By Alonzo T. Jones
A.T. Jones Biography | 1. Christian Education | 2. The World’s Education | 3. The Essentials to Knowledge | 4. The Secret of the Great Apostasy | 5. The Greek of “Scientific Method” Today | 6. The Separation of Christianity and the State | 7. The Bible’s Right to Supreme Place in Christian Education | 8. The Education of Daniel | 9. What Was Taught in the Schools of the Prophets
At age 20, A. T. Jones began three years of service in the Army. Interestingly enough, he spent much of his time pouring over large historical works, SDA publications, and the Bible. He was baptized when he left the Army, and began preaching on the West Coast. In May, 1885, he became editor of the Signs of the Times, and was later joined by E. J. Waggoner.
In 1888, these two men stirred the General Conference session in Minneapolis with their preaching on righteousness by faith. For several years thereafter, they preached on that subject from coast to coast. Ellen White accompanied them on many occasions. She saw in Jones’ presentations of "the precious subject of faith and the righteousness of Christ...a flood of light" (EGW, 1888 Materials, p. 291).
Jones was on the General Conference Committee in 1897 and editor-in-chief of the Review and Herald from 1897 to 1901.
In 1889, with J. O. Corliss, he spoke against a bill in the U.S. Congress on Sunday observance; the bill was defeated. Thereafter he was a prominent speaker for religious freedom, serving as editor of the forerunner of the Liberty magazine.
After being president of the California Conference (1901-1903), he joined Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s staff against the counsel of E.G. White, a move which, after a series of unfortunate misunderstandings and unwise choices, led to his separation from denominational employment and loss of church membership.
Jones remained a Sabbath observer and loyal to most of the other doctrines of the church. He is remembered especially for his part in bringing into prominence the doctrine of justification by faith.
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WHATSOEVER is not Christian, is not becoming to Christians. A Christian education is the only education that can possibly be becoming to Christians. In Christian education the Book of Christianity must be preeminent. The Bible is the Book of Christianity.
The purpose of Christian education is to build up Christians. Nothing that is not Christian can ever properly be brought into the education of a Christian, any more than can anything that is not Christian be properly brought into any other phase of the life of the Christian. Therefore, the Book of Christianity — the Bible — must be the standard of Christian education; it must be the test of everything that enters into the education of a Christian; and it must supply all that is needed in the education of the Christian. And this contemplates education in the highest, broadest, and best sense — the all-round, practical development of the individual, mentally, physically, and morally.
It has been, and it is, too much supposed that Christianity has to do only with a sort of spiritualized existence, apart from the real occupations and practical things of life. This will never do. Christianity belongs in the deepest sense as a vital working force, in all that ever rightly can go to make up the sum of human life upon the earth. And Christian education is true to its name and profession only when it demonstrates this all-pervading power of Christianity as a vital element in all that can properly enter into the course of human life.
It can not be denied that the life of Christ is the demonstration of Christianity. He is the model Man: the Pattern of what every man must be to be a perfect Christian. And it is certain that Christ in human flesh demonstrating the Christian life on earth, put Himself in vital connection with every true relationship of human life upon this earth. He came into the world an infant; He grew up from infancy to manhood, as people in this world do; He met all that human beings in this world meet as they grow up; He met all the vicissitudes and experiences of human life, precisely, as to the fact, as all people meet them; for “in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” He was “in all points tempted like as we are”; and He worked as a carpenter with Joseph, until the day of His showing unto Israel in the active work of His preaching, healing, and ministry. And He was just as much the Saviour of the world when He was sawing boards and making benches and tables, as He was when He was preaching the Sermon on the Mount. And this demonstrates that Christianity just as truly and as vitally enters into the mechanical or other affairs of every-day life as it does into the preaching of the divinest sermon that was ever delivered.
And yet, in all this Jesus was only the Word made flesh. The Word of God, in written form, was in the world before Jesus came in the flesh; but through the blindness and hardness of heart of men, that Word was not allowed to manifest itself truly in the flesh. He came that this might be allowed. In Him, the Word that was here before He came, was made flesh, and dwelt among men, as the model Man. Since, then, Jesus was the Word made flesh, nothing appeared in His life on earth that was not already in the Word. And since that which He was in the flesh was only what the Word was that was here before He came, it is certain that it was by the Word of God, through the Spirit of God, that He was made to be what He was, in the flesh. And this demonstrates that the Word of God, the Bible, the Book of Christianity, contains that which will completely educate mankind in an all-round, symmetrical life; and that no education is Christian that does not enter vitally into all the occupations and affairs of human life upon the earth.
The life of Christ, therefore, as it appeared upon the earth — that life being only the expression of the Word of God — causes to stand forth clearly and distinctly the great truth that the Bible, the Book of Christianity, is the greatest educational element, the greatest educational agency, the greatest educational Book, in the world. It is therefore true that in the Word of God, the Bible, are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” as truly as in Him, who in the flesh was but the expression of that Word. Accordingly, the Word of God is given, in order “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
This is the position which the Word of God occupied as an educational factor in the view of Christianity in ancient time, and this estimate is grandly echoed by that eminent Christian, the morning star of Christianity in modern times, John Wycliffe: “There is no subtlety, in grammar, neither in logic, nor in any other science that can be named, but that it is found in a more excellent degree in the Scriptures.”
WHEN Christianity, as such, began in the world, the Word of God was its educational Book. However, there was at that time in the world that which claimed to be education; and not only education, but the only education in any true sense. This which was claimed to be the true education, and which was accepted by the world as the only true education, had to be met by Christianity. And on this question of education, as in all other things, Christianity and the world were at direct opposites.
Christianity and this other education met at the then three great educational centers in the world; and we know how entirely at opposites they stood, because we have the words of Inspiration on the subject, defining exactly what that was which was held by the world to be education.
Corinth was one of the three educational centers in the world, at that time. “Corinth was the Vanity Fair of the Roman Empire; therefore, at once the London and the Paris of the first century after Christ” (Farrar). The great apostle to the Gentiles spent eighteen months in planting Christianity in that center of the world’s education; and when he had gone away, he wrote concerning heathendom and its education, these words: “After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).
The world had reached the point at which it did not know God. It was “by wisdom” that the world reached this point. It was “by wisdom” that the world was caused not to know God. And that wisdom was the world’s philosophy, the world’s science — in a word, the world’s education. Therefore, Inspiration plainly shows that that which was accepted by the world as education, was itself the means of their not knowing God. But Christianity is the definite and certain knowledge of God. How could any two things be more directly at opposites, than are a system which causes men definitely and certainly to know, and a system which definitely causes men not to know?
Ephesus was another of the three educational centers of the world. It was the most magnificent of “the magnificent cities of Asia.” “Its markets glittered with the produce of the world’s arts — were the Vanity Fair of Asia. Nor was any name more splendidly emblazoned in the annals of human culture, than that of the great capital of Iodia” (Farrar). In that cultured and educational city the great apostle to the Gentiles conducted a Christian school nearly two and a half years: first in the synagogue “for the space of three months,” and afterward, “when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years” (Acts 19:9, 10). He was establishing a distinctly Christian education as against a distinctly heathen education. That which led directly to the establishing of this specific school of Christian education, was that “divers were hardened, and believed not.” Then, from the promiscuous audience, Paul separated the disciples, those who believed, and taught daily in the school of Tyrannus the way of Christian education. As a consequence, many of the Gentiles of that cultured city became Christians. And when Paul wrote to the Ephesians, his epistle contained the following earnest words: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17, 18).
These Gentile people of the city of Ephesus were alienated (separated, cut off) from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them. It was their ignorance that was the cause of their separation from the life of God. But Ephesus was a center of education; and it was precisely that education that caused their alienation from the life of God. Yet Inspiration declares that they were alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them. It is, therefore, perfectly plain, that Inspiration defines their education to have been ignorance.
Athens was the third of these great centers of the world’s education. Athens was more than this: she was the mother of the then world’s education. Yea, she was even more than this: she was the mother, in a large sense, of that which has been the world’s education to this day. And to Athens also went the great apostle to the Gentiles. There he was brought before the Supreme Court, to be heard as to what bearing his teachings were having in the matter of being a “setter forth of strange gods.” And twice in his speech before that Court, and the assembled crowd, Inspiration uses the precise word that was used with reference to the world’s education in Ephesus. He said: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us; for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.
“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:22-31).
They had erected an altar in honor of the unknown God. In this, they “ignorantly worshiped.” That city was wholly given to idolatry, for it was full of idols of gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device, expressing their ideas of God; and “the times of this ignorance” God endured, but now commanded “all men everywhere to repent” of this “ignorance.” But do not forget that all this was but a part, the central part indeed, of the education of Athens, of the education which she imparted, of the education of which she was the mother. For that education culminated in art; that art was idolatry; and that idolatry was but the manifestation of ignorance. Therefore, again it is demonstrated that the world’s education, Greek education, at that time, was only ignorance. And when it is understood how supremely Athens prided herself upon the education which she gave to the world, some faint estimate can be formed of the depth of the spirit of their mockery in response to the word of a despised Jew, standing in such a presence, and defining it all as “ignorance,” and calling upon them to repent of their education.
Yet ignorance is precisely, and only, what it was. That alter with its inscription “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD,” was but a monument erected to their ignorance. For that word “ignorance” which Inspiration uses, is not merely a term captiously used, to imply that the world’s education was equivalent to ignorance, and was ultimately ignorance in that it did not attain to the knowledge of God; but it is a word definitely selected by Inspiration as truly defining, in its very essence, the real character of that education: that it was in itself “ignorance.” This is clearly seen when it is understood what the principle and the process of that education were. This is given by accepted authority.
Socrates was the great educator of Greece; and Greece, through Plato and Aristotle, was the educator of the world. And of Socrates it is written: “Socrates was not a ‘philosopher,’ nor yet a ‘teacher,’ but rather an ‘educator,’ having for his function ‘to rouse, persuade, and rebuke’” (Plato, Apology, 30 E). Hence, in examining his life’s work, it is proper to ask, not, “What was his philosophy?” but, “What was his theory, and what was his practice, of education?” He was brought to his theory of education by the study of previous philosophies, and his practice led to the Platonic revival.
“Socrates’ theory of education has for its basis a PROFOUND AND CONSISTENT SKEPTICISM.
“Taking his departure from some apparently remote principle or proposition to which the respondent yielded a ready assent, Socrates would draw from it an unexpected but undeniable consequence which was plainly inconsistent with the opinion impugned. In this way, he brought his interlocutor to pass judgment upon himself, and reduced him to a state of ‘doubt,’ or ‘perplexity.’ ‘Before I ever met you,’ says Meno in the Dialogue which Plato called by his name, ’I was told that you spent your time in doubting, and leading others to doubt; and it is a fact that your witcheries and spells have brought me to that condition’” (Encyclopedia Britannica, article “Socrates”).
