The first summer Institute was later described as “a success beyond expectation,”6 and the Institute would offer summer study programs at the University of Maryland for three additional years. Again world-class speakers taught, including Carl Henry, Edmund Clowney, Richard Halverson, Earl Palmer, Norman Geisler, and Os Guinness. Classes dealt with the themes of Science and Faith, the Christian Mind, and Christian Apologetics.
In the informational brochure for the 1979 summer program, the name C.S. Lewis Institute was used in place of Summer Study Institute. The organization had been incorporated shortly after the initial 1976 summer program as the “The C.S. Lewis College for Bible and Theological Studies, Inc.,” and the name would be officially amended to “The C.S. Lewis Institute, Inc.” in 1995.
A question is sometimes asked: why was the Institute named after C.S. Lewis? Houston has explained that the name was chosen as a representation that summarized the mission of the Institute, “to create not a lot of fans for C.S. Lewis but to have 10,000 like him.”7 Houston added that this would involve engaging with culture, including the political and cultural life, but from a boldly Christian apologetic. He noted Lewis’s BBC broadcasts that were the basis for the book Mere Christianity and cited Lewis as “representing an apologetic voice in Western culture.” Houston also explained that Lewis was a model for the Institute’s vision, encouraging people to take their faith to the same level of competence and intelligence as Lewis.8 Hiskey noted that the name was chosen because C.S. Lewis modeled the kind of discipleship that is the vision of the Institute, that is, that of head and heart, faith and vocation; the name also would be recognized and stand up on the college campus.9 There was also a personal connection in naming the Institute after Lewis, as Houston had known Lewis at Oxford and had been part of a discussion group with Lewis that met monthly for six years.
The 1979 CSLI summer session brochure explained the future vision for the Institute as follows:
the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict or grieve the children of men (Lam. 3:31–33).
His hope in God’s goodness, grace, and love grew stronger:
Beginning with these summer programs, the long term goal is to establish a year-round institute… It will provide a serious introduction to Biblical studies for those without formal theological training, and a continuing education for those already active in Christian work.10
Many people in addition to Hiskey and Houston were actively involved in the early years of CSLI, all of whom worked as volunteers. Other very early organizers and planners included Hiskey’s wife, Lorraine, Rich and Kathy Gathro, Paul and Kathy Arveson, Bob and Carol Hamrin, and John and Marge Bernbaum. Key volunteers included Ron and Bea Jenkins, Mike and Jenny Cromartie, John and Sue Seele, Bill St. Cyr, Sandy Sharpe, and Jane Gilmore.
Paul Arveson began recording CLSI classes in 1979, initially made available for sale on cassette tapes. Many of the early recordings are “legacy recordings” available through CSLI’s website, where they can be listened to or downloaded without charge.
The early leaders of CSLI considered many issues about the specific nature and organization of the ministry. One early issue was whether the Institute should seek to provide a theological base for the National Prayer Breakfast movement.
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