Education With Vision
Chapter 1: The Origin of Modern Education
There is no shortage of knowledge in this information Age. King Solomon was inspired to write in Ecclesiastes 12:12, “[O]f making many books there is no end ….” And if that was true three thousand 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” (verses 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 throughout). 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.
For every two marriages in America this year, one will end up in divorce. Yet, since World War ii, we have been flooded with movies, programs, books, pamphlets and articles on the subjects of love, marriage and sex. Why so much divorce?
Most young people become sexually active before they reach 20. And each year, one out of 10 teenagers contracts a sexually transmitted disease. Almost 1 million teenagers in the u.s. become pregnant each year. Just over half of these pregnancies end in births, about one third in abortion, and the rest in miscarriage (1999, Alan Guttmacher Institute). No amount of modern sexual “education” seems to be curbing these alarming statistics.
Each year, about 20,000 Americans are murdered within the country’s own borders. The u.s. has been in wars abroad where the casualty count was much less, yet the public outcry far worse!
America is the richest, most prosperous nation in the history of civilization. Yet, in 2001, 11.7 percent of Americans lived below the poverty level. One year later, that number increased to 12.1 percent (34.6 million people). That is a paradox. And what of the abysmal conditions in Third World countries?
One certain reason for widespread poverty is the fighting and war within nations. Saddam Hussein’s regime is but the latest example of a government that abused and tortured its subjects. He killed thousands of his own people—some with biological weapons. Rwanda is another fairly recent example. In 1994, that Third World nation lost close to one million of its citizens to genocide! Think about that—one million people. And of course, many pages could also be written about modern military conflicts between nations.
Yet mankind’s climb toward worldwide annihilation has been closely followed by the persistent acquisition of massive amounts of knowledge. In the prosperous nations of the West, more students are going to college than ever before. In the u.s., since the 1950s, the number of colleges has almost doubled! Over 45 percent of all Americans over age 25 have gone to college. A hundred years ago, only four percent of men between the ages of 18 and 21 were enrolled in college.
All of this knowledge. All of these unhappy, miserable, violent conditions. Why the paradox?
For decades now, many of the most educated scientists have insisted that the solution to all of the problems of society could be found if only we were given sufficient knowledge. It seems the great educators and politicians of the day still cling to such faulty logic. It is time for the great minds of this day to face facts. World evils are increasing as fast as knowledge! Why the paradox? Can the increase in knowledge and the skyrocketing evils possibly be connected? Could the one be the cause of the other? The fact is, every effect has one or more causes. So what is the cause of the unhappy conditions found in society today?
Notice what Herbert W. Armstrong wrote concerning this paradox: “That does not necessarily mean that the knowledge produced caused the evils. It does mean that the knowledge produced did not cure existing evils or prevent new evils” (The Missing Dimension in Sex, page 9; request your free copy of this vital book). In other words, there is something missing in the knowledge man has acquired.
Elsewhere, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “What is wrong? Is it wrong to acquire or possess knowledge? No, but there are two kinds of knowledge—true and false—right and wrong—good and evil. In pursuit of knowledge man has used one source—the ‘scientific’ method of experimentation, discovery and reason” (Plain Truth, August-September 1970).
Furthermore, he wrote, “[E]rrors almost always come from a false basic premise …” (The Missing Dimension in Sex, page 10).
Man started off in the wrong direction, and, even though some of the knowledge acquired along the way has been good, it’s all based on the wrong premise. Therefore, man has yet to arrive at the desired result, or effect!
The Scientific Method of Knowledge Production
We can actually trace this faulty direction in this world’s knowledge accumulation right back to the first book of the Bible.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …” (Genesis 1:26). Do you suppose that knowing who you are and why you exist has anything to do with the right kind of education? It does if you are interested in starting off on the right premise.
Man was created out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), yet God placed within him a human spirit (Job 32:8; request our free booklet What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind). After placing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God began to reveal a certain set of guidelines or boundaries. Notice: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Right away we see revelation from God; the revealed knowledge of what is right and wrong. God revealed a certain set of boundaries to Adam and Eve. He told them what they could and could not eat. God was educating them! And they had to trust Him—to believe that what He was teaching was right.
But in Genesis 3, we see where false education began.
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:1-4). Whom would they believe? God or Satan? To this point, Adam and Eve only had God’s word that they were mortal and could die. The devil tried to convince them that there were no God-ordained boundaries and that they could not die.
Verse 5: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” In effect, Satan said, “You can know good and evil, you can set your own boundaries, by experimenting for yourself!” Adam and Eve were confronted with two choices. They could know good and evil by taking God’s word for it, or they could know by experimentation.
They chose the latter. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (verse 6).
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “They pioneered in deciding for themselves what is right and what is wrong—what is righteousness and what is sin! And humanity has been doing what seems right in its own eyes ever since.
“And how did they do it? They 1) rejected revelation, 2) used observation, 3) used experimentation and 4) used human reason. And that is precisely the ‘scientific’ method used by modern science today!” (ibid., page 16).
Adam and Eve rejected God’s word, observed the fruit, experimented with it by deciding to taste it, and then reasoned that it was pretty good and would not cause harm. They decided that the way to know if God was right or wrong was to put it to the test—by experiment. Webster’s defines experiment, “test, trial, experience; to try out a new procedure, idea or activity.”
In other words, Adam and Eve conducted the first scientific experiment. And once they rejected God’s revelation as the foundation of all knowledge, God cut them off from the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). That knowledge, which is still cut off from the majority of mankind today, is the missing dimension in education. That missing dimension is revelation from God!