Plato was the pupil and reporter of Socrates. Socrates himself left no writings. It is to Plato that the world owes almost all that it knows of Socrates, especially as to his “philosophy.” Thus, in the field of philosophy, speculation, and metaphysics, Plato is the great voice and continuator of Socrates. Aristotle was a disciple of Plato; but he broke away from the particularly philosophical and metaphysical speculations of his master, and turned especially to science and physics. Plato leaned to having all things culminate in philosophy. Aristotle leaned toward having all things culminate in science: he would “reduce even philosophy to science.” And Aristotle, like Plato, continued in education the identical principle of education which was entertained by Socrates and continued by Plato: that doubt is the way to knowledge. For with Aristotle it was a maxim that “to frame doubts well” is a service to the discovery of truth.
Thus, then, as stated concerning Socrates, the basis of the whole theory of Greek education, both in science and philosophy, was “doubt,” — “a profound and consistent skepticism.” Indeed, the principal idea of that philosophy is expressed in the word “doubt.” The history of philosophy is but the history of doubt.
Now, the essential characteristic and quality of doubt is that it definitely causes him who exercises it, not to know. So long as any one doubts a thing, he can not know that thing. And not to know, is simply ignorance. Since, therefore, the basis of the great Greek educator’s theory of education was “doubt,” — “a profound and consistent skepticism”; and since the essential quality of doubt causes him who exercises it not to know; it follows that Greek education, being founded in doubt, and built up through doubt, was essentially ignorance. And Inspiration pierced to the very core of the whole system when it repeatedly defined that education as “ignorance.” And the word “ignorance” was definitely chosen by the Spirit of Inspiration simply because it essentially defined the thing.
WE may be told that which is veritably true, the essential truth of God; yet if we doubt it, and so long as we doubt it, we never can know it. Therefore, doubt is essentially and only the open door to ignorance.
Further, we may be told that which is altogether false, an outright lie; yet though we believe it, however implicitly, we never can know it. This, for the simple reason that it is not so; and it is impossible to know what is not so.
Therefore there are just two things which are essential to knowing. These two things are truth and faith.
Truth and faith are the two essentials to knowledge: and the first of these in order is truth. This, for the reason already stated, that however implicitly we may believe that which is not so, we never can know it. Therefore, since that which is believed must be true in order to be known, it follows that truth is the first essential to knowledge. And since even the sincerest truth, when told, can not be known without our believing it, it follows that the second essential to knowledge is faith. Truth and faith, therefore, working together — the truth believed — is the way to knowledge.
This can be illustrated by an experience familiar to almost all. It is the truth that A is A. We believed this truth, and thus, and thus only, we know that A is A. If we had not believed that truth when we were told it, we should not now know that A, B, C, D, etc., are what they are; and had we never believed this, we never could have known it. If in this we had asked for proof as a basis for belief, we never could have had it, and so never could have believed, and so never could have known this fundamental thing in all literary knowledge. We could have had no proof, apart from itself, that A or any other letter of the alphabet is what it is.
There is proof of this, but the proof is in the letter itself; and by believing it, by receiving it for what it is we obtain the knowledge; and in this knowledge and by experience we obtain the proof. For in each of the letters of the alphabet there is a value which responded to our belief: a value which has never failed and which never will fail us. We know that each of the letters is what it is: and all the philologists, philosophers, and scientists in all the world could not convince us that any letter of the alphabet is other than it simply is. And yet the means by which we know this is simple belief of a simple, and simply-told, truth.
This thought, this illustration, does not stop here. The first two letters of the Greek alphabet are Alpha and Beta. Dropping the “a” from Beta, these two Greek letters give us our word Alpha-bet. This word “alphabet” signifies all the letters of the English language. How comes this, when the word itself is derived from only the first two of the letters of the Greek language?
It comes in a very simple way. When we, in our language, wish to ask whether a person knows, or we wish to say that a person does not know, the alphabet, we most commonly ask not. “Does he know the alphabet?” nor, “Does he know the A B C D E F G H I J K L M N” and so on through to “Z?” but we ask, “Does he know the A B C’s?” or we say, “He does not know his A B C’s.” The Greeks did the same way: When they wished to express the same thought, they did not say, “Does he know the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon,” and so on to “Omega?” but simply, “Does he know the Alpha Beta?” or, “He does not know the Alpha Beta.” And this Greek abbreviation of the whole list of the letters of that language into only “Alpha Beta” comes down to us with the dropping of the “a” from Beta; and so becomes our word “alphabet,” the abbreviation of the whole list of the letters of our language.
In common English there is a concise way of saying that a person knows little or nothing of a subject, in the expression, “He does not know the A B C of it.” The Greeks had the same, “He does not know the Alpha Beta of it.” On the other hand, there is a concise way of saying that a person is thoroughly informed, or knows all of a subject, in the expression, “He knows that subject from A to Z,” or, old style, “from A to Izzard” The Greeks had the same, “He knows that subject from Alpha to Omega” — he knows all there is to be known of it. And this is the basis and the thought in the expression of Christ in the book of Revelation several times, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
Jesus is the Alphabet of God. As the expression “Alpha and Omega” signifies the whole alphabet, and embraces all there is in the Greek language; and “A to Z” signifies the whole alphabet, all that there is in the English language; so Jesus Christ, the Alphabet of God, embraces all that there is of the language or knowledge of God. As in the twenty-four letters of the Greek Alphabet from Alpha to Omega there are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the world of that language; and as in the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet there are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that there are in the world of the English language; so in Jesus Christ, the Alphabet of God, there are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that there are in the universe of the language of God.
And this Alphabet of God is learned in precisely the same way and with precisely the same faculty as is the alphabet of Greek, or English, or any other language. The Alphabet of God is the truth. We believe that truth and thus we know that He is what He is. There is proof of this, but the proof is in Himself. By believing this Alphabet, by receiving Him for what He is, we obtain the knowledge; and in this knowledge and by experience of it we have the constant living proof. For in this Alphabet of God, in each letter, yea, in each jot and tittle, there is a value that responds to our faith: a value that never has failed, that never will fail, and that never can fail, to respond to any man’s belief of that Alphabet. And to him who thus knows the Alphabet of God, all the philosophers and all the scientists and all the unbelievers in all the world can not prove to him that any part of this Alphabet is not what He is. Indeed, anyone attempting to prove any such thing only thereby reveals the fact that he does not yet know the true Alphabet: he does not yet know his A B C’s.
It is only as a little child that we learn; it is only as a little child any one can learn, the alphabet of the English language. Though a man were a thousand years old, and fully possessed of all his faculties, and yet did not know the A B C’s, the alphabet of English, he would have to become as a little child in order to learn it, in order to receive the knowledge that A is A: he would have to simply believe it as does the little child, and by believing that each letter is what it is, when he were told, he would know. And if he should refuse to believe this, by this very refusal — by his unbelief itself — he would be condemned — he would thus condemn himself — to everlasting loss of all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are hid in the world of English.
So also it is with the Alphabet of the language and knowledge of God. It is only by believing this Alphabet that any person can ever know Him. If any one refuses to believe, he can not know. And whosoever believeth not is by this very unbelief condemned — he by this condemns himself — to everlasting loss of all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of God: all of which lie hidden in the Alphabet of God. For as it is by various combinations of the contents of the alphabet that words are formed, and words express thought; so the manifold combinations of the contents of the Alphabet of God form the Word of God, and the Word of God expresses the thought of God.
Therefore Jesus Christ announced the eternal principle of true learning when He declared, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in nowise enter therein.” The little child does receive the kingdom of God. He receives it by simply believing the simple statement of the Word of the kingdom. This is how every one receives, and how every one must receive, the kingdom of English or of any other language. It is how every one must receive the kingdom of God. To receive the kingdom of God, and to know the Alphabet of God, is as easy as to know the A B C’s. Therefore to learn, not as a philosopher, but as a little child, is the true way to knowledge. The truth and faith, working together — the truth believed — is forever the true way to knowledge.
Accordingly when God would seek to save the world from the ruin of its ignorance, He did it by presenting to the world the truth to be believed. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching [the preaching of the Word, which is the truth: the preaching of Christ, who is the Truth] to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:21-24).
We have read the words of Inspiration that it was by wisdom that the world knew not (was ignorant of) God. We have also read the words of Inspiration that the Gentiles were alienated (separated, cut off) from the life of God, through the ignorance that was in them. We have seen that in the wisdom of God, and in the essential truth of the case, the world’s wisdom was ignorance: and that not only was the world in its ignorance alienated from the life of God, but that it was by this ignorance itself that the world was alienated from the life of God.
Since, then, it is the characteristic of ignorance to separate men from the life of God; on the other hand, it is the characteristic of knowledge that it joins men to the life of God, which is eternal life. Accordingly, it is written: “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” This is equally true, read only in the words, “This is life eternal, that they might know.” So that, as certainly as ignorance, being the product of doubt, by which men can not know, alienates men from the life of God; so certainly knowledge, being the product of faith in the truth, by which men certainly know, unites men to the life of God.
We have seen that it is belief of the truth alone which brings men to knowledge: and since Jesus Christ is “the Truth,” it follows that faith in Christ as the Word of God is the only way to knowledge. Accordingly, again, Inspiration draws clearly the distinction between the world of Greek wisdom, which was ignorance; and faith in Christ, which is the way of knowledge. And so it is written: “My aim is that they may be encouraged, and be bound to one another by love, so attaining to the full blessedness of a firm and intelligent conviction, and to a perfect knowledge of God’s secret truths which are embodied in Christ. For all God’s treasures of wisdom and knowledge are to be found STORED UP IN CHRIST. I say this to prevent any one deceiving you by plausible arguments. It is true that I am not with you in person, but I am with you in spirit: and I rejoice to know of your good order and of the solid front which you present through your faith in Christ.
“Since, then, you have received Jesus, the Christ, as your Lord, live your lives in union with Him — rooted in Him, building up your lives upon Him, growing stronger through your faith, true to the teaching you received, rich in faith, and always giving thanks. Take care there is not some one who will capture you by his ‘philosophy’ — a hollow sham! Such teaching follows mere human traditions, and has to do with puerile questions of the world, and not with Christ. For the Godhead in all its fullness dwells in Christ in a bodily form; and, by your union with Him, you also are filled with it.”
Again, this contrast between the world’s ignorance and God’s knowledge is clearly drawn in I Corinthians 1:18 to 2:10, and, as translated in the Twentieth Century version, reads: “The Message of the Cross is indeed mere folly to people who are on the way to Ruin, but to us who are on the way to Salvation it is the very power of God. Indeed, Scripture says:
“‘I will bring the wisdom of the wise to nothing, And make the cleverness of the clever of no account.’
