Below are the thoughts of John Wesley Hughes, D.D., on why he founded Asbury College in 1890:
Why I Founded Asbury College
I joined the church, September 2, 1869; the following December I was converted. Then came a clear call of God to the ministry, all in my seventeenth year. I had no educational advantages at all. I immediately had a vision of real life, and began my preparation for the same. After several years of hard struggle through illiteracy and poverty, I got a fair equipment for the work of the ministry. I spent twelve years in the pastorate, one year in evangelistic work, in the midst of constant revivals. I was then called of God to the establishment of Asbury College. In my pastoral and evangelistic work, I often sent my converts to church schools to get educational equipment for the ministry and other Christian work, many of them being turned aside from their God-called work. I saw clearly the absolute need of a real full salvation college to educate boys and girls for their life work and especially poor boys and girls, preparing for the ministry and missionary work. However, Asbury College has always put special emphasis on the training of all classes of students, and doubtless will as long as it will hold to its original plan. I noted that all the secular colleges ignored the Bible and all real religious training. But few, if any, of that day, of the church colleges, put the Bible in the curriculum and emphasized the fundamental doctrines and experiences of Christianity.
The objective of Asbury College, from its beginning, in connection with a thorough college course of study, has been to get sinners converted, and believers sanctified, and the student body established in the experience and doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. Her religious motto from the beginning has been, “Free salvation for all men and full salvation from all sin.” With this in view, Asbury College was founded in 1890.
Asbury’s sole objective was to develop the entire man. I believed then, as I do now, that a well-rounded education involved a genuine Christian experience. To educate the body to the neglect of mind and the soul makes a man beastly. To educate the mind to the neglect of body and soul leads to dead intellectualism. To educate the soul to the neglect of mind and body results in fanaticism. Out of real Christian education come three great characteristics: self-reliance, aggressiveness, and the love of individual freedom toward self, man and God, which means a power to bring things to pass. This is what has differentiated Asbury College students, at home and in the heathen lands, from other students of other institutions of learning.
The character of Asbury College says if at any time the president of this college, or any of his associate teachers, should teach any doctrine contrary to the fundamental doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, the college shall revert to the National Holiness Association. Asbury College has had her success on the above teachings and will perish if she fails to keep step with God.