Education With Vision

Why this world needs another institution of higher learning
From the February 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

We are starting a college this fall—certainly not because the world needs another educational institution—but because of what’s missing at all other schools.

Let me explain what makes Imperial College of Edmond so unique.

Paradox in Education

There is no shortage of knowledge in this Information Age. King Solomon was inspired to write in Ecclesiastes 12:12, “…Of making many books there is no end.” And if that was true 3,000 years ago, what about now? We are living in the midst of an incredible knowledge explosion.

Even before Solomon, by about a thousand years, Bible history tells us of another knowledge explosion of sorts. After the Flood, many of Noah’s descendants gathered in the plains of Mesopotamia. They multiplied greatly and gathered themselves in cities to expedite knowledge production. They built a giant tower in the city of Babylon. This brick skyscraper stretched high above the Earth’s surface, much like its modern counterparts in large cities today. Genesis 11 says they built the tower to make a name for themselves. It is clearly implied that they did it to defy God.

This got God’s attention. “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (vv. 5-6).

Here is how the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary interprets this passage: “They will shrink from nothing, however hard or presumptuous, which they may wish to accomplish; so that the evil already in the world will be fearfully increased, and its diffusion accelerated, by this ungodly association, unless means are taken for its immediate dissolution” (emphasis mine). The Babylonians had made significant progress—acquired much knowledge. But their evils had also multiplied greatly. And God knew their sins would only get worse if this knowledge explosion continued unabated. So He intervened to slow down the acceleration of evil.

We are reliving that same history today—except that God has yet to intervene. The awesome amount of knowledge man has produced, especially in the last century, makes the head spin. But it has not solved the problems of this world. In fact, our problems have only gotten worse.

This is the great paradox of modern education. “All of this knowledge,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in the August/September 1970 Plain Truth, “yet virtually no happiness—just accelerating troubles, problems, evils. It’s like being stranded on a raft in mid-ocean. Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”

The reason man is “dying of thirst,” even in the midst of oceans of knowledge, is that he lacks the right kind of knowledge.

The Missing Dimension

Romans 1 identifies this missing dimension in education: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). The Revised Standard translates “hold” as suppress. God says carnal men have suppressed His truth.

Continue in Romans 1:19: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.” God has already shown man what is missing from his pursuit of knowledge. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (v. 20). God is an invisible spirit (John 4:24). But the works of His hands are there for all to see in His creation—if we will just open our eyes. Man, however, has been blinded (ii Cor. 4:4).

Continue in Romans 1: “For although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened” (v. 21; rsv). As Mr. Armstrong summed up in his final book, Mystery of the Ages, “The billions now living on Earth not only are ignorant of the most important knowledge—who and what God is—they seem not to want to know! They are willingly in ignorance of this most important knowledge and relationship possible in human life!” (p. 33; emphasis mine).

Man has acquired enormous amounts of knowledge, but he has rejected the knowledge that is most important—the revelation of who and what is God and what is His purpose for man. That is why God views the “wise” of this world as fools (v. 22; see also Ps. 14:1; i Cor. 3:19).

Because of man’s rejection of revealed knowledge, God is simply allowing human nature to run its course. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind [meaning a mind void of judgment; a worthless mind], to do those things which are not convenient [or lawful]” (Rom. 1:28). Man’s accumulation of knowledge today does not retain God and His knowledge! Paul then describes the end result of this godless pursuit of knowledge—a world that is absolutely filled with unrighteousness, with every imagined evil (read vv. 29-32).

Concerning education’s role in this rejection of God’s knowledge, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Little or nothing is taught about God, but even in the elementary grades the basic concept—the approach to knowledge—is evolution. Is it any wonder, then, that the scholarly do not know who or what God is? They believe what they have been taught” (ibid., p. 36).

Man’s system of education, with its vast accumulation of knowledge, at best is incomplete. It’s like a massive structure built without a foundation.

The Only Foundation

That’s what God’s revelation is—the foundation of all knowledge. It is not all knowledge—just what is most important. The Bible is like a magnificent summary of the way our Creator thinks. Yet very few people—even those who consider themselves religious—actually study it.

At the end of his Gospel, John wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). Few people have ever considered how brief Scripture really is. The whole of Christ’s life and His teachings, as recorded by the four Gospel writers, only fills about 150 pages in most Bibles. The rest of the book contains invaluable knowledge about how the world began, why God entered into a marriage covenant with ancient Israel, how Israel broke that covenant and failed to heed repeated warnings from the prophets, the reason Christ established God’s Church, practical instruction and correction from the apostles for Christians today and countless prophecies about what is to occur in the days leading to the return of Christ. We could go on. It is a big book, but considering all that it covers, it is exceedingly brief.

Those who ignore this magnificent summary, however, miss out on the most important element of their education. They fail to grasp the basic premise of Scripture—that from cover to cover, it is a book about law. It is the Instruction Manual that God sent along with His handiwork—human beings. Its instruction tells us how to live.