“Where are the wise men? Or the teachers of religion? Or the critical people of today? Has not God shown the world’s wisdom to be folly? For since the world, in God’s wisdom, did not by its own wisdom get to know God, God saw fit, by the ‘folly’ of our proclamation, to save those who believe it! While Jews are asking for miraculous signs and Greeks are seeking for wisdom, we are proclaiming Christ who has been crucified! To the Jews He is an obstacle, to the heathen He is mere folly, but to those who have received the Call, whether Jews or Greeks, He is Christ — God’s power and God’s wisdom. For God’s ‘folly’ is wiser than men, and God’s ‘weakness’ is stronger than men!
“Look, Brothers, at the facts of your Call. There are not many among you who are wise as men reckon wisdom, not many who are influential, not many who are high-born; but God chose what the world calls foolish to put its wise men to shame, and God chose what the world calls weak to put its ‘strength’ to shame, and God chose those whom the world calls low-born and beneath regard — mere nobodies — to put down its ‘somebodies,’ so that in His presence no human being should boast. But you, by your union with Christ Jesus, are God’s offspring; and Christ, by God’s will, became not only our Wisdom, but also our Righteousness, our Holiness, our Deliverance, so that — in the words of Scripture — ‘Let those who boast, boast about the Lord.” The Twentieth Century New Testament translation of this passage (Colossians 2:2-10) is so expressive that it is here used.
“For my own part, Brothers, when I came to you, I did not come to tell you of the secret truths of God in the fine language of philosophy; for I had determined that, while with you, I would know nothing but Jesus Christ — and Him as one crucified! Indeed, when I found myself among you, I felt weak and timid and greatly agitated. My Message and my Proclamation were not delivered in the persuasive language of philosophy; but they were accompanied by manifestations of spiritual power, so that your faith should be based, not on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God.
“Yet what we speak of among those whose faith is matured is really wisdom, but it is not the wisdom of today nor the wisdom of the leaders of today — men whose downfall is at hand. No, the wisdom we speak of, when we deal with secret truths, is divine; it is the long-hidden wisdom, which God, before time began, decreed, that it might bring us glory. This wisdom is not known to any of the leaders of to-day. Had they known it, they would not have crucified our glorious Master. But Scripture speaks of it as:
“‘What no eye ever saw, what no car ever heard, what never entered the mind of man — all that God prepared for those who love Him. Yet to us God revealed it through His Spirit; for the Spirit fathoms everything, even the profoundest secrets of God’.”
IN spite of the infinite contrast repeatedly drawn by Inspiration in the Scriptures between Greek ignorance and Christian knowledge, Christianity had barely become rooted in the world before there were those amongst the Christians who began to incline to the world’s way, and to claim virtue for Greek ignorance. And this was the origin of the great apostasy.
The exaltation of worldly wisdom, which was but Greek ignorance, was the secret of the “falling away” from the truth of the gospel. And the divine warning against this thing was especially urged to the Ephesians. First, in the letter to the Ephesians, as follows: “This, then, is what I say unto you and urge upon you in the Lord’s name. Do not continue to live as the heathen are living in their perverseness. Owing to the ignorance existing among them and the hardening of their hearts, their powers of discernment are darkened, and they are cut off from the Life of God. For lost to all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, in order to practice every kind of impurity without restraint.
“But as for you, FAR DIFFERENT is the lesson that you learnt from the Christ — if, that is, you really listened to Him, and by living in union with Him were taught the Truth, as it is to be found in Jesus. For you learnt with regard to your former life that you must lay aside your old nature, which, owing to the passions fostered by Error, was in a corrupt state; and that you must undergo a mental and spiritual transformation, and once for all clothe yourselves with a new nature — one made to resemble God in the righteousness and holiness demanded by the Truth” (Ephesians 4:17-24).
And again, at that important meeting when, from Miletus, Paul “sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church,” in his address to them, he spoke thus: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32).
This apostasy was the burden of the apostle’s warning, not only at Ephesus, but in other places. At Thessalonica, both in his preaching and in his letter to the Thessalonians, he dwelt much upon this. For concerning the day of the coming of the Lord in glory, having in his first letter written much of this, he wrote to them in his second letter thus: “As to the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and our being gathered to meet Him, we beg you, Brothers, not lightly to let your minds become unsettled, nor yet to be alarmed by any so-called ‘inspired’ statement, or by any message, or by any letter, purporting to come from us, to the effect that the day of the Master is here. Do not let any one deceive you, try as they may. For come it will not, until after the Great Apostasy and the appearing of that Incarnation of Wickedness, who is born for destruction, and who opposes himself to every one that is spoken of as a God or as an object of worship, and so exalts himself above them that he seats himself in the Temple of God, and displays himself as actually being God!” (II Thessalonians 2:1-4). Then, after having thus stated what that apostasy would reveal, he appeals to the memory of the Thessalonians, thus: “Do you not recollect how, when I was with you, I used to speak to you of all this?”
Much more is said of this in the Scriptures, but there is no need to cite more of it here. This is sufficient to enable all to see how certainly the apostasy was connected with the bringing in of worldly ignorance, and the mingling of it with the knowledge of God. And it was only in proportion that worldly ignorance — science falsely so called — was brought in, that the apostasy grew. And when the apostasy gained the ascendancy, it was but the ascendancy, under the Christian name, of the original Pagan Greek philosophy and science — Greek ignorance — in the professed Christian Church.
Against this evil, the apostles preached, wrote, and warned, all their days. For they saw the enormous consequences that must result from the entertainment only of the small beginnings that were apparent, even in their day. Yet in less than fifty years after the death of the last of the apostles, this apostasy had become so prominent that there were schools of it conducted under the Christian name and passing for Christian schools. The leaders in this thing, the heads of these schools, made the so-called philosophy of the world their standard; and amongst the standard world’s philosophers they regarded Plato as “wiser than all the rest, and as especially remarkable for treating the Deity, the soul, and things remote from sense, so as to suit the Christian scheme” (Mosheim).
This thing was readily adopted by large classes of would-be philosophers and their imitators, who thus could assume the credit of being Christians without any of the self-denial or the correction of the inner life that is essential to Christian experience. The same old heathen life could be maintained under the name and profession of Christianity. This evil made such progress that it was not long before “the estimation in which human learning should be held was a question upon which the Christians were about equally divided. Many recommended the study of philosophy and an acquaintance with the Greek and Roman literature; while others maintained that these were pernicious to the interests of genuine Christianity and the progress of true piety.
“The cause of letters and philosophy triumphed, however, by degrees; and those who wished well to them continued to gain ground, till at length the superiority was manifestly decided in their favor. This victory was principally due to the influence of Origen, who, having been early instructed in the new kind of Platonism already mentioned, blended it, though unhappily, with the purer and more sublime tenets of a celestial doctrine, and recommended it in the warmest manner to the youth who attended his public lessons. The fame of this philosopher increased daily among the Christians; and in proportion to his rising credit, his method of proposing and explaining the doctrines of Christianity gained authority, till it became almost universal” (Id).
The position of Origen at that time may be estimated from the fact that to this day he is one of the chiefest of the Fathers of the church; and from the further fact that “from the days of Origen to those of Chrysostom [A.D. 220-400], there was not a single eminent commentator who did not borrow largely from the works of Origen”; and “he was the chief teacher of even the most orthodox of the Western Fathers.”
“Innumerable expositors in this and the following centuries pursued the method of Origen, though with some diversity; nor could the few who pursued a better method make much head against them.”
But “this new species of philosophy, imprudently adopted by Origen and other Christians, did immense harm to Christianity. For it led the teachers of it to involve in philosophic obscurity many parts of our religion, which were in themselves plain, and easy to be understood; and to add to the precepts of the Saviour no few things of which not a word can be found in the Holy Scriptures. . . . It recommended to Christians various foolish and useless rites, suited only to nourish superstition, no small part of which we see religiously observed by many even to the present day. And finally, it alienated the minds of many in the following centuries from Christianity itself; and produced a heterogeneous species of religion, consisting of Christian and Platonic principles combined. And who is able to enumerate all the evils and injurious changes that arose from this new philosophy — or, if you please, from this attempt to reconcile TRUE AND FALSE RELIGIONS with each other?” (Mosheim).
The result of all this is expressed in the one word — “the Papacy,” as it has been, and as it is. Then occurred a curious though perfectly logical thing: In order to be “scientific,” the apostasy adopted that pagan science falsely so called. Then, when she had filled the world with this pagan ignorance as Christian knowledge, and true science in the simple reading of nature sought recognition, she anathematized, and prohibited, and persecuted it.
That philosophic trend, as already stated, found its spring in Plato. But when it is borne in mind that Plato was only the reporter and continuator of Socrates, who was the great Greek educator, the basis of whose system of education was only “a profound and consistent skepticism,” it is plainly seen that this system of the new Platonism which made the Papacy was nothing else than the system of Greek education swung in under the Christian name, and passed off as Christian knowledge when it was only Pagan ignorance.
And this is “how” it is that “we are to account for the supreme elevation of this man [Plato] in the intellectual history of our race.” This is “how it happens that the writings of Plato have preoccupied every school of learning, every lover of thought, every church, every poet — making it impossible to think, on certain levels, except through him.” This is how it is that “he stands between the truth and every man’s mind, and has almost impressed language, and the primary forms of thought, with his name and seal” (Representative Men, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, page 46). And this is also how it is that “in the history of European thought and knowledge, down to the period of the revival of letters, the name of Aristotle was without a rival, supreme. . . . It even came to pass that, for a long period, all secular writings but those of Aristotle had dropped out of use in Europe . . . . All sought in Aristotle the basis of knowledge. Universities and grammar schools were founded in Aristotle” (Encyclopedia Britannica, article “Aristotle”).
And this, in turn, is how it is that when Christianity was revived for modern times, in the great Reformation, when Luther began to preach Christianity, and to introduce Christian education anew into the world, he was compelled to meet, to renounce, and to denounce, Aristotle, and other teachers of “a deceitful-philosophy,” as follows:
“Do not attach yourself to Aristotle, or to other teachers of a deceitful philosophy; but diligently read the Word of God.
“He who says that a theologian who is not a logician is an heretic and an adventurer, maintains an adventurous and heretical proposition.
“There is no form of syllogism which accords with the things of God.
“In one word, Aristotle is to theology as darkness to light.
“Aristotle, that blind heathen, has displaced Christ.”
And again, of education wholly: “I much fear the universities will become wide gates to hell, if due care is not taken to explain the Holy Scriptures and engrave it on the hearts of the students. My advice to every person is, not to place his child where the Scripture does not reign paramount. Every institution in which the studies carried on lead to a relaxed consideration of the Word of God must prove corrupting.”
The special point in this will be more clearly seen when it is understood that in the Greek system, logic was the test of truth: than which it would be impossible to make a greater mistake.
