Letter on Witnessing to University Students and Professors
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
124 Columbia Hts. Brooklyn 2, N. Y.
May 6, 1951
Of late we have noted a definite upswing of interest in our message of the new world particularly among those who are educators and college students. As you know, our Ithaca territory served by the more than two hundred some publishers associated with Gilead includes the two secular schools, namely, Ithaca College with 1,433 students and the internationally famous Cornell University with a teaching staff of 1,069 and a student body of 10,565.
Since the Yankee Stadium Convention of August 1950 we have made a wide distribution of the new booklet Evolution versus The New World among the educated class, with the result that several Bible studies have been started not only with college students but also with their instructors. It is evident from the many discussions our Gilead people have had on the streets and in the house-to-house work that numbers of university people are not as sold on the evolutionary theory as some misinformed educators would like.
Last fall a young man came to Cornell for his doctor’s degree, having taken his master’s degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Learning of Gilead he requested an interview with one of its instructors. I called at his lodging place and a three-hour discussion ensued. In a retreating battle the Cornell man was contending for the philosophies he had learned as against the clear, logical, forceful teachings of the Bible.
The next day a phone call came through to Gilead with an S.O.S. plea from this same student for a further interview, as he had not been able to sleep the night before. He found that many of his previous foundations and hopes and ideals had been shattered. He was encouraged to begin to study the Bible, which he immediately set out to do, even to slighting some of his school studies. Soon the Evolution booklet brought him quick deliverance from this intellectual superstition and he discussed its contents enthusiastically with his several professors and fellow students. Every Tuesday night a home Bible study was held with him in the book “This Means Everlasting Life”. Inside two months he advanced to the point where he attended the weekly meetings at Gilead and also participated in the field service. His school studies now seemed to be worthless and were not building him up for his new world future. He left the university to return home to become a minister.
Another interesting case is that of an ex-G.I. who graduated this last February as a veterinarian doctor. He was in Gen. Clark’s army that invaded Italy. He visited not only Rome and many parts of Italy but also had an interview with the pope, along with ten other American soldiers. At the conclusion of his service as a soldier in Italy, having been utterly disillusioned and disgusted with Catholic civilization, he decided that when he returned to America he would become a Protestant minister. But upon his return to the United States he couldn’t find any satisfactory Protestant church that he would like to become a minister of. So he finally decided to attend Cornell University for five years to become a veterinarian, and that he did.
However, it was not until this last fall that one of our Gilead publishers found him and immediately began home Bible studies with him. He has come right along in the truth and is now a real minister of God, one of Jehovah’s witnesses. He has accepted a position as a veterinarian in Texas and has moved there with his little family to take up the witness work as well. His wife too took her stand and is rejoicing in the hope of life in the new world.
In January a Cornell instructor obtained a copy of “This Means Everlasting Life” from one of Gilead’s students who was doing street work. The Gilead student arranged for me to accompany her on the back-call, and after a very pleasant interview the gentleman agreed to attend my weekly Bible study which other Cornell folks attend, and which is held near his home and near the campus. He has already attended nine meetings and takes a very active part in the discussions. Sometimes we spend one or two hours after the hour’s Bible study in discussing Bible problems and questions. He expressed himself as enjoying the Evolution booklet, which well confirms his disbelief in this theory for many years.
In the house-to-house work on the last Sunday in March one of the Gilead students called at the home of a Cornell professor who immediately gave him a warm welcome and invited him to step inside for a chat. He said he heard that some of Jehovah’s witnesses had given talks to a students’ group at the Unitarian church a few Sundays before and wondered whether one of our instructors would address one of his classes sometime. The Gilead student invited the professor to attend our public meeting that afternoon and promised to introduce him to me following the meeting. He came and was delighted with the public lecture. We talked for about an hour on Bible matters and then he asked whether I would like to give a lecture to his sociology students the next Saturday. This I readily agreed to do.
