Education, God, and fools

College seminar

College seminar

A university professor recently wrote to the editor of my local newspaper to denounce the state legislature’s failure to fund state universities adequately.

It’s a Republican legislature, and in the professor’s eyes they’re afraid of education, and especially that getting an education will expose students to ideas that would make them question religion.

Society, religious or otherwise, would do well to be afraid of that sentiment. It’s quite a leap from naming a political party to the assumption of its religious motivation and a bigger leap from ideas that question religion to the implication that they will disprove religion and convert all the students to good Democrats.

This professor and too many other academics appear to have less interest in teaching students how to think than what to think. In all seriousness and sincerity, they have forgotten the distinction between education and indoctrination.

For the record, I have a doctorate and three master’s degrees. I grew up in a church that scoffed at stories of miracles or anything supernatural. Throughout my undergraduate years, I met lots of people who identified themselves as Christian, but only three who tried to persuade me of the truth of biblical teachings.

I only became a believer in the risen Christ and the revealed word of God after I started graduate school and after I read a book by C.S. Lewis, an Oxford philosophy professor.

Here is some of what Scripture has to say about the issue:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. – Romans 1:18-22

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” – Psalms 14:1, 53:1

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:28-21

Nothing C.S. Lewis learned  at Oxford kept him from becoming a Christian after having avowed atheism at age 15!

Nothing C.S. Lewis learned at Oxford kept him from becoming a Christian after having avowed atheism at age 15!

How should a Christian respond to this kind of foolishness? It is necessary to find a middle ground between two wrong ways.

Silence implies consent and confirms the fool in his folly. When Christians do not answer, the foolishness spreads and influences other people.

On the other hand, Proverbs 26:4 warns, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” It is both easy and pointless to get into a quarrel.

When we become embroiled in quarrels, it begins to seem more important to win the argument than to represent both the wisdom of Scripture and meekness of Jesus.

Christians are at war, but we have no human enemies. It is a spiritual warfare against demonic forces. God provides the proper weapons and armor. Every specific item mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-18 turns out to mean Scripture.

No soldier can properly use weapons without training, and the training comes from a close and personal relationship with the trainer. Christian training in spiritual warfare comes through all kinds of prayer. Especially the prayer to empty ourselves of ourselves and become more like Jesus.

Education in the eyes of the world means studying under the guidance of teachers, passing tests, writing papers, and earning degrees. Universities have been hothouses for heretical ideas from the very beginning. An educated Christian is one who gets and stays close enough to God to discern truth from error—and also develop a heart of meekness, compassion and love.

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College seminar. Pubic domain from Wikimedia Commons.
C.S. Lewis mural. Pubic domain from Wikimedia Commons.

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