And it was the double placing of the worldly ignorance of Greek philosophy and logic — Plato and Aristotle — above the divine knowledge of the Word of God, that, at the very beginning of this revival of Christianity for modern times, led Wycliffe to declare that “there is no subtlety in grammar, neither in logic, nor in any other science that can be named, but that it is found in a more excellent degree in the Scriptures.”
Such was the key-note of the Reformation. And though to the sincere Christian it is all so plain and true; yet after the death of Luther, when the apostasy of Protestantism had begun to come in, in less than one hundred years Aristotle was again given the chief place in the seats of learning, and the Greek system of education was continued; so that today it reigns supreme in the schools of both the Church and the State, even in professed Christian and Protestant lands.
IT is certain that Christianity, in ancient times, and at its revival in modern times, found, and held, and proclaimed, that the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, is the only true and sufficient basis of an all-round education for Christians. Disregard of this principle in the early days of Christianity developed the Papacy; and disregard of this principle in these last days of Christianity is developing through Protestantism a repetition of the course of the Papacy.
To professed Protestantism today, the Bible is not held in any true sense as an educational book. The science of the unbelieving world, the philosophy and the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, have a far larger place than has the Bible, in that which is recognized by Protestants as education. The highest course in college or university is the classical; and this course derives its title of “classical” from the fact that the literature of Greece and Rome is the predominant element in the course. This is true, even with those who are studying for the ministry of the gospel of Christ. But how the study, for years, of literature which is essentially Pagan can be a preparation for the preaching of the gospel which must be wholly Christian, no one has attempted to explain.
Not only is worldly science and Pagan literature more courted by Protestantism than is the Bible, in education; but the very theory of education held by Socrates, and continued by Plato and Aristotle — “doubt,” “a profound and consistent skepticism,” — is held today in the education recognized by Protestantism, in school, college, university, and even in the theological seminary. For instance, the Outlook of April 21, 1900, in describing and urging “A Needed Educational Reform,” says:
“The educational processes of our time — possibly of all time — are largely analytical and critical. They consist chiefly in analyzing the subjects brought to the student for his examination, separating them into their constituent parts, considering how they have been put together, and sitting in judgment on the finished fabric. Or on the process by which it has been constructed. . . . The process presupposes an inquiring, if not a skeptical, mood. Doubt is the pedagogue which leads the pupil to knowledge.”
And in the North American Review for April 1900, there was published an article entitled “The Scientific Method in Theology,” written by a professor of philosophy in Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.; who was educated at Amherst and Yale; spent two years in philosophical study in Germany; and from 1883 to 1885 was instructor of philosophy in Wesleyan University. Thus, every circumstance of the article is a pledge that it is authoritative as to the scientific method in theology, and in that article it is said:
“Every man, because he is a man, is endowed with powers for forming judgments, and he is placed in this world to develop and apply those powers to all objects with which he comes in contact. In every sphere of investigation, he should begin with DOUBT, and the student will make the most rapid progress who has acquired the art of doubting well . . . . We ask that every student of theology take up the subject precisely as he would any other science: that he begin with DOUBT.”
It never can be denied that this is simply the repetition in modern times of the Socratic theory of education. And this, not only in college and university, but in the theological seminary where young men are professedly to be trained in “the science concerned with ascertaining, classifying, and systematizing all attainable truth concerning God, and His relation to the universe; the science of religion; religious truth scientifically studied.” This, not only in college and university, where men are to be fitted only for the everyday affairs of the world; but in a professedly Christian school, where men are to be fitted preeminently for the Christian profession, and to be educators in Christianity.
In every sphere of investigation, the student is taught and expected to “begin with doubt,” in this study of the science of the “truth concerning God.” And this when the truth of God itself, given in His own Word, is that “without faith it is impossible to please Him”; and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Since, then, God has stated it, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him,” and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”; and since, in the theological seminaries of professed Christianity, the student is expected, “in every sphere of investigation,” to “begin with doubt,” it is certain that in that system of education, every student is systematically taught to begin in the way in which it is impossible to please God, and which is only the way of sinning. And this as the preparation for the ministry of the gospel!
This authoritative statement of the scientific method in theology shows that even in the Protestant schools of today, in which is taught particularly the science of the knowledge of God, the process is directly opposite to that which is stated in the Word of the Lord Himself. God has said that “he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and [must believe] that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The “scientific method” of education today, even in Protestant schools which teach the science of God, is inevitably that he who cometh to God must doubt that He is, and must doubt that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
The result of such a process can not possibly be anything else than that a man — each individual for himself, or else, and ultimately, a representative for all — shall put himself above God; and there, sitting as judge, subject the wisdom and knowledge of God to the dictates of human reason.
Nor is this simply a deduction from the quotation already made, though it is clearly deducible from that quotation. It is actually stated in this article in the sentences immediately following the one already quoted:
“We ask that every student of theology take up the subject precisely as he would any other science: that he begin with doubt, and carefully weigh the arguments for every doctrine, accepting or rejecting each assertion, according as the balance of probabilities is for or against it. We demand that he thoroughly ‘test all things,’ and thus learn how to ‘hold fast that which is good.’ We believe that even the teachings of Jesus should be viewed from this standpoint, and should be accepted or rejected on the ground of their inherent reasonableness.”
Thus, reason being set above Jesus Christ — who is God manifest — to analyze, to criticize, to judge, His teachings, for acceptance or rejection, as the individual’s doubting reason shall decide — this is manifestly to set reason above God: which, in turn, is to put reason itself in the place of God as God.
Follow this process a little in its direct working, and see how completely it lands today precisely where Inspiration declares that it landed in its original course, and in its prime:
“The great and distinctive element in all induction is the formation of the hypothesis, and there can be no inductive science formed, of any sort, where this is not the chief feature.” “What, then, is to be understood by a hypothesis? And what is the process the mind goes through in bringing it to view? — A hypothesis is a supposition, a guess, or conjecture, as to what the general effect is which includes the given particular effects, or what the cause is which has brought about the given effects.
“Much might be said about the conditions most favorable for the making of a good hypothesis; but the chief thing that concerns us for our present purpose is the fact that every hypothesis, however formed, is always the product of the constructive imagination. All previous acts are simply by way of gathering material for the imagination to rearrange, and recombine into a new creation. . . .
“It is for this reason that men of science, in all realms and in all ages, have always been men of powerful imaginations. The Greeks were the first great scientists of the race, because they were far more highly endowed than any other people with great imaginative powers. What they saw, excited these powers, and urged them to conjecture, to reason about things, and try to explain their nature and cause.”
There is here no room to inquire whether or not this process today lands where landed the same process in ancient Greece; because that is where precisely, in so many words, the article itself lands. And how could this process be more fittingly described than it is in the Scripture, written directly as descriptive of this identical process in ancient time: “When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23).
And how can the rest of the description there given (Romans 1:24-32) be escaped, when this process shall be followed today? For even in the quotation last above made, it is admitted that the scientific method in theology today is identical with that of old, of which the Greeks, “the first great scientists of the race,” were the exemplars; and this, “because they were far more highly endowed than any other people with great imaginative powers.” And their exercise of these “great imaginative powers” in precisely the way above outlined, did lead them into the condition which is described in the remaining verses of the first chapter of Romans.
And yet, this process, by means of “the constructive imagination,” contemplates “a new creation!” And who shall be the creator in this new creation? — None other than the human individual himself, who by guesses gathers “material for the imagination to rearrange, and recombine, into a new creation.” This, then, makes man a creator in the place of the Creator.
Follow yet further the scientific process in theology, and see what is the ground upon which its followers land, as to knowledge:
“Given the hypothesis, the next step in the scientific process is to verify it: and this is done by making the hypothesis the major premise of a deductive syllogism, and noting the results. If the conclusions coincide with the obtained facts, with which we started, the hypothesis is probably the correct one [the italics here are the author’s]; and other things being equal, may be accepted as established truth. From this outline of the scientific method, we see that no induction can be established beyond a high degree of probability; that is, no one can ever be absolutely certain that the hypothesis he assumes is veritably true. All generalizations in every science thus have their logical basis in the theory of probabilities.
“When Bishop Butler asserted that ‘probability is the very guide of life,’ he might have added, ‘and we have no other.’ . . .
“Great thinkers, from Thales, Plato, and Moses, have had their theologies — their explanations of the origin of the universe, as they understood it — and many of these explanations have been of extraordinary merit; but even St. Paul himself could never have been certain that his explanation was more than a probably true one.”
Than is therein stated, how could it be possible more clearly to state the impossibility of attaining to knowledge by that method? The result of this method, as here authoritatively stated, is exactly described in the Scripture concerning our own time when it speaks of those who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7).
And, as if this writer should make it absolutely certain that only probability is the sole ground as to knowledge, which can ever be reached by this process, he really goes to the limit, and declares:
“Whether there ever existed on the earth such a person as Jesus, and what He experienced, are purely matters of historical evidence. And as everything that is a matter of evidence is a matter of probability, this must be also.” And where does the process finally land? What is its ultimate?
“In a certain sense, the mind takes a leap into the dark: it literally passes per sallum [by a leap] from the realm of the known to the realm of the unknown.”
And that is precisely where this process landed, and this was its ultimate, in ancient time, when at Athens, the fountain of this theory of education, they set up that monument of their ignorance, with its inscription, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”
But such is not the Christian process, nor is such the ultimate of the Christian process. In the Christian process, faith, which is the gift of God, accepts the truth of God; and thus in the mind and heart there is accomplished “a new creation.” And the Creator in this new creation is God Himself, manifest through Jesus Christ our Lord, by the Holy Ghost. And in this, in the truest sense, the mind takes a leap, not “into the dark,” but into the light. It truly, “literally, passes per saltum,” not “from the realm of the known to the realm of the unknown,” but from the realm of the unknown, the realm of ignorance, to the realm of the known, the realm of certain knowledge, even the knowledge of God. For we “know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ” (I John 5:20).
Does this not show, then, that the world in this time, and by this means, has well-nigh reached the point which in ancient times it had attained when the world by wisdom knew not God, and was alienated from the life of God through its ignorance? And are we not therefore also in the time when again in the wisdom of God it shall please God “by the foolishness of preaching” — preaching the plain, simple, powerful gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God — “to save them that believe?”
It is not true that “we have no other guide of life” than “the theory of probabilities.” We have as the guide of life the certainty of truth, in the Word of God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, who Himself is “the Truth,” through the Spirit of God, who is the very “Spirit of truth.”
It is not true that “even St. Paul himself could never have been certain that his explanation was more than a probably true one.” For Paul’s explanation was simply the preaching of the truth of God, derived from God. And not only Paul, but every other Christian, can be certain that the Word of God which he receives is certitude itself. And this certitude of the knowledge of truth he finds, not by reason guided by doubt, but by revelation to faith.