Why would God do such a thing? Is that fair, to cut off something that is good? Later, we will see why He did it.
It is because this missing dimension has been cut off from man that there has been so much suffering today. Mr. Armstrong wrote, “I found revealed the fact that the very foundation of education to fit one for happy and successful living is being totally ignored. That foundation is awareness of the purpose of life, knowledge of what man is, recognition of the true values as opposed to the false, and knowledge of the way which is the cause of every desired effect. That knowledge is the dimension that is missing in today’s education” (Plain Truth, October 1975). Because the “great” minds of this world are cut off from spiritual knowledge, modern education began on a false, basic premise. For that reason, it has become almost entirely materialistic.
The Missing Dimension
Romans 1 also identifies this missing dimension in education. Verse 18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” The Revised Standard Version 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 shewed 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” (verse 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 (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Continue in Romans 1: “[F]or 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” (verse 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!” (page 33; this book is available to you free upon request).
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 (verse 22; see also Psalms 14:1 and 1 Corinthians 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]” (Romans 1:28). Man’s accumulation of knowledge today does not retain God’s 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 verses 29-32).
Concerning education’s role in rejecting 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., page 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. In chapter 2, we will further examine the right foundation on which education should be built.
Development of Modern Education
Education, as defined in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, is “an attempt on the part of the adult members of a human society to shape the development of the coming generation in accordance with its own ideals of life.” In other words, education is what man has made it to be.
What we call “modern” education traces its origins back to Plato, the pagan Greek philosopher whose educational influence extended over the first half of the 4th century. He was the first to establish a regular curriculum in a fixed place. He called it the academy.
Plato’s educational philosophy was similar to that of the Greek philosophers before him. Paul encountered some of these types at Mars hill. “[A]ll the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). Their philosophy, like Plato’s, was on gaining some new knowledge—not on building character! It is a system founded upon vanity. The human mind is the god of education in this world.
For centuries now, society’s greatest educators have been taught in schools modeled after Plato’s academy. “The influence of Plato has extended far beyond the limits of the Platonic schools,” notes Encyclopedia Britannica. The first college of our modern pattern was the University of Paris, founded in the 12th century. Oxford soon followed.
Some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in America include Harvard, Yale and Princeton. In 1819, Thomas Jefferson established the first state school, the University of Virginia, in an effort to divorce education from religion altogether.
But in this 20th century, perhaps no influence has done more to saturate our educational system in materialism than German rationalism.
Webster’s has two interesting definitions for rationalism: “1) The principle or habit of accepting reason as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief or conduct. 2) The doctrine that human reason, unaided by divine revelation, is an adequate or the sole guide to all attainable religious truth.” In other words, there is no real authority; there is no absolute right or wrong; there are no boundaries; you decide for yourself! That sounds strikingly similar to the approach Adam and Eve used!
One of the most influential fathers of this free-thinking approach was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Revolt against the whole civilized environment in which he was brought up is the keynote of Nietzsche’s literary career. His revolt against Christian faith and morals turns him into a proudly atheistic ‘free-thinker,’ and preacher of a new ‘master’ morality, which transposes the current valuations, deposes the ‘Christian virtues,’ and incites the ‘over-man’ ruthlessly to trample under foot the servile herd of the weak, degenerate and poor in spirit.” Nietzsche spent the better part of his life in health resorts because of his frail, sickly nature. In 1888, at the age of 44, he was pronounced hopelessly insane and remained that way until he died in 1900. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica realizes that “Nietzsche’s writings must be understood in their relation to these circumstances of his life.”
Nietzsche was a proponent of the theory of nihilism, which says that “traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless.” This philosophy is at the heart of German rationalism. Since traditional values and beliefs are unfounded, rationalistic thought instead embraces what is called value relativism. In 1987, Professor Alan Bloom of the University of Chicago wrote about this intellectual phenomenon in his book The Closing of the American Mind.
According to Webster’s, relativism is “a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them.” Bloom showed in his book this thinking amounts to “a great release from the perpetual tyranny of good and evil, with their cargo of shame and guilt, and the endless efforts that pursuit of the one and the avoidance of the other enjoin.” He wrote how this “longing to shuck off constraints and have one peaceful, happy world is the first of the affinities between our real American world and that of German philosophy in its most advanced form.”
Bloom incisively explained how this modern form of thinking was embraced by American universities after World War ii. He highlighted two philosophers who profoundly influenced this way of thinking in American schools: Freud and Weber. And these two, Bloom said, “were profoundly influenced by Nietzsche.”
Many years before Bloom authored his critical analysis, Mr. Armstrong correctly identified the main problem emerging in modern education. In 1965, he wrote, “The 19th and 20th centuries have witnessed the absorption of German ‘rationalism’ into the educational bloodstream. There has been a dangerous drift into materialism and collectivism. God is ignored. Revelation is rejected” (Plain Truth, August 1965).
Rationalism is the belief that human reason is the final authority—the chief source of all knowledge. Encyclopedia Britannica defines the term this way: “In its commonest use it is applied to all who decline to accept the authority of the Bible as the infallible record of a divine revelation, and is practically synonymous with free-thinking. This type of rationalism is based largely upon the results of modern historical and archaeological investigation. The story of the creation in the book of Genesis is shown, from the point of view of chronology, to be a poetic or symbolic account by the discovery of civilizations of much greater antiquity.”
Trouble at Harvard
Again, notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex: “In this feverish development of knowledge production, scholars in universities have been placing emphasis on academic freedom. Academic freedom is defined as the independent judgment allowed teachers, scholars, scientists, students, in the pursuit of knowledge. … Science as a whole … [has] rejected utterly revelation as a source of basic knowledge!” (page 9).
