Higher Education – Man’s Way or God’s Way?

The Apostle Paul tells us, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” I Corinthians 3:19. No Seventh-day Adventist should let foolishness keep him or her from the kingdom. “Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God.” The Great Controversy, 488.

Are we not told to so live “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [or woman], unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”? Ephesians 4:13.

Read what the Lord’s end-time messenger, Ellen G. White, has told us about education: “I am instructed to say that in our educational work, there is to be no compromise in order to meet the world’s standards. God’s commandment-keeping people are not to unite with the world, to carry various lines of work according to the world’s plans and worldly wisdom.

“Our people are being tested as to whether they will obtain their wisdom from the greatest Teacher the world has ever known or seek to the god of Ekron. Let us be determined that we shall not be tied as much as a thread to the educational policies of those who do not discern the voice of God, and who will not hearken to His commandments.” Loma Linda Messages, 447.

“If the recommendation goes forth from our people that our workers are to seek for success by acknowledging as essential the education which the world gives as superior to that which God gives, we are virtually saying that the influence the world gives, is superior to that which God gives. God will be dishonored by such a course.” Ibid, 453.

Here is what the Lord’s end-time messenger has to say about what constitutes higher education: “Through His own chosen messengers God has given us light and instruction as to what constitutes higher education. There is no higher education to be gained than that which was given to the early disciples, and which is given to us through the word. …

“Light has been given me that tremendous pressure will be brought upon every Seventh-day Adventist with whom the world can get into close connection.

“We need to understand these things. Those who seek the education that the world esteems so highly are gradually led further and further from the principles of truth until they become educated worldlings. At what a price they have gained their education! They have parted with the Holy Spirit of God. They have chosen to accept what the world calls knowledge in the place of the truths which God has committed to men through his ministers, apostles and prophets. And there are some who, having secured this worldly education, think they can introduce it into our schools. But let me tell you that you must not take what the world calls higher education and bring it into our schools and sanitariums and churches. I speak to you definitely; this must not be done.” Loma Linda Messages, 405, 406.

In spite of this counsel, many Seventh-day Adventists have sought higher education in the colleges and universities which teach “the wisdom of the world.” Is this not, therefore, foolishness?

The advocates for accreditation of our colleges used this statement from Ellen G. White to justify their position: “Inasmuch as there are legal requirements making it necessary that medical students shall take a certain preparatory course of study our colleges should arrange to carry their students to the point of literary and scientific training that is necessary.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 480.

It was decided in 1928 to select a few of the most spiritually mature teachers and send them to non-Seventh-day Adventist universities. It would then require only a short time to equip our schools with the teaching personnel technically qualified to give the necessary training in our schools in the future.

In the course of time, the above resolution deteriorated until large numbers of Seventh-day Adventist teachers and numerous ministers enrolled in schools of the world for higher degrees. Did any of these worldly-educated Seventh-day Adventists take what the world calls higher education and bring it into our schools, sanitariums, and churches? At the present time, do most Seventh-day Adventist schools have a generation of teachers who received their major training largely from teachers educated in schools of the world?

A.W. Spalding’s Letter

In answer to those questions, and in connection with the foregoing passages from the words of Ellen G. White, it is of value to understand what was happening in the educational system of the denomination. A.W. Spalding, author of the five volume History of Seventh-day Adventists, spent 50 years of his life in educational work, in and out of Seventh-day Adventist schools. He talks about the necessity of following the Lord’s instruction even when it may seem like foolishness to men.

He indicated that we came to our educational Kadesh-Barnea in 1928. The promised land was ahead of us, but the majority of our spies brought back an evil report. We became discouraged at the report of perceived giants and walled cities. We turned away from the commands of the Lord, and rejected His instructions not to seek our education from the universities and schools of the world. (See God’s instruction to His people in Fundamentals of Christian Education, 347, 359, 451, 467, 474.) The true higher education lies in the study of God’s revealed knowledge and wisdom. (See Education, 14.) There were a few Calebs and Joshuas there, but their voices were drowned out by the clamors of the multitude. We voted for accreditation, with all the involved affinity with the world’s education.

The Lord, through Ellen G. White, tells how to escape from the results of our foolishness: “God works through those who hear and obey His voice, those who will, if need be, speak unpalatable truths, those who do not fear to reprove popular sins. The reason He does not oftener choose men of learning and high position to lead out in reform movements is that they trust in their creeds, theories, and feel no need to be taught of God.” The Great Controversy, 455, 456.

The Omega

If we believe the Lord has spoken to our church through His last-day messenger, we must know that we are living in the season of the omega of apostasy. The Lord says this through His servant: “I knew that the omega would follow in a little while; and I trembled for our people. … Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the past fifty years would be accounted error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. … The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 203, 204.

After denouncing the alpha of apostasy which shook the foundations of our church, the Lord made this prediction through the Spirit of Prophecy: “The omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given.” Ibid., 200. “The omega will be of a most startling nature.” Ibid., 197.