Whether there ever existed on earth such a person as Jesus, and what He experienced, are far more than merely “matters of historical evidence.” And it is not true that “this must be” only a matter of probability. Every Christian knows that Christ lived in this world, that He was crucified that He died and rose again, and that He lives today. For every Christian knows by veritable knowledge of revelation and experience that Jesus is acquainted with every feature of his life in the flesh. Every Christian knows that Jesus was crucified; because he himself has been crucified with Him. Every Christian knows that Jesus died, for he himself has died with Him. Every Christian knows that Jesus rose from the dead, for he himself is risen with Him. And every Christian knows that Jesus, having risen from the dead lives today; for he himself lives with Him. Nor is this, in any sense, a guess, or a conjecture. It is a matter of very truth, in the certitude of knowledge.
Yet these simple things which every Christian knows, and which are but the A B C of Christianity, demonstrate that true Christianity, and even the professed Christian world today, are again set completely at opposites by the world’s method of education. And these statements of the methods of education today, methods recognized even by the Protestant churches, show that instead of doubt being as is professed, “the pedagogue which leads to knowledge” upon the authority of its own masters it is seen to be what it is in truth, the positive and chosen obstruction to all knowledge.
The Outlook presented it as a “problem of education” that “sorely needs to be taken up by our educators” — “the problem how religion can be preserved and promoted while education is being acquired.” That is intensely true. But that problem never can be solved by any method of education of which doubt is in any degree an element; for doubt simply undermines all true religion. Faith, faith is the grand element of the true religion. It is only by an education in which faith is the beginning, the process, and the end that can ever be solved “the problem how religion can be preserved and promoted while education is being acquired.” And this will do it; for this is Christian education.
Surely there is needed, and sorely needed, today, an educational reform. And, since the educational process of today is one in which doubt is the beginning the course, and the end, it is certain that the only true educational reform for today is one in which faith is the beginning, the course, and the end: and that faith, the faith of Jesus Christ, the faith which enables him who exercises it to comprehend, to understand, and to know, the truth, and only the truth — the truth as it is in Jesus.
In this it is not implied that in everything the Greeks were absolutely ignorant. There were many things that they learned as little children. There were many valuable facts of observation and experience that they knew. But in that which was their philosophy and their science, that which to them was preeminently wisdom and knowledge — in this they were absolutely ignorant. And this which to them was preeminently wisdom and knowledge, but which was in truth sheer confused ignorance — this was made to color all else and give to that the cast of ignorance.
That which was as plainly true and easily to be understood as that A is A was not allowed to remain plain and simple knowledge, but it must first be doubted, and then through a process of hypothesis, premise, and conclusion, and then a new premise and conclusion, must be reasoned out to a final conclusion, and so “demonstrated.” And thus that which was simple truth, and easily known if only believed, was overshadowed and utterly vitiated by their doubting and skeptical reasoning. Thus truth, faith, and knowledge were annihilated; and in their place was substituted falsity, doubt, and ignorance.
They “changed the truth of God into a lie . . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness” (Romans 1:25-29).
It is proper to inquire: What did Greek education accomplish for the Greeks, both directly and ultimately?
It can never be denied that mentally, Greek education carried the Greeks to the highest point that has ever been attained in this world in education that was only human. The Greek language was developed by the Greek mind to the point wherein it excelled all other human language in its capacity and facility of expressing nice distinctions of thought. Of this it has been well said that “It traces with ease distinctions so subtle as to be lost in every other language. It draws lines where all other instruments of the reason only make blots.”
In art, whether in sculpture or in architecture, the Greek education developed a standard that has never in the world been equaled. In physical culture, the development of the human form, also, Greek education attained the highest point that has ever been reached by any nation.
All this, Greek education undeniably did for the Greeks. But what did it do for them morally? Mental attainments that developed the fullest of all human languages, the most consummate skill in art, and the completest symmetry of the human form — what did these attainments develop as to character? Everybody knows that the results in this respect could not be truly set down in this book, without endangering its seizure by the police; and making the author liable to prosecution for circulating obscene literature.
It is impossible to walk amongst even the ruins of Greek art without being constantly offended with the perpetual portrayal and even the deification of drunkenness and lust, in the otherwise marvelous productions. In poetry, the highest form of that wonderful language, it is the same. The Greek poets developed a mythology in which the gods were portrayed as perpetually indulging the basest of human passions, and in which every idea of divinity was debased to the most degraded level of humanity.
And what did this education — the literature, the art, the physical culture, all that it produced — do for the Roman people when adopted by them? Deep-dyed as was the iniquity of Rome before she expanded into Greece, yet this iniquity was only given a deeper touch by that which was derived from Greece. Romans 1:21-32 is a description of both. And the world knows the ultimate results — Greece and Rome perished so entirely that no part remained. The people of Greece today are not Greeks; the Greek nation today is not Greek. The people of Rome are not Romans. The world knows that Greece and Rome were annihilated by the flood of the barbarians of the wild forests of Germany. And when this flood of barbarism swept over Greece and Western Rome, the vices of the open life of even the highest classes were such as fairly to bring the blush to the iron cheeks of the Germans. A writer of the times declares: “We are worse than the barbarians and heathen. If the Saxon is wild, the Frank faithless, the Goth inhuman, the Alanian drunken, the Hun licentious, they are, by reason of their ignorance, far less punishable than we, who, knowing the commandments of God, commit all these crimes.
“You, Romans, Christians, and Catholics, are defrauding your brethren, are grinding the face of the poor, are frittering away your lives for the impure and heathenish spectacles of the amphitheater, and wallowing in licentiousness and inebriety. The barbarians, meanwhile, heathen or heretics though they may be, however fierce toward us, are just and fair in their dealings with one another. The men of the same clan, and belonging to the same kin, love one another with true affection. The impurities of the theater are unknown amongst them. Many of their tribes are free from the taint of drunkenness: and among all except the Alanians and the Huns, chastity is the rule.”
This being the ultimate result of Greek education both to Greece that originated it, and to Rome, both pagan and “Christian,” that adopted it; and this result coming solely as the consequence of the essential immorality of that education; has demonstrated to the world forever the essential vanity and impotence of everything which claims to be education, in which character is not the one sole aim.
Annihilation being the result of Greek education to both Greek and Roman, what else than this can possibly be the result in a society or a nation which in education adopts the method which is Greek, and in its highest and most honorable course of education the literature, which is Greek and Roman?
THE Greek theory of education adopted by the apostate Church led to the union of Church and State, and the total ruin of the State. The principle of Christianity is the total separation of religion and the State. Christianity recognizes the right of the State to exist apart from the Church; and requires that the Church must exist apart from the State.
The Church and the State occupy two distinctly different realms. The realm of the Church is the realm of morals; the realm of the State is the realm of civics. The realm of the Church is the inner life of man, and the world to come; the realm of the State is the outward life of man, and the world that is.
The State rightly constituted, and abiding within its own realm, never can interfere with the affairs of the Church; and as a matter of fact, no State ever has interfered with the affairs of the Church, except when it went outside of its proper realm, and assumed to itself the garb of religion. The Church, abiding in its own realm, can never interfere in any way with the interests of the State; and, as a matter of fact, the Church has never done so, except where she left her own realm, ascended the throne of civil power, and presumed to wield the sword of the State.
The State, within its own realm, and for itself, has a right to establish a system of education, which in the nature of things must be only of this world. The Church, in her own realm, must maintain Christian education.
The State, in establishing and conducting such system of education as may seem to it best, cannot ask that the Church shall abandon Christianity. The Church, in her own realm, in maintaining Christian education, cannot ask that the State shall abandon such system of education as it may have adopted; and must not antagonize the State in its chosen system of education, any more than in any other affair or act of the State within its own realm.
The Government of the United States is the only one ever in the world that was founded upon the principle announced by Jesus Christ concerning civil government — the total separation of religion and the State. “No one thought of vindicating religion for the conscience of the individual, till a voice in Judea, breaking day for the greatest epoch in the life of humanity, by establishing a pure, spiritual, and universal religion for all mankind, enjoined to render to Caesar only that which is Caesar’s. The rule was upheld during the infancy of the gospel for all men. No sooner was this religion adopted by the chief of the Roman Empire, than it was shorn of its character of universality, and enthralled by an unholy connection with the unholy State. And so it continued till the new nation — the least defiled with the barren scoffings of the eighteenth century, the most general believer in Christianity of any people of that age, the chief heir of the Reformation in its purest forms — when it came to establish a government for the United States, REFUSED TO TREAT FAITH AS A MATTER TO BE REGULATED BY A CORPORATE BODY, OR HAVING A HEADSHIP IN A MONARCH OR A STATE” (George Bancroft).
The men who made the United States, distinctly declared that in the matter of this fundamental principle of the separation of religion and the State, they were acting “upon the principles on which the gospel was first propagated, and the Reformation from Popery carried on.” They declared: “We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, ‘that religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be dictated only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.’ The religion, then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man, and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an inalienable right; it is inalienable, because the opinion of men depending only on the evidence contemplated in their own minds, can not follow the dictates of other men. It is inalienable, also, because what is here a right towards men is a duty towards the Creator.
“It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to Him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time, and in degree of obligation, to the claims of civil society. Before any man can be considered a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the universe; and if a member of a civil society who enters into any subordinate association must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the general authority, much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular civil society do it with a saving of his allegiance to the universal Sovereign. We maintain, therefore, that in matters of religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of civil society; and that religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.”
In the course of its existence, the United States has developed and established a system of education. The principle upon which this system of education is founded is acknowledged to be, in this respect, the principle upon which the nation was founded — the separation of religion and the State; therefore religion must not be taught in the State schools. This principle, though infringed in instances, has been generally adhered to on the part of the State. But THE CHURCH has not adhered to this principle; indeed, she has hardly recognized it at all. She has generally acquiesced in the State’s adhering to the principle, and refusing to incorporate religion, or the religious method, in its system of education; but she has not at all adhered to the principle that the Church must not adopt the secular method in education. But this story is so well told by the United States Government itself that we need go no further in defining it.
In the Annual Report of the United States Commissioner of Education for the school year 1896-7, the United States Government has made perfectly clear the distinction between the secular method and the religious method in education; a distinction strictly in accordance with the principles of Christianity, and with the fundamental principles upon which the Government of the United States was founded.
First, as to the secular school:
“The secular school gives positive instruction. It teaches mathematics, natural science, history, and language. Knowledge of the facts can be precise, and accurate, and a similar knowledge of the principles can be arrived at. The self-activity of the pupil is before all things demanded by the teacher of the secular school. The pupil must not take things on authority; but, by his own activity, must test and verify what he has been told. He must trace out the mathematical demonstrations, and see their necessity. He must learn the method of investigating facts in the special provinces of science and history. The spirit of the secular school, therefore, comes to be an enlightening one, although not of the highest order. But its enlightenment tends to make trust in authority more and more difficult for the young mind.”
