" . . .The work of Timothy Dwight, inaugurated as president of Yale on September 8, 1795, represents a significant contribution to the fight against infidelity. He graduated from Yale in 1769 and held a tutorship until he resigned to serve as chaplain during the Revolutionary War. For a number of years he served as principal of an academy at Greenfield Hill, Connecticut. From 1795 until his death he was honored as president of Yale. He left several publications which serve as a memorial to his great accomplishments.
Dwight recognized the significance for mankind of words like Reason and Liberty;
but to worship abstract terms seemed to him idolatry as meaningless as that of the
heathen who bowed down before a sacred cow or stone. It was beyond his under-
standing how intelligent men could idolize a bare word, sacrificing at its shrine the very
thing which it denoted. [Cunningham, Charles E. Timothy Dwight 298]
Dwight saw this distorted worship of 'Reason and Liberty' being rendered by the youthful minds of Yale's student body. The French philosophies so captivated their minds that 'Sophomore D'Alembert' would greet 'Classmate Diderot' outside the chapel door.
When Dwight was installed as president at Yale, many of the students sought the earliest possibility to test him. Among the list of topics submitted for discussion, as was the custom, was one proposed by the seniors: 'Are the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments the word of God?' The former administration had not permitted such a question to be openly discussed and the students felt that Dwight also would suppress discussion upon it. To their surprise he selected the question proposed by the seniors. He instructed them to choose the side they wanted and that he would not charge them personally for arguments proposed. But he further urged them to treat the subject with the proper respect.
Dwight refuted the arguments presented by the students. Cunningham suggests that the counter-arguments of the Presdient 'left the stoutest infidel in his audience utterly confounded. His bolts had the effect of lightning upon the whole college.' After the initial step had been taken, he preached for six months upon the subject of the inspiration of the Scriptures. He also started a series of lectures on the 'Evidences of Divine Revelation,' having collected material for fifty lectures. However, due to trouble with his eyes, he was forced to abandon the intended plan."
Filbeck, James Orval
The Christian Evidence Movement (1946)