Rationalism, nihilism, value relativism and academic freedom are all terms that essentially mean no boundaries! And the first students to pursue this type of education were Adam and Eve. For 6,000 years now, the rest of mankind has followed suit.
Each year, in my Principles of Living college course, I have my students read a wonderful article printed in Esquire in September 1981. It is titled, “The Trouble With Harvard.” The author, Timothy Foote, graduated from Harvard in 1952. He wrote, “Many students drift through Harvard with a nagging sense of failure and anxiety. ‘There is so much freedom here,’ says Kiyo Morimoto, ‘that studies become extracurricular. And you can’t get through if your studies are extracurricular.’ … You didn’t have to go to class because nobody took attendance. And you could get unlimited extensions on papers during the term …
“Morimoto is worried about Harvard’s objections to using authority, all up and down the line: it’s not insisting that students get papers in on time, not insisting on formal meetings between students and advisers, students and tutors, even between students and faculty. ‘Harvard is deeply ambiguous about authority,’ he says, ‘about being firm and clear and unambiguous.’ Today all authority is seen as negative.”
That’s academic freedom. There is no right or wrong. You decide. Harvard students, Foote continued, “are turned loose in a system practically without discipline, or order, or viable requirements, or supervision, or even advice.”
Granted, not all universities are that lax with respect to structure and discipline. But this is, after all, Harvard—arguably America’s most prestigious educational institution.
Harvard was at the forefront of change during the sexual revolution in the 1960s. Foote quoted one professor as saying, “On any given night, the odds are against finding anyone in his or her own bed.”
“Few people seem to disagree,” Foote continued. “By the standards of the age, there’s nothing wrong in that, either. Except that it tends to produce large amounts of emotional exhaustion, domestic squalor, and sheer noise.” In fact, a thousand Harvard students per year seek some sort of psychological counseling. And each term, 450 students are granted medical excuses for putting off exams. So much freedom! So many sick, emotionally immature students.
Foote concluded, “In a society more preoccupied with the labels on the suitcase than with what’s inside, Harvard is still the best label in town.”
It sure is a nice-looking label. But is true education in the label—or in what’s inside?
Anciently, the great scholars in Greece and Rome placed great impetus on constantly gaining new knowledge—some new thing. Both of those empires eventually crumbled. In the United States today, many of the most prestigious schools are located in an environment of moral and social decay. And like those great empires before us, we will also eventually topple as a society, unless we come to realize that education is not something you go out and get! It’s a way of life. But the “great” educators of this society are ignorant of this fact. And their masses of pupils never stop to question their educational methods.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “To question this world’s system of education, or its standards, would seem ridiculous. That’s because people are prone to assume—to carelessly take for granted without question whatever is popular—whatever has general public acceptance” (Plain Truth, December 1965). Other American universities do not question Harvard. They look to Harvard as the standard!
Two Main Problems in Education
In the above-mentioned Plain Truth article, Mr. Armstrong pinpointed the two main problems in education today: 1) what is being taught; and 2) how it is being taught.
First, what is being taught? A mixture of truth and error. Remember, Adam and Eve took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There is some good. There are many courses in school that are basic and fundamental to a child’s development; courses in math, reading, writing, spelling, literature, etc. But schools are way off on the most basic knowledge each child should understand: Why man? What is the purpose for life? We are missing this most vital knowledge of all! That is why our society is destined to crumble as those before us. “My people are destroyed for lack of [God’s] knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee …” (Hosea 4:6).
The second main problem with education is how it is being taught. Education has become a system of memory training only. This “educational method,” Mr. Armstrong wrote, “instills the habit of assuming—of carelessly taking for granted—without question—whatever is commonly accepted” (ibid.).
In short, children are not being taught how to think, but to merely follow along with the rest of the crowd. It is only a fraction of humanity who truly know why they believe what they do!
Education today teaches students how to be followers—not leaders. Our world fills the minds of people with false education from early childhood. And because we like to be well thought of, to be liked, and to be accepted, people are trapped into conforming—into following the false teachings of this world like blind sheep!
The Results of the Experiment
For 6,000 years, man has been doing what seems right with regard to education. But God says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). That “way” began in the Garden of Eden.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “In taking to themselves the forbidden fruit, the first humans took to themselves the determination of what is good and what is evil. I repeat—in so doing, they rejected the fact that God’s living, inexorable spiritual law is the way of good—the cause of all good—and its transgression the way of evil—the cause of all evil. Since they and humanity in general after them have taken to themselves the determination of what is good, they of necessity have followed the way contrary to God’s law. They have followed the way that has produced all the vast mountain of evils that has descended on this sick, sick world!” (The Missing Dimension in Sex, page 17). Instead of heeding what God said, they decided to experiment with God’s knowledge. Man insists on eating forbidden fruit to see if it is really bad for him. Of course, the Bible does not contain all knowledge. God expected man to develop new knowledge. But it had to be based on revealed knowledge if man was ever to be truly educated!
Instead, man has made a botch of everything he has touched! Man became so twisted and perverted in the days of Noah that God was actually sorry for ever creating us! (Genesis 6:5-6).
Because of man’s descent into materialistic education in the days of Nimrod and the tower of Babel, God had to confound his language just to keep it from getting so bad, so fast! (Genesis 11:6-7).
God prophesied that this end time would be as bad as the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39). We have already covered statistics illustrating this fact.