Next, as to religious education:
“Religious education, it is obvious, in giving the highest results of thought and life to the young, must cling to the form of authority, and not attempt to borrow the methods of mathematics, science, and history from the secular school. Such borrowing will result only in giving the young people an overweening confidence in the finality of their own immature judgments. They will become conceited and shallow-minded. It is well that the child should trust his own intellect in dealing with the multiplication table and the rule of three. It is well that he should learn the rules and all the exceptions in Latin syntax, and verify them in the classic authors; but he must not be permitted to summon before him the dogmas of religion, and form pert conclusions regarding their rationality.”
All this is an excellent reason as to why and how religion cannot be taught in the public schools; why religious education cannot be adopted by the State. And it gives just as excellent reason why the Church, in her education — “religious education” — cannot even borrow, much less adopt, the methods of the secular school.
(a) “The self-activity of the pupil is before all things demanded by the teacher of the secular school.” But in Christianity, instead of self-activity of the child or of the man, it is self-surrender and self-emptying that is before all things demanded. “If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself.”
(b) In the secular school, “the pupil must not take things on authority.” But in Christianity, in religious education, both the pupil and the teacher “must cling to the form of authority.” This, because God is the Author of the religious sense in man, and of Christianity the only true complement of the religious sense; and the Word of God is the authority of Christianity. And God is supreme in everything. When He has spoken, that ends the matter. That is authority, the very ultimate of authority, not only because it is the Word of God, but because it is essential truth. And essential truth is the highest possible authority, and must be accepted as the authority which it is. Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, “spake as One having authority, and not as the scribes.” His word was as from One having authority, not because he had any position of authority, but because of the essential truth which was expressed in the Word which He spake. All authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him, because He had all the truth in heaven and earth.
(c) “The spirit of the secular school,” though “an enlightening one,” yet is not “of the highest order”; while on the other hand, “religious education, it is obvious,” gives “the highest results of thought and life.”
(d) The enlightenment of the secular school “tends to make trust in authority more and more difficult for the young mind.” Since, therefore, the enlightenment of the secular school tends to make trust in authority more and more difficult for the young mind, and since religious education must cling to the form of authority, it clearly follows that to adopt the spirit of the secular school, or to borrow the methods of the secular school, in religious education, is nothing less than to undermine the very citadel of religious education.
(e) It is therefore in perfect wisdom that the United States Government has given the counsel that in religious education there must be no “attempt to borrow the methods of mathematics, science, and history from the secular school.” And this, for the further excellent reason that “such borrowing will result only in giving the young people an overweening confidence in the finality of their own immature judgments. They will become conceited and shallow-minded.”
Every Christian desires that his children shall have a religious education. And surely no Christian who has any wish for the welfare of his children would consciously incorporate into their education that which would result in giving them an overweening confidence in the finality of their own immature judgments, and which will cause them to become conceited and shallow-minded. Surely, therefore, it has been in complete unconsciousness of the principles involved, and of the disastrous results incurred, that the Church leaders and teachers have, in education, taken precisely the course which the United States Government declares must not be taken; that is, the borrowing of the secular method in religious education. For that same report continues:
“With the spectacle of the systematic organization of the secular schools and the improved methods of teaching before them, the leaders in the Church have endeavored to perfect the methods of religious instruction of youth. They have met the following dangers which lay in their path:
“First, the danger of adopting methods of instruction in religion which were fit and proper only for secular instruction; secondly, the selection of religious matter for the course of study which did not lead in the most direct manner toward vital religion, although it would readily take on a pedagogic form.
“Against this danger of sapping, or undermining, all authority in religion, BY THE INTRODUCTION OF THE METHODS OF THE SECULAR SCHOOL, which lay all stress on the self-activity of the child, the Sunday-school has not been sufficiently protected in the more recent years of its history. Large numbers of religious teachers, most intelligent and zealous in their piety, seek a more and more perfect adoption of the secular school methods.
“On the other hand, the topics of religious instruction have been determined largely by the necessities of the secular school method. That method is not adapted to teach mystic truth. It seeks everywhere definite and especially mathematical results. But these results, although they are found everywhere in science and mathematics, are the farthest possible from being like the subject matter of religion. Hence, it has happened that in improving the methods of the Sunday-school, greater and greater attention has been paid to the history and geography of the Old Testament and less and less to the doctrinal matters of the New Testament.”
(a) “The introduction of the methods of the secular school” in religious education incurs the danger “of sapping or undermining all authority in religion.” And against this danger, even “the Sunday-school has not been sufficiently protected in the more recent years of its history.” What, then, of the religious education of the children of Christians in the United States outside of the Sunday-school?
(b) “More and more perfect adoption of the secular school methods” has been sought even in the religious education in the Sunday-school. What, then, of the religious education of the children of Christians apart from the Sunday-school?
(c) “The topics of religious instruction, even in the Sunday-school, have been “determined largely by the necessities of the secular school method,” which method “is not adapted to teach mystic truth”; and the results of which “are the farthest possible from being like the subject matter of religion.” What, then, of the topics and methods in the religious instruction of the children of Christians apart from the Sunday-school?
When the professed Protestant Church has so far forsaken her own true Christian ground in education, and has so far adopted the topics and methods of secular education, has she not gone a long way in the course of the original apostasy in adopting the topics and method of secular education in that day? And in so doing, has not the Protestant Church in this day gone just that far on the way to the positive union of the Church and the State which resulted in the like course in ancient time? And with all this, how can the State here escape the certain ruin that must come from this apostasy and union of Church and State, as certainly as it came from that apostasy and union of Church and State in ancient time of which this is so exact a parallel and likeness?
FROM the evidence presented by the United States Government, it is certainly plain that, for the welfare of both the Church and the State, in this nation, there is demanded on the part of the professed Christian Church an education which shall be Christian. The document published by the United States Government, from which we have quoted, is nothing less than an appeal, a powerful appeal, that the Church leaders and teachers shall plant themselves upon the ground of a religious education which shall indeed be religious, instead of being a “more and more perfect adoption of the secular.”
And when history has demonstrated that when the Church adopts the secular method in education it ends only in the ruin of the State, and the rise of the Church over that ruin into an ecclesiastical world-power, a theocratical world kingdom, of the most desperately oppressive character of all powers that ever were on earth; then is it not for the highest possible welfare of the State, and of human society as a whole, that the Church shall be called back from this secular ground, to her own fair realm of the Christian religion in its purity and its sincerity, and to the education which is wholly becoming to her as the true and sincere Christian Church?
This education, to be Christian, must find its spring in the Word of God alone. That Word must be the basis, the inspiration, and the guide in every line of study. And there must be such a true faith and such perfect confidence in that Word as the Word of God, in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and such a profound study of that Word, illuminated by the Divine Spirit; that it shall be clearly seen that truly “There is no subtlety in grammar, neither in logic, nor in any other science that can be named, but that it is found in more excellent degree in the Scriptures.” This will make her that she shall be indeed the light of the world.
For anybody to profess to believe the Bible for what it is — the Word of God — and at the same time not allow that the Bible must be the leading book in all education, are two things that will not hold together at all.
The Bible claims for itself that it is the Word of God. It comes to men as the Word of God. If it is not accepted and held as the Word of God, it is no more than any other peculiarly national book. To believe the Bible, is to accept it as the Word of God; for that is the only claim that the Bible makes for itself. Not to accept the Bible as the Word of God, is not to believe the Bible at all.
But how shall men know that it is the Word of God? This is the question that thousands of people ask.
They ask, “What proof is there, where is the evidence, that it is the Word of God?”
There is evidence — evidence that every man can have — evidence that is convincing and satisfactory. Where is it, then? Let us see.
Being the Word of God, where alone could evidence be found that it is such? Where should we expect to find such evidence?
Is there any one of greater knowledge than God, or of greater authority than He, of whom we may inquire? — Certainly not. For whoever God may be, there can be no higher authority, there can be none of greater knowledge.
Suppose, then, we were to ask God whether this is His Word. And suppose that, apart from the Bible, He should tell us, in so many words, “The Bible is My word,” we should even then have only His word for it.
But we have that already, over and over; so that even then we should have no more evidence than we now have in abundance; and the evidence would be in nowise different; for it would be the evidence of His word, and that we already have.
Therefore the truth is that the Word of God bears in itself the evidence that it is the Word of God. And it is impossible that it could be otherwise.
If God had never yet spoken a word to the human family, and should this day send a message to all people at once, and in their own native tongues, that word, being the word of God, would have to bear in itself the evidence of its being the word of God; for the people could not possibly inquire of any other, because there is no person whose knowledge or authority is superior to this. And that word, bearing in itself the evidence of its being the word of God, all the people could obtain this evidence by accepting it as the word of God. Each one who did this would know it to be the word of God; for he would have the evidence in the word, and by accepting it also in himself.
This is precisely the position that the Bible occupies toward the people of this world. It comes as the Word of God. As such, it must bear the evidence in itself; for there can be no higher, no better, evidence. Whoever receives it as the Word of God receives in it and in himself the evidence that it is the Word of God. And so it is written, “When ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (I Thessalonians 2:13).
“Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you” (I John 2:8).
And again: “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will [is willing to] do His will, He shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself”( John 7:16, 17).
Thus he who accepts the Word as the Word of God finds the evidence that it is the Word of God. He who will not accept the Word can not have the evidence. In rejecting the Word, he rejects the evidence; because the evidence is in the Word.
To make this yet plainer, if possible, especially to those who do not know that the Bible is the Word of God, we may, for the sake of the case, suppose that the Bible were not the Word of God, and that the God of the Bible were not the true God. Suppose, then, that we should find the true God, and ask Him whether the Bible is the Word of God; and suppose He should say, “It is not the Word of God.” We should then have only His word; and the only way that we could know whether or not this answer was true would be by believing it, by accepting it as the word of God.
So, then, the only possible way in which any person could surely know that the Bible is not the Word of God would be by the Word of God. And even though he had the Word of God to this effect, the only way that be could be sure of it — the only evidence he could have — would be by believing that Word.
But there is no word of God that the Scriptures are not the Word of God; while there is the Word of God that the Scriptures are the Word of God. That Word of God bears in itself the evidence that it is the Word of God; and every soul who will receive it as it is, will have the evidence. The evidence will be plain to him who believes the Word.
The Bible, then, being the Word of God, is supreme knowledge and supreme authority upon every subject that is true. There cannot be any truer knowledge than that of God; there cannot be any higher authority than that of the Word of God. As certainly, therefore, as the Bible is an educational book at all, so certainly is it the supreme educational Book.
And the Bible is educational only. The Author of it presents Himself as the Teacher of men: “I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit.” “And they shall be all taught of God.”
