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Eugene W. Prewitt

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Attending Public Colleges and Universities

Attending Colleges and Universities of the Land


It would be perfectly safe for our youth to enter the colleges of our land if they were converted every day; but if they feel at liberty to be off guard one day, that very day Satan is ready with his snares, and they are overcome and led to walk in false paths–forbidden paths, paths that the Lord has not cast up.

Now, shall professed Christians refuse to associate with the unconverted, and seek to have no communication with them? No, they are to be with them, in the world and not of the world, but not to partake of their ways, not to be impressed by them, not to have a heart open to their customs and practices. Their associations are to be for the purpose of drawing others to Christ.  {3SM 231.2}

Here is the danger of our youth. The attractions in these institutions are such, and the teaching so intermixed with error and sophistry, that they cannot discern the poison of sentiment mingled with the useful and precious. There is such an undercurrent, and it works in such a manner that many do not perceive it, but it is constantly at work. Certain ideas are constantly advanced by the professors, and repeated over and over, and at last the mind begins to assimilate and conform to these ideas.

Just so when infidel authors are studied. These men have sharp intellects, and their sharp ideas are presented, and the mind of the student is influenced by them; they are pleased with their brilliance.

But where did those men obtain their powers of intellect? Where did they get their sharpness? From the fountain of all knowledge. But they have prostituted their powers; they have given them as a contribution to the devil, and don’t you think the devil is smart? Many are traveling in the devil’s tracks by reading infidel authors. Satan is a sharp being, and they fall in love with his learning and smartness.–Manuscript 8b, 1891.  {3SM 232.2}


To many of our youth there is great danger in listening to the discourses that are given by those who in the world are called great men. These discourses are often of a highly intellectual nature, and prevailing errors of science falsely so-called and of popular religious doctrine are mingled with wise sayings and observations, but they undermine the statements of the Bible and give the impression that there is reason for questioning the truth of the inspired Word. In this way the seeds of skepticism are sown by great and professedly wise men, but their names are registered in the books of record in heaven as fools, and they are an offense to God. They repeat the falsehoods that Satan put into the mouth of the serpent, and educate the youth in delusions.  {3SM 232.3}

This is the kind of education the enemy delights in. It is sorcery. The great apostle inquired, “Who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth?” Those who receive and admire the sentiments of these so-called great men are in danger, for through the subtlety of the enemy the sophistical reasoning of these false teachers takes root in the heart of our youth, and almost imperceptibly they are converted from truth to error. But the conversion should be just the other way. Our young men who have seen the evidences of the verity of truth should be firmly established and able to win souls to Christ from the darkness of error.

The youth who go to Ann Arbor must receive Jesus as their personal Saviour or they will build upon the sand, and their foundation will be swept away. The Spirit of Christ must regenerate and sanctify the soul, and pure affection for Christ must be kept alive by humble, daily trust in God. Christ must be formed within, the hope of glory. Let Jesus be revealed to those with whom you associate.–Letter 26, 1891.


The Waldensians entered the schools of the world as students. They made no pretensions; apparently they paid no attention to anyone; but they lived out what they believed. They never sacrificed principle, and their principles soon became known. This was different from anything the other students had seen, and they began to ask themselves, What does this all mean? Why cannot these men be induced to swerve from their principles? While they were considering this, they heard them praying in their rooms, not to the virgin Mary, but to the Saviour, whom they addressed as the only mediator between God and man. The worldly students were encouraged to make inquiries, and as the simple story of the truth as it is in Jesus was told, their minds grasped it.  {3SM 233.2}

These things I tried to present at HarborHeights [at an educational convention in 1891]. Those who have the spirit of God, who have the truth wrought into their very being, should be encouraged to enter colleges, and live the truth, as Daniel and Paul did. Each one should study to see what is the best way to get the truth into the school, that the light may shine forth. Let them show that they respect all the rules and regulations of the school. The leaven will begin to work; for we can depend much more upon the power of God manifested in the  lives of His children than upon any words that can be spoken. But they should also tell inquirers, in as simple language as they can, of the simple Bible doctrines.  {3SM 233.3}

There are those who, after becoming established, rooted and grounded in the truth, should enter these institutions of learning as students. They can keep the living principles of the truth, and observe the Sabbath, and yet they will have opportunity to work for the Master by dropping seeds of truth in minds and hearts. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, these seeds will spring up to bear fruit for the glory of God, and will result in the saving of souls. The students need not go to these institutions of learning in order to become enlightened upon theological subjects; for the teachers of the school need themselves to become Bible students. No open controversies should be started, yet opportunity will be given to ask questions upon Bible doctrines, and light will be flashed into many minds. A spirit of investigation will be aroused.  {3SM 234.1}

But I scarcely dare present this method of labor; for there is danger that those who have no connection with God will place themselves in these schools, and instead of correcting error and diffusing light, will themselves be led astray. But this work must be done, and it will be done by those who are led and taught of God.–Manuscript 22a, 1895.   {3SM 234.2}

Jesus was a teacher when He was but twelve years old. He went in before the rabbis and doctors of the law as a learner, asking questions that surprised the learned doctors, and showing eagerness to obtain information. By every question He poured light into their darkened minds. Had He led them to suspect that He was trying to teach them, they would have spurned Him. So it was all through His life. By His purity, His humility, His meekness, He rebuked sin. Those around Him could not find a single thing for which to blame Him, yet He was at work all the time. He worked in His own home until He had no home. His lot was no more pleasant than that of the young people who today are trying to walk in His footsteps.

