True Education

“Welcome to the first rehearsal of Macbeth. This is an exciting day and a terrifying one. Over the next five weeks we’re going to grapple with one of the greatest plays ever written….Why do a play which is so fraught with problems?….Why is Macbeth considered to be an unlucky play?….The answer to both these questions is that Macbeth is the most brilliant and comprehensible play about evil ever written. Evil is portrayed in its private, public, supernatural and cosmic form. It is a vision of Hell, and during the next five weeks we will be using our imagination to bring that vision to life. We shall cast spells, evoke spirits, pray to demons, murder, intrigue, betray, lie, cheat and pillage. If we are brave enough, we will face the evil in ourselves in order to make the evil in our production true….We will be bringing into play the dark side of ourselves.” Longman Group limited 1986, William Shakespeare, Macbeth

These are the opening statements from the textbook used my senior year in academy. Over a three-month period we watched this play four times, acted it out once, and studied it more in-depth than any other work. This was at a Seventh-day Adventist academy! Does this bother you? If not, it should!

The strength of a family, movement, or culture depends heavily on how it is continued. This explains why people have expended large quantities of time and energy on passing down history and training their children. Today this process is called education.

To the world, education is understood to be an intellectual preparation for life. Webster defines education as: “the act of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.” [All emphasis supplied.]

Adventists, on the other hand, have been shown that education is the act of growing—spiritually, mentally, and physically. “True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in the world to come.

“To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized—this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.” Education, 13, 15-16

Education deals in the obtaining of wisdom. As such, man’s education began in Eden. There, Adam felt the thrill of unity and harmony with his Creator. Though for a little time inferior, there lay within him the possibility of attaining to greater heights than that held by angels. He was to be the companion of God, the perfect reflection of His light and glory. “The holy pair were not only children under the fatherly care of God, but students receiving instruction from the all-wise Creator. They were visited by angels, and were granted communion with their Maker, with no obscuring veil between….The mysteries of the visible universe—‘the wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge’ afforded them an exhaustless source of instruction and delight.” Education, 207. The divine method of education is here revealed,—God’s way of dealing with minds which are loyal to Him. This was education, perfect and complete.

Written on the face of creation is the wisdom of the Eternal. “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28. In other words, when a man lives in harmony with God, acting in accordance with the laws of the universe; when his thoughts are those of the Father, then he has truly entered the road that leads directly to wisdom.

Why, then, if wisdom may be had for the asking, do not all find it? Only one reason can be given: men in their search accept falsehood in the place of truth. This blunts their sensibilities until the false seems true and the true false.

When the serpent addressed Eve, her curiosity was aroused; and instead of fleeing, she argued with him. She attempted to determine in her own mind between right and wrong, but God had already told her what was right. This moment of indecision, of doubting, was the devil’s opportunity. He knew that if man’s mind could be gained, his great work would be accomplished. To do this he used a process of reasoning based on doubt—a method the opposite of that used by the Father in His instruction.

At Satan’s suggestion, Eve transferred her faith from the word of God to the tree of knowledge; and she was now easily led to test the truthfulness of all his statements by her senses. The theory had been advanced, and the experimental process now began. Eve looked upon the forbidden fruit, but no physical change was perceptible as the result of the misuse of this sense. This led her to be more certain that the argument used had been correct. All of this to the changing mind of Eve was still more conclusive evidence that the words of Christ and of the angels did not mean exactly what she had at first thought them to mean. The senses of touch, smell, and taste were in turn used, and each supported the conclusion drawn by the devil.

The woman was deceived, and through the deception, her mind was changed. This same change of mind may be brought about either by deception or as the result of false reasoning.

Today there are still two types of education in the world. There is that which comes form God and that which is the wisdom of the world, which God pronounces to be foolishness. The latter exalts the senses above faith and reason above revelation, but it results in spiritual death. That the fall of man was the result of choosing the false system cannot be debated. Redemption, therefore, comes through the adoption of the true system of education which links man with God, the true source of wisdom. The final and ultimate triumph of truth will, therefore, place those who are advocates of Christian education in the kingdom of God. Over these two great educational systems the great controversy between good and evil is now being waged.

When Christianity, in the power of Pentecost, entered the world, the Word of God was its educational book. There was, however, another system of learning which was claimed by the world to be true education and which had to be met by Christianity. On this question of education, as in all other things, Christianity and the world were diametrically opposed to each other.

There were, at this time, three great centers of education—Corinth, Ephesus, and Athens. Of the three, Athens was pre-eminent and was known as the mother of the then world’s education. The whole basis and theory of Greek education was established on the premise that doubt is the way to knowledge.

For a time, paganism, steadily retreated before a victorious Christianity; but as time passed, Christianity’s conquest faltered and slowed. Slowly at first, and then with accelerating speed, there was within the Christian church an exalting of the worldly wisdom. This so called wisdom was but Greek ignorance and resulted in the “falling away” from the gospel truth. For the next half-score of centuries, schools, from the grammar schools to the universities, all looked to Aristotle for the basis of knowledge. The Dark Ages had begun.

