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The Presidential Influence lectureship sheds light on the Bible in U.S. history

The Oklahoma City Museum of Bible returns to Oklahoma Christian University to examine the Bible’s influence previous American presidents.

The series kicked off with a lecture entitled ‘George Washington and Religion: The Man, The Myth and The Mason’  led by Ted Steinbock, a scholar and adjunct curator of Rare Books from the University of Louisville, in a sold-out Cail Auditorium.

“Based on my own readings of his private letters and public speeches,” Steinbock said. “What I want to do tonight is bring to you a sense of his own really deep faith. I also want to bring you his perspective of religion ritual on our society.”

The Presidential Influence: The Importance of the Bible Among America’s Greatest Leaders series is a compilation of seven independent lectures featuring speakers on how the Bible affected different American presidents.

The Museum of the Bible kicked off the Presidential Influence series last night on campus. Online Photo.
The Museum of the Bible kicked off the Presidential Influence series last night on campus. Online Photo.

The purpose of the lecture as a whole is to discover the significance of the Bible in a selection of the presidential leaders of America’s past.

“Washington held 102 names for the providence of God,” Steinbock said. “He used the Bible many times in his writings, his private letters, his public speeches and his general orders.”

Each lecture will last approximately 30-45 minutes followed by a question and answer session.. In the foyer outside of Cail Auditorium, artifacts for each lecture’s presidential figure will be featured for attendees to see.

“For our generation, especially college students, we hear from the media and our history courses that the Founding Fathers of our nation were deists,” senior Angelica Hickerson said. “They focus solely on that aspect. This lecture gave a whole picture that did not take away from their life and did not take their work for granite.”

Steinbock said Washington’s personal library contained 900 volumes, 50 of which were religious, another 170 of those were sermons that he bound up.

“George Washington was deified as the father of our country,” Steinbock said. “He attended church services regularly, a significant portion of his library was the Bible. Washington was a part of the Mason group that was considered to be a service arm for Christianity. The Bible was an important part of his life and it’s reflected in the amount of biblical image he used in his writings alone.”

The series will feature presentations from an archivist from the George Bush Presidential Library as well as professors of history from Baylor and Oral Roberts.

“A lot of colleges would not have a faith-based approach,” Hickerson said. “It is not a popular topic. It is important to see every angle of things, especially when you’re at a Christian school.”

Two professors from Oklahoma Christian, Gary Lindsey and Matt McCook will also speak during the series.

Lindsey will speak on Nov 17 about Thomas Jefferson and McCook will speak on John Quincy Adams on Dec 1 to conclude the lectureship series on campus.

Hickerson said she encourages more students to come and hear what the remaining speakers have to say about past American leaders and their connections to religion.

Each lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Cail Auditorium. The sessions are free to the public, however due to limited availability of seating, an RSVP is required.

Last fall, the Museum of Bible brought their traveling university exhibit, Sacra Pagina, to campus which highlights how individuals of the academic community approach and study the Bible.

The exhibit featured 13 items each answering a different question received from visitors of the museum about a particular aspect of biblical research. The 13 items included the 13th-century letters from Jerome, Erasmus’s Greek New Testament from 1521, which was used in the construction of the King James Version of the Bible and a replica of a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Museum of Bible’s corporate office is based out of Oklahoma City, OK with a 430,000 square-foot museum in Washington D.C. set to open in 2017.

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