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Is “Higher Education” for You?

Posted By on March 3, 2014

By Teri Ong

As the cost of going to college continues to go up nationwide at a rate of 5 to 15% per year, more people– especially parents– are questioning the value of spending four years and many thousand dollars to get a degree from an institution of “higher education.” For Christian parents, the question is– or at least should be– more complicated than merely where they can get the most “bang for the buck.” Christian parents are often times not just paying large amounts of money for their children to be enabled to earn large amounts of money; too often they are paying large amounts of money to shipwreck the faith of their children. We shouldn’t even have to say it: this is a bad investment with eternal ramifications.

frostytree        Some students may have a calling to a particular professional field. Often, such fields require specialized training which leads to certification and licensing. We understand this reality. We have one child who studied law enforcement and another who studied emergency medicine. Lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, etc., need specialized technical training to do their jobs. For many in this generation, “higher education” is just a way to talk about job preparation. In the current economic market in our country, however, the sign over the university financial office should read “The buck stops here.”

But historically, “higher education” was about more than job skills. It was about getting the big picture of one’s place in life. It was about working with “colleagues” to “see the world whole.” The men of the Reformation envisioned higher education as a time for Christian colleagues to fellowship around the Word of God to see the world whole as God sees it, and to apply the Scriptures to universal needs of mankind for the glory of God. This is true “higher” education. All Biblical Christians need this kind of “higher” education. In fact, God requires it. (2 Tim 2:14-16)

Students cannot get this “higher” perspective on life by studying with teachers who have no capacity to see or understand the “unseen,” eternal, spiritual dimension of life. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14) Studying with a philosophy teacher or a psychology teacher or a humanities teacher who has no ability to accept the things of the Spirit, is not a good strategy for seeing the world whole as God sees it.

It is very easy for Christians to get caught up in worldly thinking when it comes to preparing children to make money. If this was not a pervasive tendency, why would the Bible have so many warnings about being sidetracked with “mammon”?  We need to strive against worldly-mindedness, not give in at every turn. How can we think we will be more fit servants of God in this world if we have done all of our training at the feet of fools? (Psa. 14:1)

Instead of looking for wealth and prestige in our educational choices, we should be considering what God would call “higher” education. Read prayerfully the following passages:

Hear my cry, O God;  Give heed to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. Psalm 61:1-3

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:8-9

15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘ He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.  John 1:15-18

Higher education of the Biblical type must focus on God as revealed in His Word. Any other kind will either be mundane (in its dictionary sense), or debased (the opposite of higher).

In his great apologetic novel, Thomas Wingfold, Curate, George MacDonald captured the nature of spiritually higher education in the character of Mr. Polwarth, a crippled gatekeeper with great Biblical wisdom. One society lady of high rank cannot grasp what Wingfold means when he says of Polwarth,Tree

“He’s a man of education, as you see,” pointed out the curate.

“You don’t mean he’s been to Oxford or Cambridge?”

            “No, his education has been of a much higher sort than is generally found there. He knows ten times as much as most university men.”

            “Ah, yes; but that means nothing, he hasn’t the standing… Nothing but a gatekeeper,” she went on, “… A gatekeeper indeed!”

            “Wasn’t it something like that that King David wanted to be?” reminded the curate.

At Chambers College, we can think of nothing better than raising up a generation of those who think of themselves as “doorkeepers in the house of the Lord,” who have the spiritual perspective and skills to usher many into that glorious House. May the education we offer here always be of the “much higher sort.”

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psa. 84:10


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