Complex Continuity: Changes in Stability in the Christian Identity of Hampden-Sydney College
For the past few years, interpretations of the patterns of colleges and their founding churches have followed two paths. Authors such as James Burtchaell and George Marsden have followed models of declination, while others, including Robert Benne, have argued from a positive perspective. This scholastic conflict has been a key issue of debate in many circles recently and was even the subject of a panel discussion at the latest conference of The American Society of Church History. Using the current debate as background, I comparatively investigated the history of Hampden-Sydney College with the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Using Lafayette College and Davidson College as representative of the two sides of the argument, I have compared Hampden-Sydney with those two examples and categorized the College as an example of complex continuity. Throughout its 228 year history Hampden-Sydney has drawn from the American community at large for the College’s student body. As a result of this, Hampden-Sydney as an institution has reflected the changes in society through our Mission Statement and Honor Code. Using those key documents as a starting point, I have categorized the current state of the relationship with the Presbyterian Church as well as the current state of opinion of students and faculty on that issue. In closing, using these points as a foundation, I have made predictions for the future of this relationship.