Excerpts from President Nathan M. Pusey’s comments at the September 28, 1966, convocation of Harvard Divinity School

It was decided one hundred fifty years ago at Harvard that preparation for the professional ministry demanded something more than undergraduate liberal learning followed by some desultory reading under the guidance of an active clergyman. But what was this to be? A study of the sources and history of the Christian faith more intensive and specialized than a general undergraduate education could provide? This of course. But somehow it had to be more. The spirit of that age, which prompted the founding of schools of mechanic arts, together with manifest human need, demanded that it had also to be useful learning—a kind of learning, not wholly gained from books, that a man could take with him into the world to help him in the care and cure of souls. The notion was hard to refute, but with its acceptance, trouble began. Granted the reasonableness of the claim, just what kind of learning, precisely, should this be? There has been tension over this issue in the School since its beginning.

Despite the School’s earnest efforts to provide a more professional training, the day before the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary an intemperate critic told a Boston audience that the faculty of this School “feed their students morning, noon, and night on nothing but theology”; and he went on to charge that the members of the faculty of that time were not at all interested in “imbuing men with the pastoral spirit.”

Other episodes were to follow in the long controversy between those at the School who, especially sensitive to the pull of the University, were content, if not actually determined, to expend their full effort on ...

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