For 6,000 years, man has virtually destroyed every part of this creation he was intended to beautify and maintain. For 6,000 years, man has experimented with what is right and wrong. He has educated himself in this knowledge. And the result? Mr. Armstrong wrote, “[H]umanity has produced, also, a vast mountain of evils. His fund of knowledge is a mixture of good and evil—true and false—he has produced a civilization full of empty lives, discontent, unhappiness, pain and suffering, crime, immorality, broken homes and family life, corruption, injustice, unfairness, violence, pollution, war and death. Yet man refuses to believe the results of his own experiment” (Plain Truth, August-September 1970).
The results of mankind’s misguided experiment are there for all to see. But man fails to look at those results. “Humans do not learn well from experience, nor all at once,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “The lesson of the forbidden fruit has not been learned by humanity in 6,000 years” (Autobiography vol. 1).
Steering the Ship
From Every Man a King, by Orison Marden
A certain man of no great learning, so runs an old legend, fell heir to a ship. He knew nothing of the sea, nothing of navigation or engineering, but the notion seized him to take a voyage and command his own ship. The ship was gotten under way, the self-appointed captain allowing the crew to go ahead with their usual duties, as the multiplicity of operations confused the amateur navigator. Once headed out to sea, however, the work grew simpler, and the captain had time to observe what was going on. As he strolled on the forward deck, he saw a man turning a big wheel, now this way, now that.
“What in the world is that man doing?” he asked.
“That’s the helmsman. He is steering the ship.”
“Well, I don’t see any use in his fiddling away there all the time. There’s nothing but water ahead, and I guess the sails can push her forward. When there’s land in sight, or a ship coming head on, there’ll be time enough to do steering. Put up all the sails and let her go.”
The order was obeyed, and the few survivors of the wreck that followed had cause to remember the foolish captain who thought a ship steered herself.
You say no such man ever existed, and you are right. That isn’t admitting that no such foolishness exists, however. You wouldn’t be so foolish, would you?
Think a moment. Are you not in command of something more delicate, more precious, than any ship—your own life, your own mind? How much attention are you giving to the steering of that mind?
Chapter 2: What Is True Education?
Man’s vigorous pursuit of knowledge has done nothing to bring about a solution to world evils. The world’s system of education is based on a fundamentally wrong premise! With the “knowledge” explosion running rampant across the classrooms of society, how can you sift through the glut of information, much of it useless, and fasten yourself to the right foundation so that you might become a truly educated individual? It’s going to be a challenge. But it can be done!
Herbert W. Armstrong once said, “The future welfare and even the existence of civilization is dependent on the educational system” (Plain Truth, December 1965). Even an agnostic would have to agree with such a statement. For how could an ignorant and uneducated people endure a nuclear age without destroying one another? Nevertheless, education is something the majority in society take for granted, never stopping to question the current educational methods or teachings. One who is truly educated never relies on assumption! Don’t take things for granted. Prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Two Kinds of Knowledge
The Bible reveals that there are two different kinds of knowledge—good and evil. Some have equated this with spiritual knowledge, the good, and material knowledge, the evil. This, however, would make all forms of material, physical knowledge evil, which is certainly not the case.
In Genesis 1:27-28, Adam was given dominion over the physical creation and instructed by God to subdue it. Dominion means “to reign or rule over”—the material creation, that is. To subdue means “to subject to oneself.” To fulfill this God-given assignment, Adam needed to know how to govern! He had to learn how to make things with wood, to start a fire, to grow fruits and vegetables, to work the land. To accomplish this, Adam needed material knowledge.
1 Corinthians 2 reveals why man only, of all the created physical beings, could accomplish such a feat. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? …” (verse 11). Man was created with a human spirit which sets him apart from animals. He has mind power. (Request our free booklet What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind.)
This human spirit, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “imparts the power of intellect to the human physical brain. The spirit cannot see, hear, taste, smell or feel. The brain sees through the eye, hears through the ear, etc. The ‘human’ spirit cannot of itself think. The physical brain thinks.
“What, then, is the function of this ‘human’ spirit? It is not a ‘soul.’ But, 1) it imparts the power of intellect—of thinking, and of mind power, to the human brain; and 2) it is the very means God has instilled, making possible a personal relationship between human man and divine God” (Mystery of the Ages, page 105).
Notice, this spirit is not a soul. The physical human body is what became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). This temporary life is made possible and sustained by the breath and the blood, just as it is with animals. But the addition of the human spirit in man gives us the awesome power of intellect so we can think; so we can learn to work with matter; so we can acquire material knowledge through the five senses.
Now notice the rest of 1 Corinthians 2:11: “… even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” In addition to working with material things, Adam was to maintain and develop a loving relationship with his Father—God. He was to marry and develop a loving relationship with a woman—Eve. Furthermore, they were to have children whom they were to love, teach and train to be honest and upstanding citizens.
So we see from the earliest point in man’s history that he had to know how to deal with things (physical knowledge), and how to get along with God and other people (spiritual knowledge). Acquiring the physical knowledge is possible because of the human spirit created in man. The spiritual knowledge, however, comes only through help from a spiritual being—that is, revelation from God. To become truly educated, man needs both kinds of knowledge!
Bible Only the Foundation
Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex: “God’s Word—His instruction manual for mankind—is the foundation of all knowledge. It is not the sum total of knowledge. It is the foundation—the true premise—the starting point—the concept that directs the approach to the acquisition of further knowledge.
“God intended for man to produce additional knowledge. He gave us the basis—the foundation—the premise—the concept. But He also provided us with eyes with which to observe. With hands and feet to explore and measure. With means to produce laboratories, test tubes, means of experimentation. He gave us awesome minds with which to think.