Though men have tried and tried to produce their own “instruction manuals,” nothing even remotely compares to or supersedes God’s inspired word. The Holy Bible is the indispensable foundation of any true and right education.

Decline of Liberal Arts

But since the Bible does not contain all knowledge, neither should one be educated in the Bible alone.

God is balanced (Phil. 4:5). He expected mankind to use their minds to discover and create new things—to acquire much more knowledge—as long as it was based on His revelation.

A godly education must reflect God’s balance. That is why Imperial College of Edmond is a liberal arts college based on God’s revelation. In addition to theology, its curriculum includes history, classic literature, language, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, physical education and the arts.

This emphasis on humanities also adds to Imperial’s uniqueness, because most college professors today feel that a liberal education is no longer essential in a college curriculum. Several recent studies have exposed this sad fact. One found that, in 1989, only 35 percent of college instructors believed the classic works of Western civilization were essential to a student’s education. By 1995, that already low figure had dipped further to 28 percent.

In 1996, the National Association of Scholars released a much more comprehensive study on liberal education. Using data from course catalogues at 50 top American universities, they pointed out how core requirements for Bachelor of Arts degrees have changed over the years. Stephen Bertman, in Cultural Amnesia (see review, p. 11), summarized the results of this study: “The percentage of institutions requiring history for graduation had shrunk from 41 percent in 1914 to 12 percent in 1993; those requiring literature had declined from 57 percent in 1914 to 14 percent in 1993. Thus, in 1993, a student could graduate from 88 percent of America’s best colleges and universities without ever having had to study history and from 86 percent without ever having studied literature. And these were America’s best colleges and universities.” A more recent study found that among 25 prominent liberal arts colleges, only five required English majors to read Shakespeare!

It’s bad enough that colleges are missing the spiritual dimension of revelation. Now the classic works of Western civilization have been stripped from their core requirements!

This dramatic change in college curricula, as these studies show, is a relatively new phenomenon. One of the reasons for the sea change is the gross materialism we have already touched on. College instruction is now mostly oriented toward making a living—dollar getting. And since that often requires students to narrow their focus to highly specialized vocational training, the most important courses in a liberal education are ignored.

Another reason the traditional core requirements are vanishing is because education has made a god of science. Scientific study, when not misused, has its rightful place in education. As the Apostle Paul wrote, honest science actually reveals the things of God! But man, as we have seen, has rejected revelation and taken scientific theory to a twisted extreme—one where the creation is worshiped, not the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

A third reason for the shift might be the moral relativism and revisionist history that has swept across educational institutions since World War ii. This modern, politically correct scholarship has come to look down on classical works of Western civilization as being narrow-minded at best—and, at worst, racist, homophobic and misogynistic.

These reasons, and many others no doubt, have prompted higher education to abandon the traditional core requirements of the liberal arts.

Why Liberal Education?

To underscore the importance of liberal education, we must again consider the paradox in education. This paradox has proven, beyond doubt, that even the most advanced technical skill and sophisticated scientific data cannot solve the world’s problems. For that matter, it can’t even keep those problems in check! Evil has multiplied many times over.

Education should accept its part of the blame for this ugly phenomenon. We do not mean to suggest that specialized courses or vocational training are the causes of increasing evil. It’s the absence of a Bible-based liberal arts curriculum that contributes most to the acceleration of evil. Young people ought to be taught how to live before they are taught the finer points of making a living. Liberal education should come before specialized study.

Mortimer Adler, editor of Encyclopedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World, explained why liberal education is more important than vocational training. In his 1962 essay titled “Liberal Schooling in the 20th Century,” he wrote, “As specialized learning becomes more and more fragmented, as the demands for greater and greater technical competence in more and more limited areas of knowledge increase, the greater is everyone’s need for the skills of learning itself, which are acquired through a mastery of the liberal arts, and the greater is everyone’s need for some elementary appreciation of the common humanities, the things that are not only common to all fields of learning, but also remain relatively constant across the centuries, because man himself—our common human natureremains the same. Everything else in our cultural environment can change, and at any rate; but so long as human nature remains unchanged, the task of liberal schooling is the same in the 20th century as it always was” (emphasis mine).

Perhaps without realizing it, Adler alludes to the reason his conclusions are so unpopular today—because of our common human nature. He says that because human nature is the same as it was in centuries past, then liberal schooling is just as valuable today as ever before.

Most modern educators, however, are under the mistaken impression that human nature is constantly getting better. Because they, knowingly or unknowingly, worship the god of science, they assume that we are evolving into a better species all the time. That’s the underlying premise of evolution—that human civilization is gradually improving.

These propositions, however, fly in the face of historical fact! The last 100 years, despite the rapid advance of science, will go down in history as humankind’s bloodiest century ever.