Right at 11 a.m. that next Saturday April 7 twenty-four sociology students (seniors and grads.) were waiting along with their instructor in Morrill Hall to hear the talk. The theme of my talk was “The Incoming New World Society”. A brief study was presented of the origin of the present old world society and how it has stood outside God’s favor, divorced, so to speak, ever since the rebellion in Eden. How Jehovah the Author of Life in due time sent his Chief Agent of Life, Christ Jesus, to earth to become the means around which a new world society was to be built which would endure forever in harmony with God. They were shown that our present generation is passing through a transition period in which we are experiencing and witnessing a break-up of the present unsatisfactory old world system of things. Jehovah’s witnesses as a worldwide community in 115 different lands are today a nucleus of the incoming new world society. It was shown that our witness work has an intellectual appeal, and not an emotional one to the credulous, as is the case with most religious organizations today. Actually what is now socially transpiring on a global scale is a mass exodus from effete religions to the strong, well-tried one fold of Jehovah’s witnesses under the invisible leadership of the one shepherd Christ Jesus.
The indifference displayed at first by a few of the students was transformed into a most attentive audience taking copious notes of what was being said. After the lecture, which lasted about 35 minutes, questions were enthusiastically propounded. Twenty-two Evolution booklets were eagerly accepted by the class and two books also were placed.
A series of special lectures entitled “Faith Concept” has been running at the university and held in Barnes Hall where guest speakers, clergymen from the Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon and Quaker faiths, took their turns to address the students. One of the Cornell students who regularly attends my Thursday night Bible study took the initiative to see the authorities whether Jehovah’s witnesses could not be asked to supply a speaker for this “Faith Concept” series. The ones in charge agreed to ask me to address their assembly as the eighth in the series and the date set was for Tuesday, May 1, at 4:30 p.m. Due publicity was given in the university’s newspaper, The Cornell Sun.
The lecture was held as scheduled. Fifty were in attendance, some of the faculty and the majority students. The theme of the talk was “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. (Prov. 29:18) Our Scriptural vision of the glorious new world was vividly painted for them in many details, together with the Biblical proofs. Toward the end of my thirty-minute talk three Presbyterian clergymen entered the assembly. In the question-and-answer session which followed the clergy sought to get control of the meeting. However, they soon betrayed their ignorance and lack of faith in the Bible and were laughed down by the audience.
For example, in the discussion as to whether the human soul was mortal or not, one clergyman said that this word “soul” is understood in various senses, one of which is the sole of your foot. Professional twisters as they were, the clergy couldn’t get the audience to swallow that one. Imagine using two entirely different words and spelled differently at that! In countering the speaker’s reference to Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, AS, where it says “the dead know not anything, . . . there is no . . . knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest”, one of the clergymen said that the writer Solomon at that time was despondent and therefore did not really mean what he wrote, just as when a man today gets spiritually down he utters things he does not really mean. With this sophistry the clergyman definitely went on record as denying the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures.
The clergy filibuster having failed, the audience continued to ask questions for about forty minutes, showing their keen interest in prophecies of the forthcoming new world. At the conclusion one bound book and 21 Evolution booklets were placed. One of the clergymen spoke to me after the meeting and said that he wished his people had the zeal that Jehovah’s witnesses had. That was accountable, I ventured, because Jehovah’s witnesses have a clear vision of a practical future. We have something tangible to offer the people, namely, hope of life unending on a beautiful paradise earth. Offering people future life in a roasting hell or in a heaven of vague idle life inspires no one.
The next day The Cornell Sun carried a fair write-up as to the lecture. Even this article served as a witness, because the next Saturday while in the street work one Cornell student approached a publisher, asking for literature, as he wanted to know more about the new world mentioned in the report in the paper. Other reports have come in to indicate quite a favorable reaction to the witness given. One professor in attendance was particularly friendly in greeting and took many notes of the talk.
So, by the Lord’s undeserved kindness, we will continue to avail ourselves of every opportunity in expanding our witness to the new world in our territory of “intellectual ones” by offering priceless education for life to those who claim to be educated in the ways of this old world.
Your fellow proclaimer of Jehovah’s supremacy,
A. D. SCHROEDER [signed] Registrar at Watchtower Bible School of Gilead