Celebrating Forty Years of Heart and Mind Discipleship:
A Brief History of the C.S. Lewis Institute
J. Edward Glancy, J.D., C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow
with Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D., President, C.S. Lewis Institute
A Beginning through Friendship and a Commitment to Discipleship
The C.S. Lewis Institute (CSLI) was founded in the Washington, D.C., area in 1976 by James R. Hiskey and James M. Houston. The two cofounders came from very different backgrounds but shared a love for Jesus Christ and a desire to see believers thoughtfully living out their faith in their professional and personal lives.
Hiskey was a former PGA Tour player and a golf pro. He had been a cofounder of the PGA Tour Fellowship and founder of the Links Letter, which published the testimonies of PGA players and their wives. Hiskey had come to the Washington metro area to work with the National Prayer Breakfast and was involved in founding Cornerstone, a small community of believers in College Park, near the University of Maryland. Hiskey had visited Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri and was powerfully influenced by the experience.
Houston, an academic who had earned his D.Phil. at Oxford University, was the Principal of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, which described itself as “the first graduate school of theology in North America to make education of the laity its central focus.”1 Houston had previously been University Lecturer at Oxford, where he taught from 1947 to 1971.
The beginning of CSLI can be traced back to a visit Houston made to the University of Maryland in the fall of 1971. He visited Cornerstone, which was just getting started, and spoke to numerous students and faculty members. He “encouraged the community to consider the possibility of developing an institute of biblical studies designed for both lay people and those in full-time Christian ministry,”2 an adaptation of the L’Abri model developed by Francis Schaeffer. This concept would lead to the founding of CSLI.
Some period of time lapsed after Houston’s visit before much happened. Hiskey remembers receiving a telephone call from Houston who was sitting with John Stott in London. Houston reported that Stott was willing to come help get things started with a Summer Studies Institute, and Houston asked Hiskey if he wanted to go ahead. Hiskey recalls replying, “Sure, let’s go.”3
The Early Years of the Summer Study Institute: 1976–1979
CSLI, initially called the Summer Study Institute, was inaugurated in June 1976 with a three-week academic program in College Park, Maryland. The Institute offered five classes taught by an impressive faculty of internationally known Christian scholars and leaders such as Houston, John R.W. Stott, J.I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, R.C. Sproul, Sen. Mark Hatfield, and Chuck Colson! One hundred and seventy people enrolled for the Institute’s 1976 program,4 which also included chapel services and some evening activities.
The informational brochure for the 1976 program stated that the Institute “will seek to assist the student in formulating a worldview that integrates professional training with the Christian faith, in the context of a community of believers studying and worshipping together.”5
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