God for his ministry at Saddleback, I have to completely disagree with this inaccurate tweet.
UPDATE: Chris Rodda debunked David Barton’s claim sometime ago. Here’s the video:
UPDATE 2: Here’s David Barton explaining, in part, the “29 of 56” statistic:
I’m listening to a webcast by Rick Warren about 40 Days in the Word, his church-wide campaign for spring 2012.
In his introductory remarks, Warren talked about eight laws of spiritual growth. Here they are:
- Spiritual growth is intentional: We grow by making commitments.
- …incremental: We grow step by step.
- …personal: We grow at different rates than others.
- …habitual: We grow by developing good habits.
- …relational: Spiritual growth happens in community.
- …multidimensional: Spiritual growth involves the five purposes (worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism) and the various learning styles (hearing, speaking, doing).
- …seasonal: We grow in stages.
- …incarnational: We grow by becoming more like Jesus.
What do you think?