And to say that human nature is improving also flies in the face of God’s revelation! God knew, probably long before He created man, that Adam would very likely reject revelation as the foundation of knowledge. That’s why Revelation 13:8 says Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world. God had a plan in place to redeem this world from sin when Adam rejected God’s truth. Two thousand years later, after placing the Israelites in an ideal environment and giving them His perfect law, God lamented the fact that Israel did not have the heart to obey His commands (Deut. 5:29). A thousand years later, after building a magnificent temple, Solomon admonished the Israelites to pray toward God’s place, that every man might know the plague of his own heart (i Kings 8:38). Four hundred years after Solomon, God inspired the Prophet Jeremiah to write that man’s heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Jesus Christ, in the first century a.d., said that evil thoughts proceed out of man’s heart (Matt. 15:19). And 30 years after Christ’s ministry, the Apostle Paul told the Romans that the carnal mind was naturally hostile to God (Rom. 8:7).

From beginning to end, covering thousands of years of history, the Bible speaks of human nature as being the same—naturally hostile toward God. In fact, because of Satan’s increasing wrath, God said that over time man’s already evil nature would actually degenerate further—go from bad to worse! (ii Tim. 3:13).

That is just the opposite of what the scholars of academia carelessly and arrogantly assume! This world—including its systems of education—is terribly deceived (Rev. 12:9). It’s gotten so bad that, just as in the days of Babel, God will have to intervene.

That man’s human nature is actually getting worse is why liberal education is so important. Education in the liberal arts, as Adler correctly asserts, teaches young people the skills of learning itself: critical reading, attentive listening, lucid writing, precise speech and, above all, reflective thought. A liberal education based on God’s revelation teaches students how to use their minds. It teaches them how to live—how to continue their education well beyond the college years.

Destruction Prophesied

Hosea prophesies of certain events to occur after a modern-day knowledge explosion. Notice Hosea 4:1: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel [referring to Israel’s modern-day descendants; primarily the American and British peoples]: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” In the Bible, truth is synonymous with God’s word (John 17:17). Hosea said that in this end time, there would be no revelation from God in our educational institutions!

Verses 2 and 3 discuss the burdensome weight of rampant sin and evil that is breaking the back of our society. Verse 6 reveals where this widespread ignorance of God’s truth is leading: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee….” Here we see that God actually prophesied of this end-time missing dimension in education!

Destruction is coming—not because we lack human knowledge, but because man has rejected godly knowledge. Notice verse 7: “As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.” While that word increased can mean to multiply in number, Gesenius’ Lexicon says it can also mean “to make or do much,” “to produce much” and “to make great.” God also prophesied of this end-time paradox in education! Man has produced so much knowledge in the last century. But because it is based on the wrong foundation—because he has rejected God’s knowledge—our sins are increasing at an equally astounding rate! And that, God says, will eventually lead to worldwide destruction!

Education With Vision

God, even now, is preparing to intervene directly in the affairs of men. Jesus said the coming Great Tribulation will be worse than anything this world has ever seen. But He assured us that God will cut that dreadful time short—before man destroys himself (read Matt. 24:21-22).

Just as He did at the Tower of Babel, God will intervene to save man from himself—and then the process of re-educating this entire world will begin! Acts 3:19-21 refers to this as the “times of restitution of all things.” It’s when God will send His Son to rule this Earth along with those resurrected saints who will have qualified for positions within Christ’s administration. These few will then help Christ re-establish godly revelation to its rightful place as the foundation of all knowledge.

That means the curriculum at every school—from elementary on up—will be based on God’s law! It says in Isaiah 2:3 that people will flow into Jerusalem to be taught God’s law. Headquarters will establish the curriculum, and Christ’s administrative staff—the teachers of the World Tomorrow—will see that it disseminates to all corners of the Earth. Isaiah 30:20-22 says these teachers will supernaturally appear at times to remind people of the right way to live.

With a universal system of education established by God, it is easy to envision God’s knowledge filling the Earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9). Everyone—all with different creative talents and abilities, but with a common understanding of God’s purpose for man—will finally see eye to eye (Isa. 52:7-8).

Everyone will be educated in the liberal arts! Everyone will be taught how to live before pursuing vocational training, before settling into a career, before getting married, before raising children. All people will be taught how to use their minds—how to add wisdom and understanding to their knowledge acquisition—before they make the most critical decisions of their lives.

And then, once they have been given that foundation, their real education will begin. They can apply that all-important knowledge in every aspect of life.

What a vision!

True education is a life-long process. It’s about realizing your incredible human potential. That cannot be accomplished in school or in college alone. But with God’s vision as a foundation, those few years of college can certainly serve as a springboard for greater success and happiness in life.

Imperial College of Edmond is a small foretaste of what colleges will be like in the World Tomorrow. It’s not like other colleges and universities today—those institutions suffocating under the increasing pressure of gross materialism, godless science and politically correct nonsense.

Imperial College’s uniqueness is summed up best in the school motto: “Education with vision.”