“God intended man to use observation, experimentation and human reason. He supplied us with the basis—the foundation—the start in the right direction, with the right concept. But our first parents rejected the most vital dimension in all knowledge. And mankind has continued to reject the very foundation of all knowledge. Knowledge production has been operating without a foundation—based on false premises and erroneous hypotheses.”
God’s revelation is the foundation of all knowledge. It’s not all knowledge—just what’s 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 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 building block of any true and right education.
With the Bible as our beginning premise, God expects our minds to be trained, developed and used to His honor and glory. The overwhelming majority in this world seek after knowledge while rejecting God—many even admit this. And a very few at the opposite end of the spectrum believe that Bible study is all we should do to be truly educated. Neither extreme is true education, as we shall see.
God Wants You to Succeed!
Christ did not come so we might be uneducated and live in poverty. Instead, He said, “… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Christ wants us to live an ever-expanding, happy, joyous life—always developing our minds. He wants us to learn how to deal with things. He wants us to have a productive and educated life now!
Some have concluded that a God-centered education means you must set aside all materialistic pursuits. But true education makes it possible for us to use God’s material creation intelligently according to the way He intended it to be used! Remember, God gave Adam dominion over the creation and then admonished him to dress and improve the garden (Genesis 2:15).
Notice this quote by Mr. Armstrong from the December 1965 Plain Truth: “The Bible is not a book of sentimental religion, as most people think of religion. It contains the foundation of all knowledge—whether of science, of history, of psychology, of genetics, of sound business principles, of health, of international relations, of government, of family relations, of sex, of social science—the basis and the foundation of all branches of knowledge.”
For you to become educated, the Bible must come alive. It contains practical, common-sense principles, which, if applied, will bring about successful and prosperous results. iii John 2 says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
Few people grasp the true meaning and intent of Christ’s promise in Matthew 6:33. In the verses leading up to this promise, Christ encourages us to rely on God for our needs—to provide food, clothing and shelter. But the conditions for these blessings are stated in verse 33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Notice this! Does Christ tell us to discard everything material on the way to becoming educated? No, He says only to seek the Kingdom and His righteousness first. The Kingdom is most important. But there are other things to seek second, third, etc. The problem is, most people make money, a career choice, a love interest, or acquiring material knowledge their number-one aim in life. And that’s why, with all of our modern, “educational” pursuits, we are crumbling as a society!
Herbert Armstrong was certainly a great educator. He was an accomplished writer and speaker. He wrote hundreds of articles and booklets along with several books. Millions regularly watched his weekly television program. In addition, he founded three colleges on two continents. Let us examine how Mr. Armstrong became such a success, and then look at what he expected of the students attending his colleges.
Not Just a Bible School
The need for capable and educated young men and women for God’s Church became clear to Mr. Armstrong in 1946. That was when the seed was planted for establishing what would later become Ambassador College. “As I thought and planned—and prayed for wisdom and guidance,” he wrote, “the kind of school to be established gradually took shape in my mind. It must not be a ‘Bible school’ or a theological seminary. There was a vital reason!
“The type of college soon became crystal clear. It must be a liberal arts college, offering a general cultural education, with biblical and theological training offered as one of several major courses” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, vol. 2).
But why a liberal arts education at a religious school? What was this “vital reason” he spoke of? Notice what he said in a sermon on September 5, 1981: “It had to be a different kind of college than any other. Why did it need to be a liberal arts college? Why not just a Bible college to educate people for the ministry? We had to educate them for other things. I wanted an educated ministry to be an educated ministry, not just Bible alone. I wanted them to have the things that are necessary for a well-educated person.”
Here we see the ideal educational institution, as described by Mr. Armstrong. It was one in which the Bible was to serve as the foundation. “The Word of God is the foundation of all knowledge” was the slogan etched in stone on the headquarters campus of the college located in Pasadena, California.
Ambassador College (ac) began in 1947 with just four students and eight faculty members. With no qualified teachers in the Church, Mr. Armstrong solicited the best and most qualified instructors from this world to come in and teach at Ambassador. Three of them had Ph.D.’s. Three others had masters degrees. These instructors were experts in their fields. One was a French teacher; another taught English for many years in India. But all of them had gone through the educational training of this world.
As the school year approached, Mr. Armstrong faced much negative pressure from the instructors he hired. In organizing the class schedules, the board reduced his required three-hour Bible course to a two-hour minor. Because he was traveling so much, Mr. Armstrong didn’t notice the schedule change until it was too late. The school year had started.
To combat this undercurrent of hostility, Mr. Armstrong decreed that all students and faculty were required to attend his Bible class. He also added a weekly forum to the class schedule. This was also required for the faculty.
He later wrote, “I am sure that first school year was a bit uncomfortable to some of the faculty members attending my lectures. But it did establish the educational foundation for Ambassador College. And it became very convincing to all four students!
But, with a faculty trained in this world’s scholarship, I found that it required determined dominance on my part, plus vigilance, to assure [a right education]” (Autobiography, vol. 2).
It took “determined dominance” on Mr. Armstrong’s part to ensure that those four students were being educated on the right foundation. And that’s what it will take for you to become educated. Mr. Armstrong set out to create an atmosphere for learning at Ambassador. In addition to the normal class schedule of 15 to 18 hours per week, students also worked 20 hours to gradually pay off their college tuition. There was a weekly Bible study and Sabbath service. Every other week, the men met for Ambassador Club—a club designed to teach men how to speak and communicate, how to think on their feet. Its acclaimed Ambassador Auditorium sponsored a yearly concert series, attracting many of the top musical performers in the world. Mr. Armstrong always valued events of fine culture and quality. He wanted the students to experience them as well.
