In Parts I and II of this series, I have tried to summarize the early events of the modern creation revival, as well as my own involvement in those events. The Lord seemed to use the 1961 book The Genesis Flood (by Dr. John Whitcomb and myself) as a sort of catalyst to stir up the latent concern over the predominance of evolutionary humanistic teaching in the schools and colleges of the nation, with all its attendant evils. The Creation Research Society was then formed in 1963 and has been going strong ever since.
After several years, however, it became apparent that the CRS alone could not meet the need, nor could any other membership association. Each member had his or her own full-time job and could only devote spare time to promoting the truth of creation.
In the meantime, interest in creationism was growing substantially among regular church members, and also among college students. Our books and journal articles were making an impact. John Whitcomb and I in particular were invited to speak in many churches and campuses, both individually and together.
All this was good, but somewhat ephemeral. A full-time work was needed, especially if the scientific and educational communities were ever going to take creation seriously. This finally became possible when Dr. Tim LaHaye invited me to leave Virginia Tech to help start a new Christian college in San Diego.
Unlike other Christian college presidents I had talked to, Dr. LaHaye agreed that a creation-oriented college, with a special creation studies division, would be ideal. Then in September 1970 we offered our first classes at Christian Heritage College.
It seemed to be the beginning of my dream of a true Christian creationist university, but it was a very small beginning! At Virginia Tech I had been head of an engineering department with 600 students and 25 full-time professors, holding a tenured position in a prestigious scientific university. When Christian Heritage opened, there were seven full-time students and no full-time professors! Dr. LaHaye likes to say that the creation study center (which soon became ICR) was a manila folder in my desk drawer.
But it was a beginning, and the College had a creation-governed curriculum, including six semester-hours of Creationism and six semester-hours of Christian Evidences, as well as six semester-hours each of Old Testament and New Testament. These courses were required of all students and were designed to equip all CHC graduates, regardless of their majors, to defend and propagate the true Christian faith in a hostile world.
The programs were evidently attractive, and enrollments grew, reaching 500 by 1979-80. Many came because of the growing national ministry of ICR, and many graduates from those early classes later told us, years after graduation, that our emphasis on creationism and Christian evidences had been invaluable to them in later life.
Several popular ICR books--in particular Scientific Creationism, Many Infallible Proofs, and Troubled Waters of Evolution—were originally developed as hand-out notes for those classes. I also taught a course in the book of Genesis for our Bible and Missions majors, and one of our most widely used books, The Genesis Record, came out of my notes for that class. Our over-all approach to the Biblical philosophy of education in general eventually became the book Christian Education for the Real World.
The idealistic goal in true education, as taught by the Bible, is to base every curriculum and, indeed, every course on full Biblical inerrant authority and literal creationism, in contrast to the evolutionary humanism which dominates secular education and which to a distressing extent has infiltrated Christian education. I had hoped that all faculty members would be committed to these ideals and would also prepare creation-oriented textbooks for their respective subject areas. Thus, hopefully, Christian Heritage would become the nucleus of a future full-orbed Christian university and also a sort of pilot project for other Christian colleges in other regions.
To some degree, this "pilot program" was successful, not only at Christian Heritage, but elsewhere as well. A number of other schools—especially Bible colleges and Christian high schools—set up courses in creationism and Christian evidences, adopting one or more of our books as textbooks or required reading. There have even been a good number of secular colleges and universities that have established courses in origins and have used Scientific Creationism or one of our other books for the creation part of the course.
For the first decade (1970-80), ICR was a division of the College, and our ICR scientists also constituted the science faculty of the College. This was an effective recruiting tool for the College, as well as the nationwide creationist extension ministry of ICR, and the Lord did, indeed, bless in many thrilling ways.
My original hope had been that the college eventually would become a Christian creationist university. In spite of the substantial growth of both ICR and the College, however, this dream for various reasons has proved illusory.
For one thing, there was the problem of accreditation. Graduating from an "accredited" college is an item of great importance to most students and their parents, so we had decided to pursue accreditation for the College as expeditiously as possible, provided we would not have to compromise our doctrinal convictions to do so. Preliminary inquiry at the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) had indicated we would not have to compromise, so we went ahead on that basis.
It turned out otherwise, however. The visiting teams repeatedly faulted us for our firm commitment to Biblical authority and literal creationism. I recall one team member, a faculty member at another Christian college, saying in their "exit interview" that we could probably get by with our creationist emphasis if we didn't stress it so much in our catalog and recruitment materials. The chairwoman of another visiting team said that it was all right for us to "search for truth," but we could not claim we had the truth, regardless of what the Bible said. The executive director of WASC finally recommended that we delete the literal creationism tenet from our doctrinal statement, and also insisted that ICR should have no further influence over the College. (I had actually served for two years as College President after Dr. LaHaye resigned to become Chancellor; this was in 1978-80, the time Christian Heritage received its fourth "Candidacy" recognition by WASC.)
This frustration was augmented by WASC insistence that the College not add any graduate programs. Graduate degree programs in science were (and still are) urgently needed by the Christian world, and such a graduate school would be a key component of any hoped-for Christian university system.
Accordingly, in early 1981 I resigned as College President so that ICR could separate from the College and have its own Graduate School of creation-oriented science. ICR proceeded then to form its own programs and Board of Trustees and to get its own charter and tax-exempt status.
The College finally achieved accreditation in 1982 after ICR and I were no longer connected with it. The mission statement was diluted somewhat, but not the doctrinal statement. The College has maintained its accreditation ever since and is still certainly one of the better and sounder Christian colleges, with well over a thousand graduates maintaining a strong Christian testimony in many fields of service.
However, it had begun to appear that a consortium of creationist schools would be a more practical means of attaining the equivalent of a creationist university. This kind of development would require some kind of accrediting association which could assure people of both academic and doctrinal integrity in its member schools.
Accordingly, in 1979, a few college presidents (including myself) met and formed the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (acronym TRACS) for this purpose. After long struggle against opposition (both Christian and secular) plus much effort and prayer, TRACS was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in 1992 as the official accrediting agency for Bible-centered creationist schools of all types and levels. Its doctrinal statement is quite similar to those of Christian Heritage College and the ICR Graduate School, and to date over 60 institutions of higher education have become members at either the Accredited, Candidate, or Associate levels.
* Dr. Henry M. Morris (1918-2006) was Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.