Preface to a Vision
This document contains Houston Baptist University’s vision for the next 10-12 years. We have not limited our plans to incremental improvements, but have instead decided to reach for a space in American higher education that is almost unoccupied. We intend to build on our reputation as an outstanding, regional master’s degree-granting institution to become a comprehensive national university firmly rooted in the Christian faith. Before we reveal our ideas for the future, I’d like to first recall our beginnings.
In 1961, Stewart Morris and Rex Baker submitted the final draft of the preamble to the bylaws of what was then Houston Baptist College. One trustee described the preamble as the steel that makes the foundation of the university. The express desire of HBU’s founders was to birth and nurture a university that would remain unequivocally wedded to the Christian faith. The current preamble, modified in only minor ways to reflect the transition from college to university and to be even clearer about the necessary Christian convictions of those who work for HBU, reads as follows:
Nature of the Institution
The Preamble to the University By-Laws as stated below describes the distinctive nature of the institution.
The Houston Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts university dedicated to the development of moral character, the enrichment of spiritual lives, and the perpetuation of growth in Christian ideals. Founded under the providence of God and with the conviction that there is a need for a university in this community that will train the minds, develop the moral character and enrich the spiritual lives of all people who may come within the ambit of its influence, HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY shall stand as a witness for Jesus Christ expressed directly through its administration, faculty and students. To assure the perpetuation of these basic concepts of its founders, it is resolved that all those who become associated with Houston Baptist University as a trustee, officer, member of the faculty or of the staff, and who perform work connected with the educational activities of the University, must believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament, that man was directly created by God, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as the Son of God, that He died for the sins of all men and thereafter arose from the grave, that by repentance and the acceptance of and belief in Him, by the grace of God, the individual is saved from eternal damnation and receives eternal life in the presence of God; and it is further resolved that the ultimate teachings in this University shall never be inconsistent with the above principles.
-- Amended by the Board of Trustees
February 22, 1974
Our historic preamble continues to be the source of our vitality and inspiration. The central confession of the New Testament, as reflected by the preamble, is that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Such a claim has deep implications not only for the church, but also for the institutions of higher learning to which the church has given birth. The Gospels, Acts, the Letters, and the Apocalypse all bear testimony to the foundational assertion that the same Jesus who was crucified has now been vindicated by the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Furthermore this resurrected One is now installed on a heavenly throne expressive of His universal sovereignty. All peoples, tongues, and nations fall under the sway of His Lordship, whether acknowledged or not. He is the One through whom God made the world, by whom all things are reconciled, and unto whom and for whom all of history will find its consummation (Ephesians 1:10).
To say “Jesus Christ is Lord” is not merely to affirm a religious confession, nor to say something only about an interior faith or personal, individualistic values. Rather, to say “Jesus Christ is Lord” is to make a statement that touches not only the private spiritual lives of believers, but encompasses all of the ranges of the created order, including the scope and breadth, as well as the complexities, of human social, political, emotional, and physical experience. He is Lord, not only of the church, but over all things visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16), and therefore there is no area of reality which is, or even can be, outside the sphere of His Lordship. For a university to express Christ’s Lordship as a function of its academic mission is to embrace in principle, through research, teaching, and the learning community, all the questions, issues, and intricacies which curiosity and imagination can engender, from undergraduate through graduate experience.
Our vision for HBU brims with ideas, plans, and objectives, but we view it all as nothing if we follow the all-too-familiar path of gaining distinction at the price of the loss of our faith. For that reason, we have proposed a vision for a Christian university and not a university that happens to have denominational trappings ancillary to the core mission.
Robert B. Sloan, Jr.
President, Houston Baptist University