AC students were taught the finer points of dating, the proper roles for men and women, and how to prepare for marriage. That’s quite a contrast to the universities of this world where the average 18-year-old is turned loose in an environment that promotes partying, competition, cheating and multiple sex partners.
Mr. Armstrong wanted students to get involved in intramural sports. Yet it was never to be a college that revolved around sports, as is the case with most universities today.
There were plenty of opportunities for AC students to travel as well. Knowing the value of world travel for a complete education, instructors, counselors and resident assistants encouraged students to take advantage of such opportunities.
All of these opportunities combined, helped students acquire a balanced, well-rounded education. Ambassador College, Mr. Armstrong wrote, was never to be “a factory of knowledge production, but of human character production” (Plain Truth, August-September 1970). What a profound truth! The true education of an individual should be measured by what one is instead of by what one knows! Yet, modern education focuses only on knowledge accumulation. What good is that, if it’s wrong knowledge? Or even if it is the right knowledge, what good is it if it’s not applied?
If we go back even further in Mr. Armstrong’s life, we will see how a man who never went to college, eventually became a great success, physically and spiritually.
Ambition More Than Desire
A couple of things happened to Mr. Armstrong as a teenager that aroused a burning desire to be a success in life. While working at a hotel at the age of 16, Mr. Armstrong was praised by his manager for his diligent effort. He told a young Herbert that he could be a great success in life if he really pushed himself. This was the “spark of ambition,” as Mr. Armstrong called it, that led to a great education. The spark of ambition, he later wrote, “is the vital ingredient that has been missing in most human lives.” Mr. Armstrong began devouring books: studying great biographies, philosophy, business administration.
In his readings, he came across the Autobiography of Ben Franklin, an American classic. He wrote, “I have been greatly influenced by the tremendous impress on my life that resulted from a triple reading of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. After reading that, I sought to learn by the experiences of other successful men” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, vol. 1).
When he was 18, he found a book titled Choosing a Vocation. After thorough analysis, he decided he would be best suited for a job in advertising or journalism.
Immediately, he went to his uncle Frank for advice. For the next 11 years, according to Mr. Armstrong, uncle Frank “practically steered my life.” He asked his uncle whether or not he should study advertising and journalism in a university. “Well, Herbert,” he counseled, “that depends on you and how much ambition and drive you have.” Uncle Frank continued, “Education comes from study—from books—from lectures—from contacts—from travel—from thinking about what you see and hear and read—and from experience.
“The reason we have to maintain schools and universities is simply that most people are too lazy—most lack the ambition and persistence, the drive—to procure an education outside of schools and colleges” (ibid.).
This is the well-balanced education Mr. Armstrong later established at Ambassador College. Early in his life, Mr. Armstrong learned that education is not something you go out and get. It’s a way of life! Education is rightly developed character. This is not to say that all college courses are wrong. But a college degree does not make you educated.
And what was Mr. Armstrong’s response to his uncle’s advice? “I went home and thought it over thoroughly. Ambition is not only the desire, but the determination and the will to achieve the desired goal.”
Most want to be a success. Most want to be considered educated. But they don’t have the will and desire to really seek after it. We have been taught to assume and follow along with the crowd. Never assume! Why do people usually lack the will and determination to achieve their desired goal? Because our selfish society teaches you to get what you desire immediately. “Don’t work too hard,” the saying goes. It takes hard work and self-discipline to become truly educated. But most are not willing to put forth that kind of effort.
Because of our lack of will and determination, the “educated” masses float along as victims of circumstance. Very few ever stop to think about what they are doing and why. Education today does not teach students how to think.
Two Ingredients to Education
In his early years, there were two main ingredients in Mr. Armstrong’s life that helped to get him started in the right direction toward true education. First, as we have seen, he developed a great sense of ambition—not just the desire, but the will to be successful. Certainly, several things helped to develop this ambition, but nothing sparked it more than Ben Franklin’s autobiography. After this, Mr. Armstrong sought to learn from the lives of great men. This is an important biblical principle.
In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul encouraged the brethren to follow his example. “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you” (verse 7, Revised Standard Version). Paul and his companions worked day and night and were careful to pay the members for any food, as verse 8 points out. Notice why they did this: “It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate” (verse 9, rsv). They could have demanded more from the brethren, but didn’t because they wanted to set an example of hard work!
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” In 1 Peter 2:21, it says Christ left us an example so that we might follow His steps. Mr. Armstrong realized the importance of following in the steps of great men of history. What an impact a successful example of a great man or woman can have on others. It was the main reason Mr. Armstrong wrote his autobiography. He said, “[T]his autobiography is being written in the hope that these unusual life experiences may bring inspiration, encouragement, and benefit to many” (ibid.).
Paul went on to say in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work” (rsv). Paul commanded such people to work hard, make their own living, and to do it quietly (verse 12). Hard work ought to be considered a blessing, instead of a curse. Working hard, and doing the best job you can, is what really makes you happy. It takes hard work to properly educate yourself in how to live.
The second main ingredient that can be attributed to Mr. Armstrong’s good education and eventual success is that he had much respect for, and continually sought after the wisdom and counsel of his elders. We have seen how he looked to his uncle, who practically steered his life for 11 years. We find many scriptures that teach us to search for and listen to wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15; 19:20; 20:5; Ephesians 6:1-3).