With the dawning of light, ushered in by the Reformation, true education received a fresh start. Luther and Melancthon developed a strong Bible based system of learning. “It was not the public worship alone the Reformation was ordained to change. The school was early placed beside the Church; and these two great institutions, so powerful to regenerate the nations, were equally reanimated by it. It was by a close alliance with learning that the Reformation entered into the world; in the hour of its triumph, it did not forget its ally.” D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, book 10, chap. 9, 375

So successful was this education that, “Not more than a thirtieth part of the population remained Catholic…They withheld their children, too, from the Catholic schools.” Sutherland, Studies in Christian Education, 11. In reaction to this great movement, the Jesuits arose with the goal of regaining that which had been lost to the Reformation.

In the place of training the youth to be thinkers and not mere reflectors of other men’s thoughts, (see Education, 17, 18), the Jesuits emphasized the cultivation of the memory as a means of keeping down free activity of thought and clearness of judgment. (See Studies in Christian Education, 16.)

In the place of self-governing, which leads to independent and original works, “their method of discipline was a system of mutual distrust, espionage and informing.” Ibid. The papal system makes no effort to train students in self-governing, as such a system is fatal to the papal church organization.

In the place of the Bible as the basis of education, the papal education introduced secular literature for its foundation and guide. (See Ibid., 143)

Is the duty of Christians to repress the spirit of envy, or emulation (see Testimonies, vol. 5, 242), but the Jesuits made much of rivalry and competition. They believed that the ability to excite emulation was a most powerful aid in teaching. Under their system, nothing was more honorable than to outstrip a fellow student, and nothing more dishonorable than to be outstripped. (See Studies in Christian Education, 16.)

“’The Jesuits did not aim at developing all the faculties of their pupils but merely the receptive and reproductive faculties.’ When a student ‘could make a brilliant display from the resources of a well-stored memory, he had reached the highest points to which the Jesuits sought to lead him.’ Originality and independence of mind, love of truth for its own sake, the power of reflecting and forming judgments were not merely neglected, they were suppressed in the Jesuit system.” (See Ibid.)

True education, in contrast, will show students how to follow the established principles of God. The character of Christ is the one perfect pattern which we are to copy. “Godliness—Godlikeness—is the goal to be reached.” Education, 18

The strength of the papal system lied in repeating meaningless forms, and in a dead study of words in the place of a living knowledge of things. Mental cramming and formal memorizing are the exalted methods of teaching. (See Studies in Christian Education, 142.)

Manual training is not an essential part of papal education. In its place they have substituted athletics, sports, games, and gymnasiums. True education, however, will give students useful exercise that will uplift the mind, educate, and be of practical value. (See Ibid., 145.)

We are to be reformed and self-supporting, following the Spirit of Prophecy’s admonition to live in the country and be able to support ourselves. By contrast, the papal system is one of control. The more dependent you are upon others, the more perfectly it suits their plans.

“The Jesuit system of education was remarkably successful, and for a century nearly all the foremost men of the Christendom came from Jesuit schools.” Ibid., 16, 17. Within one hundred years after the death of Luther, Aristotle was again given the chief place in the seats of leaning and the Greek educational system was securely in place within the Protestant school system. This was accomplished with the assistance of such men as John Strum. Strum, a Protestant who was schooled in the papal universities, introduced a new system of education that effected a compromise. Maintaining the form of the Catholic schools, he threw in a wedge of Bible to keep it spiritual. So effective was the educational system that within a short span of time, the papacy was able to reclaim much of the ground lost to the Reformation. It was Strum’s system of education that was generally practiced in Ellen White’s time and which she spoke out against.

Sadly, instead of following the blueprint for true education, our Adventist form of education adopted the educational system of the 1850s that followed the pattern established by Yale, Harvard, and William and Mary. These three schools were known as the daughters of England, and Harvard was even referred to as the American Cambridge. The English universities, Cambridge, Oxford, Rugy, and Eaton, were, in turn, patterned after Paris University, which was the daughter of the papacy. As the center of theological learning, it received many privileges from the pope and retained a close relation to the papal see. (See Ibid., 9, 10)

The educational struggle has gone for ages between truth and error. The Christian and papal methods of instruction are inseparably connected with the history of nations; and we may, therefore, expect that in the final conflict, education will play a significant role. How can we proclaim the second angel’s message if we are wholeheartedly endorsing its system of education. This is as hypocritical as attempting to declare the third angel’s message while keeping Sunday.

“Before we can carry the message of present truth in all its fullness to other countries, we must first break every yoke. We must come into the line of true education, walking in the wisdom of God, and not in the wisdom of the world. God calls for messengers who will be true reformers. We must educate, educate, to prepare a people who will understand the message, and then give the message to the world.” The Madison School, 30

We have an effect on history by the way we educate. True education is the life blood of our movement; without it we shall surely fail. “Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God.” Spaulding and Magan Collection, 56

God, has given us a window of time that is unique in modern history. Never in recent times have the laws governing home schools been as liberal as they are now, but none know how long this window of opportunity will remain open. To historic Adventist families this holds a tremendous significance. Jochebed was given twelve years to prepare Moses for his great work. Jehoida taught Joash for only seven years. At the age of twelve, Christ passed His mother’s teachings and began His heavenly Father’s business. Esther was yet a teen when she was called away from her uncle’s care. “The impressions made on the heart in early life are seen in after years. They may be buried, but they will seldom be obliterated.” Bible Echo, February 13, 1899. By the time a child reaches adolescence, any prospects of significant change in the life course are greatly diminished. Are we willing to take our responsibility seriously and no longer accept second best for our children’s education? If not, the enemy is more than willing to do our job. Until we sense the urgency of this issue, we are destined to fail.

The End