If all our people would work in Christ’s way, what a blessing it would be. There are many ways in which to diffuse light, and a great work can be done in many lines that is not now done. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This spirit will inspire others to do the will of the Lord also.–Ms 22a, 1895, pp. 7, 8a.  {4MR 53.1}


The Lord has presented before me our neglect of improving opportunities for good, in failing to get acquainted with the work that is being done in the large institutions for the education of the colored people. Long ago we should have made a thorough study of the best ways of educating the colored people to be workers for the colored people. We should use every opportunity to work wisely for the teachers and students in these large educational institutions. We do not need to work hastily to indoctrinate the workers, but we can seek in every way possible to help them, and to let them know that we appreciate their labors.  {4MR 53.2}

One of the strong reasons presented to me why our office of publication should be established at Nashville, was that through our publications the light of truth might shine to the teachers and students in these institutions. I expected long ago to hear that this work had been undertaken.  {4MR 53.3}

Recently light again came to me instructing me that decided efforts should be made in an honorable way to get into the ranks of the students in these schools, and by gaining the confidence of the white teachers, get permission to give them talks on missionary subjects. It was because of the existence of these large institutions of education in Nashville that I was shown that this city was the most favorable place in which to open up our work in the Southern field. There has been a sad failure to take advantage of circumstances.–Letter 228, 1907. (To the officers of the General Conference, 1907.)  {4MR 54.1}


Some time ago I had light that you, J. S. Washburn, should become acquainted with the work that is being done by the large educational institutions for the colored people in Nashville. When the work was first opened in Nashville, I was deeply anxious that our workers should become acquainted with the teachers and learn from them their methods of working. Again and again I have been instructed that some of our youth should be encouraged to attend these schools and exert an influence for the truth as they mingle with the students and teachers in their classes. I still urge that this be done.  {4MR 54.2}

I have repeatedly stated that one of the reasons that we were led to select Nashville as a suitable center for our work in the South was because of the location of the large schools there for the colored people. As our brethren become acquainted with the methods of work in these colored schools, they will learn much regarding how to sow successfully the seeds of truth in the hearts of these people. This was clearly presented to me when we first entered the city of Nashville.–Letter 48a, 1908.4MR 54.3}


It is very warm, and yet I feel that I must answer your letter. May the Lord help me to write to you. I fear that I have left your letter in Healdsburg, but your question, I think, is distinct to my mind. I have been shown me some things in reference to those who are now students in Ann Arbor, and I know that I speak intelligently when I say that if you could have had the advantages of the meetings at Petoskey you would have received light and knowledge in regard to heavenly things that would have been of the highest value to you all. From the light I have had, I know that the students at Ann Arbor are in danger of not preserving a living connection with God, and will fail to impart knowledge and light unless they do receive wisdom from God.  {4MR 47.4}

As to your question:  In connecting with unbelieving students in discussion of religious liberty, there is danger of reaping results which you do not anticipate. . . .  {4MR 48.1}

Instead of creating an issue and bringing about division of feeling, unite with the students in their meetings in a judicious manner, not striving for the mastery but watching for an opportunity to flash bright rays of light before them. In advocating religious liberty sentiments you might be pressed in argument to take so decided a stand that you would build a wall between yourself and those whom you sought to enlighten, and failing to draw them toward the truth, you would fail to do them good. That which you might say in regard to religious liberty might be all truth, and yet because of an untimely introduction, an overpositive utterance, you might bring about alienation between yourself and those you would instruct. In all meekness, in the spirit of Christ, live out the truth. Be often in prayer as was Daniel, for the Lord will surely hear the prayer of all who call upon Him in sincerity, and He will answer. We have no time in which to bring in needless things. Study to know God and Jesus Christ, for this is eternal life to every one of you.

If you walk humbly with God you may unite with the students not of our faith, agreeing with them as far as possible by dwelling upon points wherein you harmonize. Make no effort to create an issue. Let them do that part of the work themselves. Let them see that you are not egotistical, pharisaical, thinking no one loves God but yourselves, but draw them to Christ, thus drawing them to the truth. All heaven is engaged in this work. Angels wait for the cooperation of men in drawing souls to Christ. “We are laborers together with God.”  {4MR 49.1}

For the Word Doc: Attending_Colleges_and_Universities_of_the_Land

(8) Comments

  1. Wow… This has really help put a lot of questions in my mind at ease. Thank you for putting this up. Are these all the comments that she says about public schools? Also do you have anything on our Adventist schools?

    • Writing about Adventist schools is fraught with political minefields. But looking up “Battle Creek” in Ellen White’s writings, will give you a lot of perspective as that institution progressed from faithful (but ignorant) to perverse and rebellious. In that regard, its short history parallels, at some point, most Adventists schools today. And so the counsels written to Battle Creek are relevant to us today.

  2. in pr 6, you mention about great man
    ” To many of our youth there is great danger in listening to the discourses that are given by those who in the world are called great men.”

    Is it great men like gandhi is to be consider as this? he might not be a evil doer, but he is not biblical follower.

    • The danger in listening to men, whether they are great or not, is that they often err dangerously. The danger in “great men” is that they persuade easily. So in public education we must keep our minds carefully, refusing to read anything that is profane or infidel or immoral. And even if witty humor makes it seem safe, it should be carefully avoided.

  3. Hi! Thank you for sharing all that. Some of the quotes I wasn’t aware and really impressed me.
    Although we know that even in SDA schools many things aren’t right, what if your desire is pursue a degree like Nursing or a MD in order to be a more useful missionary. Besides of knowing God’s will on that path, what kind of advise you can give? Is it worthy to go through many years and be a missionary on that field or is it better just becoming a medical-missionary in our self-supporting institutions because time is short to go to school, Jesus is soon to come?

    • No. But in general, I would recommend a practical training, a university with an active SDA outreach on campus (unless you have the leadership and drive to create the same), and that you not be in a “Jerusalem Center” (Ellen White’s phrase for areas around SDA institutions where many SDAs live.)

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