As an indication of where we have arrived as an “educated” society, one only needs to compare the role models and wise counselors children looked up to years ago, with those they look up to now. Yesterday’s role models, like Jesus Christ, Abraham, David, Paul, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Herbert Armstrong, could hardly be compared with the athletes and rock stars most teens worship today. Neither can the wisdom and counsel of parents, relatives or the elderly, be compared with the instruction most young people now seek from their peers.
Living in an immoral society where the family is disintegrating makes the acquisition of a proper education difficult. It can be done. But if you are to be educated, you are going to have to seek after that spark of ambition and then drive yourself with all the will and determination of a great warrior.
Keys for Success
To assist you with that battle, we will conclude this chapter with seven points to becoming properly educated.
1) Build a solid spiritual foundation. We were put on Earth to become educated in spiritual and material knowledge. Unless proper spiritual knowledge is our foundation in life, everything will be established on the wrong premise.
In Matthew 7:24, Christ gave His disciples knowledge, but then He admonished them to go out and apply it! Those who do He likens to a man who built a house on a solid-rock foundation—immovable during a severe storm. Those who don’t He likens to a man who built on a foundation of sand. The consequences of building on a wrong foundation are deadly. Soon, a “storm” like no other is coming upon this immoral society. Will you be able to stand? If so, realize this: Knowledge unapplied is of no value.
Several other verses should be studied within this context: Psalm 111:10; Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 10:31.
To be a real success, our pursuit after material knowledge must be based on the right, immovable spiritual foundation.
2) Capture the vision of the kind of person you would like to become. Without vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Seeking first God’s Kingdom is the ultimate vision. But there are lesser goals, which can be attained through right priorities and hard work. Understanding your role as a man or woman should be foremost in your mind, since the strength of a nation depends on solid individual families. For the man, determining your life’s vocation or profession is critical to being the kind of provider God intends you to be. Mr. Armstrong took an aptitude test to see where he would best fit into the job market. He had a goal, a vision. But just desiring that was not enough. He had to have the will to achieve it.
3) Prepare and work to meet your goals. It’s been said that opportunity favors the prepared man. Proverbs 24:27 says, “First work your farm, and till the soil—then marry and set up house” (Moffatt).
Notice the system of priorities. Some men have set out with every passion and desire to find that special someone, while spending very little time or effort to secure a good job or to better themselves educationally. Heed the proverb!
Marriage itself is a career, not to be entered into until both parties have prepared. But most don’t understand that marriage is a God-plane relationship that represents the marriage of Jesus Christ to the Church (Ephesians 5:21-32; Revelation 19:7; request our free booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete?). Consequently, many enter into the sacred marriage vows unprepared and not really committed, thinking divorce is always an option in case things do not work out. But regardless of what society teaches, marriage is a sacred covenant, not only between the husband and wife, but between them and God! And a covenant that momentous should not be made hastily, without counting the cost; but only after much planning and preparation.
Likewise then, you are not ready for a vocational career until you have been properly prepared. Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, “The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—whether it be business, profession, occupation or marriage.”
But careful planning, hard work and preparation require patience, which most in this “get it now” generation do not have. Why else would so many frustrated people suddenly realize, after years of unhappiness, that they are in a job they hate, a marriage they want to get out of, and a life they do not enjoy? Most do not count the cost before making life’s most critical decisions.
4) Learn to be humble like God. We have seen how the God of this universe actually wants you to be happy, healthy and prosperous (Matthew 6:33; John 10:10; 3 John 2). If that is true, then we should want this all-powerful Being on our side! Notice how we can do that: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). In Isaiah 57:15, God says He dwells “with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”
To listen to and heed the wise counsel of older, wiser individuals takes much humility. Adhering to and diligently obeying God’s laws concerning success in business and family requires even greater humility. One of the fundamental problems with modern education is vanity. Humility, on the other hand, will pave the way for a right, God-centered education.
5) Whatever career you pursue, strive to become an expert. Your job is a career. Your marriage is a career. Preparing for God’s Kingdom is, or at least should be, a career.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” We only have limited time during this physical life to become educated. We only have a brief amount of time on Earth to really learn to work hard in our profession. Simplify your life enough so you can devote quality time and hard work toward what’s important: God, family, work, the community, an educational hobby. And then, whatever you do, work hard! God expects excellence from His children. He gave us minds for that purpose: to be developed and trained to operate effectively and efficiently.
We should all have at least one skill that we are striving to become an expert at—something that is our own specialty. Become an authority on that subject. Give it your own special and unique brand or twist. Give your best at what you do and you will live a happy, prosperous, healthy, successful, secure and abundant life.
6) Continually add new and exciting challenges to your life. Always observe, think and learn. Seek a better, more productive way of doing things. You have the mind to do it. That is what makes life interesting. It’s what stimulates personal growth. Unless we try to go beyond what we have already mastered, we will never grow. A life full of obstacles and challenges is a blessing. Don’t fall for the life of ease and relaxation that so many desire. Happiness comes from working hard at what you do and doing it well.
7) Realize that true education never stops. “School” is not a four-year institution. It’s a lifelong project. Focus on developing the whole person. Never stop in your studies of great men and women. Always seek counsel before making big decisions. Continue to develop communication and social skills. Build new friendships. Look for and take advantage of new opportunities to serve. Acquire educational hobbies. Seize every opportunity to travel. Take part in an enjoyable sport. Get regular exercise.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “When a man decides he already has achieved success, and retires—quits—he never lives long. I expect to stay in harness as long as I live” (Autobiography, vol. 1). In fact, during the last year of his life, at the age of 93, he wrote his most powerful and effective book, Mystery of the Ages.