He by whom that Word came, and who is indeed the Word of God, calls all men to Him to learn: “Come unto Me, all ye . . . Learn of Me.” In calling all men to Him to learn of Him, in that very thing He presents Himself as the Teacher of all. He is the great Teacher “sent from God.”
And these two Supreme Teachers have given the Holy Spirit, and Themselves in Him, to be the Teacher of men. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things” — not all things good, bad, and indifferent; not all things speculative, conjectural, and false; but all things that are true; not false science, but true science; not false philosophy, but true philosophy. For He is the Spirit only of truth. He is a guide only into truth: and “He will guide you into all truth.” And He teaches only the Word of God: “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” “He shall not speak of [from] Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.”
The Holy Spirit being the Representative of the Godhead to men, being the Spirit of Truth, teaches only in and through and by means of the Word of God, as that Word is the truth. The Godhead, therefore, in the Holy Spirit, is the Supreme Instructor; and the Word of God is the basis of all true instruction. To the Bible, therefore, being the Word of God and being instruction from the Lord, belongs, by divine right, the place of first consideration in all Christian, in all true, education.
What kind of treatment, then, is it of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit — what kind of treatment is it of the Godhead, by Christians, when they put men before the Godhead, and the books of men, the books of even pagan and infidel men, before the Book of God, in education? Is this fair? Is it reverent? Is it of faith? Is it Christian?
To the Bible by divine right belongs the first consideration and the supreme place in all Christian education. To the Bible also by the very philosophy of education itself belongs the first consideration and the supreme place in Christian education.
The Bible should be the first thing in every line of study, for the reason that is expressed in a saying familiar to all: First impressions are most lasting. For this reason the Bible should be the source of the first instruction that the child receives in the world; and, as everybody is a child in the beginning of every line of study, the Bible should be the first of all things in all studies.
It is the truth that when a person lives, and a few do live, to such an age that the life simply fades out because of age, the last thing that such a person thinks of is the first thing that he ever learned. This may be said again, for it is a principle of education: The first thing that is ever fixed upon a person’s mind is the last thing that that mind dwells upon, if the life of that person is completed and simply fades out in old age.
A notable instance of this is William Ewart Gladstone, the great English statesman, who died in 1898. He died a very old man. As his life was fading out indeed, it was noticed that he was saying over and over again the Lord’s Prayer in French. That excited some query, as he was an Englishman, why should he be saying the Lord’s Prayer in French? Inquiries were made, and it was learned that when he was a little child, he was in the charge of a French nurse, and that that French nurse was a Christian, and had taught him the Lord’s Prayer in her native language. And as that happened to be the first thing that was fixed upon his mind, it was the last thing that was dwelt upon by his mind as it faded out in death.
Now, if that nurse had not been a Christian, and had taught that child, “Hi, diddle, diddle, the cat’s in the fiddle,” it would have worked precisely the same way, and that would have been the last thing that he would have spoken on his death-bed. If she had taught him Esop’s fables or fairy tales instead of the Lord’s Prayer, these would have been the last things that he would have murmured as his mind faded away.
Another, who was personally known to the writer, died at a little past ninety-six years of age. The Lord’s Prayer was also one of the last things that that person repeated. Another thing she did in the last days of her life was to count — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and so on up to ten, but not beyond — just as a little child learns to count. So that mind, in its last hours, was dwelling on the things of her first hours of conscious memory — the things that were first fixed in her mind.
How beautiful it is that the last thought of a mind fading out in death is the thought of God in His Word! How aptly in the resurrection will the first thought take up the connection! This is enough to illustrate the principle that is the basis of the philosophy of using the Bible as the first thing in all Christian education.
This, all will admit, is all well enough in the case of the child, who is learning the first things. Yet it is no more necessary there than it is everywhere else; for everyone is a child, an infant, in the things that he is first learning. If you or I were to begin to study any new language, we should be altogether babes in that language. We know nothing at all there; there is not a thought in the language that is ours; not a word in the language that can possibly convey a thought.
To illustrate: suppose you would learn the German language, and that the first words you ever learn are these: “Im anfang war das Wort.” Then the first thought which ever enters your mind in the German language is, “In the beginning was the Word.” Then, having learned this, wherever after that, as long as you live, you meet the word anfang, that word will unfailingly recall the expression, “Im anfang war das Wort,” and the thought, “In the beginning was the Word.”
Or suppose it be Greek, and the first words that you ever learn in it are the same: “En arche en ho Logos.” The word arche means “the beginning,” and the word logos means “the word.” “In the beginning was the Word.” Then, having learned this, wherever you meet either the word arche or Logos, instantly occurs the thought first lodged in your mind with the passage, “In the beginning was the Word.”
But suppose you unfortunately fall into the hands of a teacher with whom the Bible is not supreme, and therefore is not the first and most important book in every line of study. Suppose that the first words in the language that he gives to you are from some fairy story, some fable, some novel, some play, or from any other source than the Bible. When you learn those words, you receive the thought expressed by the words. And having learned that, then afterward, when you meet those same words in the Bible, instantly and irresistibly your mind will revert to that first thought in those words, and the clear rays of light and truth in the words of the Bible will be clouded and confused by being mixed up with that fairy scene, or whatever it was that was first associated in your mind with those words. Then your very study of the Bible will be hindered, and you will be crippled, by such a bad beginning in the new language.
On the other hand, when you begin right, with the words of the Bible and the thoughts of God first, then if, for any purpose, you should find it necessary to read these other books, you will find the precious light and wisdom and strength of the thoughts of God constantly recurring and abiding with you, guiding you in the way of truth, and guarding you against that which is false.
In illustration, an actual occurrence can be cited: A few years ago the author of this book was passing through a high school, in which persons of another language were taking first lessons in English. The students had just gone from the room, and lying on the desks were their books of study in English; some of them open at the latest lesson. And the subject of that lesson was “The Mischievous Monkey.” Those students were taking their first lessons in a new language. The first and only thoughts that they were getting in that language were thoughts about a mischievous monkey. When they had studied that piece clear through so that they could intelligently read it in English, a large proportion of what they knew, and of the thoughts that they were able to think, in English were solely concerning a mischievous monkey.
In the account of that mischievous monkey words were used that are frequently met in the Bible; because they were common English words. Suppose then that those students should soon afterward turn to the Bible in English, and there meet some of these same words; every time they should meet one of those words, there would be that mischievous monkey obtruding himself upon, and rollicking among, the thoughts of the Word of God. That is as certain as that those students received the thoughts about that mischievous monkey as their first thoughts in English. And that would also be a positive hindrance to their ever getting from the Word of God in English the clear, pure thoughts of that Word.
What a lasting injury, then, it is to students, and especially the young; what an imposition upon them; when they are kept for years in the wild, foolish, false, and wicked imaginings of pagan poets, philosophers, or dramatists, or even the writings of historians, before they are qualified to read New Testament Greek or Bible Latin! Is a mind whose whole warp and woof in Greek is pagan, the better qualified to understand and appreciate Christian Greek? Is a mind that has roamed from one to three years all over Gaul, amid the barbarities of Caesar and the Gauls, or that has dwelt all its Greek or Latin life in the pagan miasma of Homer or Virgil — is such a mind the better prepared to read in Latin, to Christian profit, the gospel of John or the epistles of Paul? Are paganism and barbarism an essential basis for Christianity? Are pagan thoughts and heathen conceptions an essential antecedent to Christian thoughts and divine conceptions?
If not, why do teachers who consider themselves, and expect others to consider them, Christians, cause their students of Greek, or Latin, or any other language, to build up their minds in that language wholly of pagan material, and that from one to three years, before they are expected, or given any chance, to form their minds of the Lord’s thoughts — the perfectly good, the perfectly pure, the perfectly true?
For all practical purposes, the mind is composed of thoughts. The object of study is to build up the mind, to obtain thoughts — knowledge. What, then, can be the object of professed Christian teachers in having students study pagan Greek and pagan Latin first of all? Whatever their object, the certain result is to build up the minds of the students in paganism and of paganism. What the mind is, the man is. And when the mind is pagan, the man is pagan; and if the mind is mostly, or even partly, pagan, then the man is mostly or partly pagan.
But is it the God-given task, or responsibility, of Christian teachers to cause students to become even in any degree whatever, pagan? The only possible answer is, No. Then what Christian teacher can ever put any pagan book into the hands of any student as a text-book, or as a book for study at all?
This is not to say that no other book but the Bible can ever be read or studied in a foreign language; but it is to say that no other book should ever be read or studied in any foreign language until that language has been learned from the Bible, and until the Bible can readily be read at sight in that language. When this has been, and can be, done by a person, then that person can read with perfect safety, and to profit, any other book in that language which he may find it necessary to consult.
Which is the better, which affords the better prospect to the mind and soul — to begin a study in such a way that wherever the person shall go afterward in that field, the thought of God shall accompany him; or to begin in such a way that paganism, infidelity, or worldliness, shall be first in all the field, even to the overshadowing of the Word of God when it is studied? — To ask that question is certainly to answer it in all Christian minds.
It is therefore perfectly plain that, both by divine right and by the simple philosophy of education, to the Bible belongs the first consideration and the supreme place in all Christian education. What Christian teacher, then, can be loyal to the Godhead in putting any book but the Bible first of all into the thoughts of any student on any subject?
THE Bible is treated fairly, and is given its true place in education, only when it is confidently held to be distinctly an educational book as such; only when it is held to have clearly an educational purpose, and to be positively committed to the principle of a complete education as such.
That the Bible is all this is abundantly proved by the contents of the Book itself. In order to cause this to be seen most fully, and yet to do it in the briefest space, we shall approach the subject through the book that is in more than one point a pivotal book in the Bible — the book of Daniel.
The book of Daniel was written especially for the last days; for when Daniel came to explain to King Nebuchadnezzar the great things of the king’s dream, he said that God “maketh known to the King Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28). In explaining to Daniel the things revealed, the angel said that he was giving understanding of what should befall God’s people “in the latter days” (Daniel 10:14). And when the writing of the book was finished, Daniel was commanded to “shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4); and was then told, “Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (verse 9).
The book of Daniel, then, being specifically designed for the last days, contains principles, as well as prophecies, which are of special importance, and have a special bearing, in the last days; and not the least of these are the principles of education. These principles are given to save the people of the world in the last days from calamities and destruction of which those that came upon Babylon are but a feeble representation. To ignore these principles, given especially for this time, is but to court a destruction as much more dreadful than that other as world-wide destruction and eternal ruin are greater than local destruction and temporal ruin.
When Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, captured Jerusalem the first time, “the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel and of the king’s seed and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:3, 4).
“No blemish” and “well favored.” This would require that they should be physically sound, well built, and symmetrical.
The words translated “wisdom,” “knowledge,” and “science,” in verse 4 — Hebrew daath, madda, and chokmah — are closely related, though the second is an extension of the first, and the third an extension of the second.
