religion, christianity, articles
Firm Foundation Logo

School Daze

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

religion, articles, christianity
I am sure no new theology can really be theology, whatever its novelty, unless it express and develop the old faith which made those theologies that are now old the mightiest things of the age when they were new (Peter Taylor Forsyth, Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind).

The old, the proven, and the tried is always the most reliable. "There is nothing new under the sun" is true, unless we speak of an act of God. The sentiment, of course, does not refer to such trivial things as the industrial revolution or laser angioplasty, but describes the unchangeableness of truth. Humans may discover different applications of fundamental rules, but the basic rule does not change.

It is weird, almost nightmarish, to notice how swarms of people blessed with a high intelligence quotient fang themselves to be wiser than God and sail off into mystical nonsense. If generous mental endowment was always channeled into a more perfect understanding of the rudiments of common sense, reality, and the fundamentals of faith the world would be relieved of a great deal of intellectual stupidity. Intellect and emotion are at opposite ends of the spectrum of reason. When intellect is confused with emotion the result is always disaster. One does not feel with his mind. A dinner party can be ruined by childish shenanigans.

It is not unusual for smart people to say dumb things, but when it happens it is the more remarkable. Still, it is fairly ordinary. The intellectually gifted are like sheep and one capable man follows another. Have you noticed how often quasi­scholars quote one another? If one fashionable person comes up with a stunned notion, it is not long until many smart people are sucking at the delusion and are equally dazed or senseless.

Hannah Arendt said, "The ceaseless, senseless demand for original scholarship in a number of fields, where only erudition is now possible, has led either to sheer irrelevancy, the famous knowing of more and more about less and less, or to the development of a pseudo­scholarship which actually destroys its object."

People often become scholars, it has been said, for the same reason they become soldiers: They are unfit for any other station.

The excessively smart among us - unfit for any other station - become professors. They are proud of it. They sit like hood ornaments on expensive cars. It is their calling to produce the different and the irrelevant. In the process, like any good cockroach, they mess up more than they eat, but like any good prostitute, they work both sides of the street. Their philistinism is inexcusable, but it is cute - also dangerous.

Joel Belz, editor of World Magazine (May 17/24, 1997) discusses higher academia. The subtitle of his article is, "Trying to identify the magnetic tug is always in one direction." Belz says "any institution, no matter how rooted in orthodoxy, will sooner or later slip away from its anchors. Why?"

History shows Belz to be right. God­fearing people who were seeking to better educate men to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ started most institutions of higher learning in America. The overwhelming majority of the schools so initiated have rolled onward and downward into seedbeds of atheism. The devil knows how to do his work. We must not be ignorant of his devices or he will gain an advantage over us (2 Cor. 2:11).

The "Christian Church" founded Antioch College, Ohio. It was captured by the Unitarians and corrupted. Harvard University was started by the Congregationalists as a source for an educated ministry and has degenerated into moral and spiritual abyss. The Divinity House was opened as a department of Chicago University to better train preachers of the word. Today it is swallowed up by godless humanism. Andover was looted and raped by intellectuals who had lost their innocence. Texas Christian University and Bethany College and College of the Bible are examples of schools started by "our" brethren that have become a hodgepodge of infidelity and secularism.

God pities us if we cannot learn from history. The schools operated by our brothers (though not church­schools) are on the fast track to faithlessness and outright godlessness. Hands held high and swaying to the beat of contemporary music must not deceive us into thinking that all is well. A pretend­spirituality is a sham for disguising real apostasy. Overly emotional displays soon degenerate into sitting down to eat and drink and rising up to play. It is not impossible for people blinded by the glory of Sinai to shortly make a golden calf-and worship it. The schools are sinking and the church is oblivious and our children and their children after them will pay the price.

Specifically, the schools of which I speak are Pepperdine University fully given to worldly pursuits. Abilene Christian University the front runner of Bible­bashing. (One coveted professor saying the mother of Jesus was sexually questionable; another saying the Bible is not inspired in its words and therefore has in it mistakes in history, geography, and science, and still others endorsing the doublespeak of deconstructionism.) All of this is calculated to capture the youth and lead them at last into the never­never land of doubt and disbelief. Still other schools are hiking down the road that leads to intellectual snobbery and denial of the things revealed in Holy Writ. David Lipscomb University under the leadership of Harold Hazelip, has plunged into the bottomless pit of not­knowing and not­caring. Harding University and Oklahoma Christian University are hard on the heels of ACU and DLU. Other, less known schools. are in the "me­too" mode and have made them selves irrelevant and useless. One or two still give out the aroma of trying to hold to the ancient landmarks but do so timidly.

Schools are leading the church into apostasy, and many local congregations don't care. Graduates of the schools, who have been trained in the art of spiritual sophistry, are urging the disciples of Jesus to become students of humanistic philosophy. The end result will be absorption into the mainstream of mediocrity-and I don't mean smallness but I do mean inferiority.

Belz, in his well­worth­the­reading article says Dr. Daylen Byker of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., in a seminar at the annual convention of the Evangelical Press Association, traced the painfully familiar pattern. He called it a classic example of the principle of unintended consequences, saying that what starts as a gradual process too often becomes "a mad rush."

Most institutions of higher learning in North America, Dr. Byker said, "got their start as centers of training for ministers.... To produce well­rounded ministers schools began adding teachers in subject areas-areas that soon became important in and of themselves. Securing faculty for such programs became the competitive, and natural questions arose, like: Is it really important that a math professor hold to this school's theological position?"

Such questions would never have come up if the main decision-makers at these institutions had taken more seriously the need to integrate biblical truth with the supposedly secular subjects their institutions offered. Instead, administrators were content to relegate such subjects to experts who professed fewer and fewer of the doctrinal distinctives of the school.

Universities wanting to put the brakes on a drift toward liberalism need to look at the position of the school on the doctrine of Scripture. The burning question is the day­to­day practice of its faculty, administration, and board with reference to the authority of the Bible. Belz says, "[E]very other kind of heterodoxy starts with reference to the authority of the Bible; every other kind of mischief finds its root in a mischievous hermeneutic of the Bible." He is right!

That is why the church must put a renewed emphasis for the highest confidence in the Bible's authority ­ and on preserving a Bible so faithful in its text and translation that such confidence is never betrayed.

Joel Belz raises the warning:

It starts off, not in the Bible courses, but in academic departments that superficially seem most distantly removed from Biblical truth and values. Yet that's precisely the trap. If the Bible's authority is diminished on scientific issues like creation, who can ultimately be surprised when its historic authority is also weakened on practical issues like feminism, or moral issues like homosexuality?

The leading members of academia brought the church into denial of God and rejection of his Word in the last century. It will happen again in this century. It will come in the form of rejecting the scriptures as legal and binding. It will appear in the dress of finding a gracious God as unable to judge and condemn. (A good God cannot send the sons of Satan into the pits of hell!) It will appear in a claim to receive "new" revelation that circumvents and contradicts old, established truth. It will be the new hermeneutic, religion, method, and understanding that undercuts and denies the faith. It will be exciting and titillating, but it will be wrong.

Published July 1997