Do we have among the diversities of doctrine in our church the soul-destroying omega? In writing to a leading church member (John Harvey Kellogg, M.D.) whom Satan influenced to bring in the alpha of apostasy, and which seems particularly applicable today in regard to the omega, the servant of the Lord delivered the following scathing comments: “You were professedly believing the Testimonies, and yet walking and working contrary to them, following your own impulses, turning from the plain, Thus saith the Lord, to carry out your own plans and devisings.” Battle Creek Letters, 119.

Unity in Diversity

At the 1995 General Conference in Utrecht, a principal speaker called for unity in diversity. Later our general church paper ran an article on the same theme. Can we have unity in diversity if some of this diversity is the soul-destroying omega against which we have been warned? The Lord says: “The missionaries of the [Seventh-day Adventist] Christian church are to stand in their God-given manhood, with the privilege of freedom of speech and freedom of faith. When they see that a fellow-laborer is not doing as a man in his position ought to do, they are not to harmonize with his plans, or be cowered into silence by a masterful spirit. For them to do this would be a great injury to him [Dr. Kellogg] and to them.

“Our [ministers and] physicians are to stand where no binding influence will hold them speechless when they hear wrong sentiments expressed. At times, with burning earnestness and words of terrible severity, Christ denounced the abominations that He saw in the church and in the world. He would not allow the people to be deceived by false claims to righteousness and sanctity.

“We are to unify, but not on a platform of error.” Battle Creek Letters, 111.

“We have a testing message to give, and I am instructed to say to our people, ‘Unify, unify,’ But we are not to unify with those who are departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. With our hearts sweet and kind and true, we are to go forth to proclaim the message, giving no heed to those who lead away from the truth.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 412.

“Our church members see that there are differences of opinion among the leading men, and they themselves enter into controversy regarding the subjects under dispute. Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrong doing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 175.

“He [Christ] labored that man should be true to himself, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth. They are to ‘follow after things that make for peace’ (Rom. 14:19.); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition.” The Desire of Ages, 356.

Now our last question—would the warnings of the Lord through Ellen G. White regarding the alpha also apply in the season of the omega?

“Will the men in our institutions keep silent, allowing insidious fallacies to be promulgated to the ruin of souls? The sentiments of the enemy are being scattered everywhere. Seeds of discord, of unbelief, of infidelity, are being sown broadcast. …

“The dangers coming upon us are continually increasing. It is high time that we put on the whole armor of God, and work earnestly to keep Satan from gaining any further advantage. Angels of God, that excel in strength, are waiting for us to call them to our aid, that our faith may not be eclipsed by the fierceness of the conflict. Renewed energy is now needed. Vigilant action is called for. Indifference and sloth will result in the loss of personal religion and of heaven. …

“My message to you is: No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth. Unmask the pretentious sophistries which, if received, will lead ministers and physicians and medical missionary workers to ignore the truth. Every one is now to stand on his guard. God calls upon men and women to take their stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel. I have been instructed to warn our people; for many are in danger of receiving theories and sophistries that undermine the foundation pillars of the faith. …

“Be not deceived; many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 195–197.

“I was shown a platform braced by solid timbers,—the truths of the Word of God. Some one high in responsibility was directing this man and that man to loosen the timbers supporting this platform. Then I heard a voice saying, ‘Where are the watchmen that ought to be standing on the walls of Zion? Are they asleep? This foundation was built by the Master Worker, and will stand through storm and tempest. Will they permit this man to present doctrines that deny the past experience of the people of God? The time has come for decided action.’

“The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist of giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded. …

Laodicean Fog?

“Shortly before I sent out the testimonies regarding the efforts of the enemy to undermine the foundations of our faith through the dissemination of seductive theories, I had read an incident about a ship in a fog meeting an iceberg. For several nights I slept but little. I seemed to be bogged down as a cart beneath sheaves. One night a scene was clearly presented before me. A vessel was upon the waters, in a heavy fog. Suddenly the lookout cried, ‘Iceberg just ahead!’ There, towering high above the ship, was a gigantic iceberg. An authoritative voice cried out, ‘Meet it!’ There was not a moment’s hesitation. It was a time for instant action. The engineer put on full steam, and the man at the wheel steered the ship straight into the iceberg. With a crash she struck the ice. There was a fearful shock, and the iceberg broke into many pieces, falling like thunder to the deck. The passengers were violently shaken by the force of the collision, but no lives were lost. The vessel was injured, but not beyond repair. She rebounded from the contact, trembling from stem to stern, like a living creature. Then she moved forward on her way.

“Well I knew the meaning of this representation. I had my orders. I had heard the words, like a voice of our Captain, ‘Meet it!’ ” Ibid., 204–206.

“Meet It”?

“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 380.

“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. …

“Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come. …

“We must pray more, and talk less. Iniquity abounds, and the people must be taught not to be satisfied with a form of godliness without the spirit and power.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 121, 122.

[All emphasis supplied.]

Dr. Donald Hewitt, now deceased, was a practicing physician in Hawaii and was a foremost temperance promoter and authored the book, Everything You Wanted to Know About Alcoholism, But Were Too Drunk to Ask. Dr. Donald Hewitt was a good friend of Marshall Grosboll who helped to promote his book.