The word translated “wisdom” signifies “knowledge, understanding, and intelligence.” It implies the faculty to discern what is valuable knowledge, and the ability and capacity to acquire such knowledge.
The word translated “knowledge” relates to “the mind or thought,” and implies knowledge acquired by thinking and application.
The word translated “science” signifies “skill, dexterity, sagacity, shrewdness, ability to judge”; and is well translated in our word “science,” which signifies “skilful in knowledge.” It implies a selected and systematized knowledge.
Therefore the requirement of King Nebuchadnezzar in the selecting of these youth was that they should be physically sound and symmetrically built; and that, mentally, they should be:
1. Skilful in discerning what is valuable knowledge, and skilful in the ability to acquire such knowledge;
2. Cunning in the acquisition of knowledge by thinking and application; and
3. Understanding how to correlate, classify, and systematize the knowledge which they had the faculty to discern was valuable knowledge, and which they were cunning in gathering.
And they must have “ability” in all these things. What they knew was not to be mere head-knowledge; but they must have the faculty of observation and adaptation so trained that what they had learned could be practically applied in their experience in everyday affairs. They were to have such ability, such everyday common sense, as would enable them to use their knowledge to practical advantage in the common things of daily life, so that they would be practical men wherever they were; so that they could adapt themselves to any circumstances or situation, and be the master and not the slave of either circumstances or situation.
From the specifications distinctly made in the scripture, and from the close and thorough examination that must be passed, it is certain that all that we have outlined was comprehended in the requirements of the king respecting the youth who were to be chosen. And this is no small tribute to the educational ideas of King Nebuchadnezzar. Indeed, his views of education, as shown in this verse of the Bible, were, for all practical purposes, far in advance of the educational system that prevails today, even in the leading colleges and universities of the United States.
Yet Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were able successfully to pass such an examination. Where, then, did they get such an education, being, as they were, but mere youth? The answer to this question is worth having. Besides, we need it just now; for all this was written especially for the last days.
Where, then, did Daniel and his three companions obtain the education which enabled them successfully to pass the examination required by King Nebuchadnezzar? Where did they obtain an education which made them “skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science”; and which gave them “ability” in all these things? — Without hesitation it can be answered, in a “school of the prophets,” the divinely-established schools in Israel. There was at that time a “college,” or “school of the prophets,” in Jerusalem. For in the eighteenth year of Josiah, king of Judah, which was only fifteen years before the captivity of Daniel, there is the clear record of such a school in Jerusalem.
In the eighteenth year of Josiah, while at his command the temple was being cleansed and repaired from the abominations of Manasseh and Amen, a copy of the Pentateneh, or “book of the law of the Lord of Moses,” was found by Hilkiah the priest. Hilkiah “delivered the book to Shaphan” the scribe; and “Shaphan carried the book to the king,” and “read it before the king.” “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes,” and commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Shaphan the scribe, and others, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found.”
“And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess. . . . Now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college [margin, “in the school”]; and they spoke to her to that effect.”
Here was, in Jerusalem, a college, or school, in which “dwelt” the prophetess. This at once shows this school to have been a school of the prophets; because that which gave to those schools the name schools of the Prophets was the fact that a prophet dwelt with the school, and was, under God, the head of the school.
This fact is revealed in the two other instances in which they are mentioned: in I Samuel 19:20 “the company of the prophets” was seen, and “Samuel standing as appointed over them.” In II Kings 6:1-6 we meet again “the sons of the prophets,” and Elisha the prophet is dwelling with them; for they said to Elisha, “The place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.”
Thus we find three schools of the prophets in three widely-separated ages — the age of Samuel, the age of Elisha, and the age of Josiah — and in each instance a prophet is dwelling in the school. These three passages were written to give us information as to the schools of the prophets. They show why these schools were called schools of the prophets. They show also that the college, or school, in Jerusalem, in which dwelt Huldah the prophetess, was a school of the prophets as certainly as was the school where dwelt Elisha the prophet or Samuel the prophet.
It was, then, in a school of the prophets, in the Lord’s school, and in the system of education of the Lord’s designing, where Daniel and his three companions obtained the education of which we read in Daniel 1:4 — the education which made them “skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,” and which gave to them such “ability” in all these that they were able to pass successfully the examination required for entrance into the royal university of Babylon.
WHAT was taught in the schools of the prophets? To know this is important, not only for its own sake, but because, when we know this, we know what should be taught in the Lord’s schools always. These things are in the Bible. They were written for our learning. And being in the book of Daniel, they are written especially for our instruction and admonition “upon whom the ends of the world are come.” In this chapter we shall have space only to discover and enumerate these studies. What each subject involved will be studied afterward.
Daniel and his three companions were “skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science.” This education was acquired in the college, or school of the prophets in Jerusalem. This, therefore, certifies that wisdom, knowledge, and science were taught in those schools.
Another thing that was taught there was music, instrumental as well as vocal. This we know from the fact that the first time that we meet any of the students of such a school, they have “a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them”; and they were playing with such spirit, and with such power in the Spirit, that the man who then personally met them was drawn to God and converted. Thus all the circumstances show that this was trained, harmonious music, played by the students of this school. And this is plain evidence that music was taught in the schools of the prophets.
Another thing that was taught there was work, or “manual training” as it would be called today. This we know from the record of these schools in the time of Elisha: “And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye. And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood” (II Kings 6:1-4).
This shows that in those schools, work was taught and the love of it; because when the school building became too small for the attendance, the students themselves suggested that they themselves should build the new and larger house that was needed. There was no thought of hiring other people to do the work, nor of letting it by contract. No; they themselves said, “Let us go . . . and let us make us a place.”
They were also so in love with work that they would borrow tools with which to work; for when one of the axes flew off the handle and into the river, as one of the students was chopping, he exclaimed to Elisha, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”
More than this, even the principal of the school — Elisha — went with them to the work, and joined with them in the work; for he was among those who were chopping on the bank of the river when the ax flew into the water.
All this shows, as plainly as needs to be shown, that work and the love of it, real industry, was taught in the schools of the prophets — the Lord’s schools of ancient time.
Another thing that was taught there was temperance — healthful living. This is shown by the fact that Daniel and his companions refused the king’s dainties and royal food, and the wine which he drank, and asked for a simple fare, a vegetarian diet (Daniel 1:5, 12-16). That they were taught this in the school of the prophets which they attended is plain from the fact that this was a thoroughly grounded principle with them. And that such was the diet in the schools of the prophets is taught by the fact that in that school, in the time of Elisha, even when “there was a dearth in the land,” Elisha, giving directions to prepare food, said, “Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage.” And in following this direction, “one went out into the field to gather herbs” (II Kings 4:38, 39). When herbs were gathered in response to the ordinary direction to prepare food, and this when “there was a dearth in the land,” surely this is strong evidence that a vegetarian diet was the regular diet in the school. This is confirmed by the further fact that “there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first-fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full cars of corn in the husk thereof. And he [Elisha] said, Give unto the people, that they may eat” (verse 42). Here was a man bringing a present of provisions to the principal of the school, and he brought only food from the vegetable kingdom.
All this is evidence that a vegetarian diet was the diet of the students and teachers in the schools of the prophets; that this temperate way of living was a part of the instruction; and that temperance was so inculcated as to become a living principle in the lives of the students.
Another thing taught there was law — statutes, justice, and judgment. This was directly commanded to be taught: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. . . . What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart in all the days of thy life; but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons” (Deuteronomy 4:5-9). “Justice, justice, shalt thou follow” (Deuteronomy 16:20, margin).
Another thing taught there, and this “especially,” was morals; for after urging upon them the obligation to teach carefully and diligently the statutes and judgments of the Lord, he commanded them to teach to their sons and their sons’ sons, “specially,” the ten commandments which they heard, said he, “the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather Me the people together, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. . . . And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even Ten Commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone.”
Another thing taught there was history: “When thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord our God hath commanded you? Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:20-22). This study was not confined to the history of the deliverance from Egypt; it embraced all as it was given in the sacred writings. We know that this history was one of the studies of Daniel; for the form of government, having three presidents, one of whom was chief, which was introduced by Daniel as prime minister in the days of Darius the Mede, was adopted literally from the records of Israel as to the government of David.
Yet another thing taught there was poetry. This was an essential accompaniment of the teaching of music, and the songs of worship of which their music was composed. With all this, of course, the fundamentals of knowledge, reading and writing and numbers, were taught.
We find, then, that the teaching in the schools of the prophets embraced at least the following studies:
4. Manual labor
But the one greatest thing over all, in all, and through all, in the Lord’s schools was the pervading presence of the divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit. In the schools of the prophets the Spirit of God was the one all-pervading influence, the one great prevailing power. The first time we meet one of these schools is in I Samuel 10:5-12, when Saul came “to the hill of God,” and met “a company of prophets coming down” with instruments of music, and prophesying. “And the Spirit of God came upon him,” and “God gave him another heart;” he was turned “into another man,” and “he prophesied among the prophets.”
That this should occur in the case of such a man as Saul was so great a wonder that the people of Israel were astonished at it to such an extent that henceforth it became a proverb in Israel, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Yet this was but the usual degree of the manifestation of the Spirit in the school. For we find after this that Saul, by disobedience to God and jealousy of David, had separated himself from the Spirit, and was constantly seeking to kill David, and David escaped, and fled, and “came to Samuel to Ramah,” and “he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth. And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” This was where there was a school of the prophets. “And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise.”
When Saul saw that his first messengers had yielded, of course he sent the second time such ones as he supposed would not yield. And when he found that they also had yielded, he determined to trust no more messengers — he would go himself. Therefore in his wrathful determination “went he also to Ramah,” and demanded, “Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah. And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied.”
All this shows, and it was written to tell to us, that the Holy Spirit was so fully manifested that stern, hard-hearted, and even exceptionally unspiritual men were melted and subdued by His gracious influence whenever they came in contact with the school. It shows also that the Spirit of God in these schools manifested Himself in prophesyings. Thus it was the Spirit of prophecy that pervaded and controlled the school. “The Spirit of prophecy” is “the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 19:10), in counsel and instruction. Thus Jesus Christ Himself, by the Spirit of prophecy, was the real Head of the schools of the prophets.
And all this is to teach to us now, for our own time, that in the Lord’s schools, the Spirit of prophecy, the testimony of Jesus, must be the great guide and instructor, and that the Spirit of God is to be courted until He shall become the all-pervading influence and the all-controlling power in every school established in the name of the Lord.
These things are written in the Bible for us. They center and are emphasized in the book of Daniel especially for the last days. We are now in the last days. The instruction given, the course of study in the schools of the prophets, is instruction for the Lord’s schools for all time. This is the instruction that belongs today in every school that makes any pretensions to being a Christian school.
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