“The Beginning of Wisdom”

***THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM episode of The Foundation of American Liberty series***

Coral Ridge Ministries (aka, D. James Kennedy Ministries) is now offering THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM (on the Bible and American education) on Truths That Transform. You can get your own DVD copy of the hour-long documentary (which includes much bonus footage, including a never-before-released discussion of Kirk Cameron interviewing Jerry Newcombe). 

Here are the first 12 minutes of this special.

Here is a portion of THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM dealing with early educators Noah Webster and Rev. William Holmes McGuffey (McGuffey’s Readers).

Here is a segment from THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM on how President Lincoln was inspired by the Bible, which helped him to learn how to read. In this segment from our documentary, Dr. Daniel Dreisbach of American University explains specifically how the Bible impacted the Gettysburg Address. In effect, Dr. Dreisbach “exegetes” this famous speech from 1863, showing how the Scriptures provided the basis for its lofty themes.

Here is a segment from THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM on Harvard

You can also see a portion of this program in a Providence Today segment….on the Christian roots of Yale. This includes commentary by Dennis Prager.

Here is a portion of THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM regarding Princeton.

Here is a snippet from THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM showing Christianity’s impact on other schools, beyond the initial colonial, mostly Puritan-influenced colleges.  This includes Catholic schools and the Tuskegee Institute.

Here is a portion of THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM on “When Schools Changed”—essentially it was when God and the Bible were kicked out of the schools.

Here is a segment from THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM on the further secularization of our schools. It is clear from the historical record that America’s founders did not intend to impose “state sanctioned atheism” in our schools. But too often today that is what we have in effect.

The overall point of THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM is that when the Bible was America’s chief textbook, there was widespread literacy.


***Here are some major points made in THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM***

The title comes from the Scriptures, which SAY that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This film aims to show what was right about early education, and how did it get that way.

At one time, America was among the best educated nations in the world. James Madison of Virginia, a key architect of the Constitution, SAID, “A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.” 

The first school law passed in America was in Boston in the 1640s, and it was nicknamed, “The Old Deluder Satan Act.” The law BEGINS, “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times.” Therefore, schools were to be systematically established so that the children could read and write for themselves.

The Puritans DREADED to “leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust,” so they started a school of higher learning that more ministers of the Gospel could be produced. That was Harvard, named after a donor, Rev. John Harvard.

All of the original colleges and universities were created by Christians for Christian purposes. Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, and so on. These schools set the standard for education throughout the land.

The only Ivy League school that was not explicitly Christian in its founding was Cornell which was established in the 1840s—more than 200 years after Harvard.

One of the guests in our program is the Jewish scholar Dennis Prager, founder of PragerU. He MENTIONS this fact about the third oldest college in North America: “The insignia of Yale University is in Hebrew. It’s the mantle or the breastplate that the high priest of Israel wore, Urim veha-Tummim, and it’s in Hebrew.… Do you know how immersed you had to be in the Bible to know that, and if you were not a Jew to know those words, Urim veha-Tummim? And that’s, to this day, the insignia of Yale University.”

In 1789, CATHOLICS founded Georgetown University in what is now Washington, DC and in 1842, they founded Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Even today, Catholic schools in the inner-city are legendary in throwing a lifeline for children in need.

Another guest in the documentary is Joyce Burges, who co-founded, with her husband, the National Black Home Education League. She SAYS, “Booker T. Washington was a Christian man, and when he founded Tuskegee Institute he shared those Christian principles with the students.  As a matter of fact, be believed in the broom, the Bible, and the book, meaning, education, chores, and the Word of God.”

Education for the masses, using Bible-based books like The New England Primer and McGuffey’s Readers (the earliest versions) helped create a well-educated populace.

Using Mike Huckabee as the voice of Thomas Jefferson, we close the DOCUMENTARY with this statement from our third president: “If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

Guests in the program include Dennis Prager, Peter Lillback, Os Guinness, Eric Metaxas, Bill Federer, Darrell White, Travis Witt, Daniel Dreisbach, Father Leon Hutton, Joyce Burges, Marshall Foster, and Walter Williams. 

Pictured from L to R: Peter Lillback, Bill Federer, Daniel Dreisbach, Joyce Burges, Marshall Foster, Os Guinness, Eric Metaxas.

Around 1800, after almost 200 years of strong Christian influence in the schools, John Adams remarked that to find an illiterate man in New England was as rare as a comet.

How far we have fallen. My prayer is that God would revive the works of His hand in this nation.


For more information on the entire “Foundation of American Liberty” series by Dr. Jerry Newcombe, executive director of Providence Forum, please go to here.

For short snippets from the Foundation series, as well as commentaries from Dr. Peter Lillback, founding president of Providence Forum, please see our Providence Forum youtube channel.

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