Education, as we have seen, is a way of life. It’s learning how to live, not just how to make a living. Education is building character. It’s doing what is right, not what is pleasurable, or what you feel like doing.
Notice Luke 18:28: “Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.” It does require much sacrifice to follow God. But notice what Christ promises to those who do: “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (verses 29-30). We’ll receive much more even now! Seek first the Kingdom, and “all these things” will be added (Matthew 6:33). This is a promise. There is a definite correlation between physical and spiritual prosperity.
God wants you to lead a happy, successful, exciting life. But most do not, because they refuse to do what God asks in order to receive such blessings. Begin now by submitting to God in all humility. Then seek His Kingdom with all of your might. Beyond that, if you make God the center of your life in every goal you have, prepare for a life of happiness and abundant blessings. God’s laws work. See for yourself. Put it to the test. If you do, what an education life will be!
Take the Bible at Its Word
Do you know one of the biggest mistakes people of religion make? They assume the Bible was written merely to inform the mind when in fact God wrote it to change your mind! Only a fraction of mankind even bothers to read the Bible, let alone apply the words of the world’s best seller. True education is nothing if not the persistent and determined training of the mind to think, act and reason like the mind of God.
David wrote, “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psalms 119:16). He didn’t forget because of what he wrote in verse 15: “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” David read, studied and then meditated, or thought about what he read several times over!
Continue from this inspiring psalm: “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (verses 97-99). David completed his studies later as he meditated on them.
When asked how he discovered the law of gravitation, Isaac Newton responded, “By thinking about it all the time.” Just think about how the course of history was altered when a great thinker like Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill came along. Those were men with vision.
Jesus Christ was the greatest thinker who ever lived. Yet most do not try to emulate His way of thinking because it’s just not “practical” in this modern age. That’s nonsense! The Bible is a practical book revealing principles that, if applied, would bring about rock-solid, positive results.
Practice these principles. Take the Bible at its word. Most people, even in religion, do not believe the Bible. Otherwise, there would not be so much religious deception and division in this world. Believe the Bible, not men. Think on these things. Then, if you apply them, prepare to become educated. And as you develop in that education, you will find yourself taking on the very nature and character of God Himself.
Chapter 3: Education With Vision
When we started a small liberal arts college in 2001, it certainly wasn’t because the world needs another educational institution. We established Herbert W. Armstrong College (ac) because of what is missing at all other schools.
Like Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong, Herbert W. Armstrong College is totally unique in the field of education. (Ambassador College, by the way, closed in 1997—11 years after Mr. Armstrong died. Its administrators rejected much of what Mr. Armstrong taught.) The Bible is the foundation of all knowledge disseminated at ac.
But since the Bible does not contain all knowledge, neither should one be educated in the Bible alone. Therefore, AC is not a Bible college. God is balanced (Philippians 4:5). He expected Adam and Eve 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 Herbert W. Armstrong College 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 AC’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, it pointed out how core requirements for b.a. degrees have changed over the years. Stephen Bertman, in Cultural Amnesia, 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.”
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.
Another more recent study found that among 25 prominent liberal arts colleges, only five required English majors to read Shakespeare.
This dramatic change in college curriculums, 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, if it is honest, has its rightful place in liberal 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 creation is worshiped, not the Creator (Romans 1:25).
A third reason for the shift might be attributed to 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 misogynist.
These reasons, and many others no doubt, have prompted higher education to abandon the traditional core requirements of the liberal arts. These days, it’s difficult for a liberal arts college to even survive.
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 is the sole cause of increasing evil. But 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,” explains why liberal education is more important than vocational training. In a 1962 essay titled “Liberal Schooling in the Twentieth 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 nature—remains the same. Everything else in our 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 today as it was in centuries past, then liberal schooling is just as valuable today as ever before.
Modern educators, however, are under the mistaken impression that human nature is constantly getting better. Because they, whether 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 already in place to redeem this world from sin should Adam reject 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 (Deuteronomy 5:29). A thousand years later, after building a magnificent temple, Solomon admonished the Israelites to pray toward this place, that every man might know the plague of his own heart (1 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 (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus Christ, in the first century a.d., said that evil thoughts proceed out of man’s heart (Matthew 15:19). Thirty years after Christ’s ministry, the Apostle Paul told the Romans that the carnal mind was naturally hostile to God (Romans 8:7).
From beginning to end, spanning thousands of years of history, the Bible speaks of human nature as being the same. In fact, because of Satan’s increasing wrath, and because of the knowledge explosion, God prophesied that man’s already evil nature would actually degenerate further in this end time—go from bad to worse! (2 Timothy 3:1, 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 (Revelation 12:9). It’s gotten so bad that, just as in the days of Babel, God will have to intervene.
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 descendents; 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.” Truth, as it’s used in this verse, is just another word for revelation. Hosea said that in this end time, there would be no revelation from God!
Verses 2 and 3 discuss the burdensome weight of rampant sin and evil that is breaking 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 ….” 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’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says it can also mean “to make or do much,” “to produce much” and “to make great.” God actually 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 Matthew 24:21-22). Just like 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 reestablish godly revelation to its rightful place as 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 2:2-3 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 (Isaiah 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 (Isaiah 52:7-8).
Everyone will be educated in the liberal arts! Everyone will be taught how to live before they pursue vocational training, before they settle into a career, before they get married, before they raise children. Everyone 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 schooled in the liberal arts, their real education will begin. They can apply that all-important knowledge in every aspect of life.
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.
Herbert W. Armstrong College is but 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.
Herbert W. Armstrong College’s uniqueness is best summed up by the school motto: “education with vision.”