The Old Testament Biblical concept of education can and should be the church’s gift to a declining Western culture. Instead of merely mimicking our post-modern, post-Christian culture, we must reform according to the Word of God and once again focus on the concept of Wisdom. Consider this assessment of James Crenshaw on the education of ancient Hebrews.
“A fool is one that is morally corrupt rather than intellectually deficient underlies this distinction between knowledge and wisdom. A person could be both knowledgeable and foolish, but no one could be wise and foolish too. Wisdom consists of judicious use of information to enrich life. The mere gathering of information, however valuable, did not make a person wise, for the truly learned individual gave the teachings flesh and blood. Controlling the passions—anger, lust, envy, appetite—and mastering the tongue—avoiding gossip and slander, learning eloquence and timing—demanding far more discipline than merely accumulating facts and storing them in the brain.” (p.152) Crenshaw, James L. Education in Ancient Israel: Across the Deadening Silence. New York: Doubleday. 1998.
Why should we be surprised by the corruption on Wall Street, corporate headquarters, and our political leaders? Each passing day brings deeper revelations of corruption, greed and moral depravity. We should not be surprised, but rather outraged. Our culture and our educational systems have created technically proficient professionals, who are “men without chests” as C.S. Lewis puts it. Why should we expect them to act virtuous, when they are rewarded so bountifully for greed and corrupt practices? They are knowledgeable, but foolish.
The unfortunate aspect of all this, is that our post-modern churches are working hard, not to reform and bring virtue and wisdom, but rather to mimick a culture of corruption. We apply business theories of pragmatism and efficiency looking for results of numerical growth and more money, all for the excuse of the glory of God. Who is truly being glorified? We market the church, sell the gospel, and advertise the smiling faces of our pastors. Who is being glorified? We sacrifice truth and biblical virtue at the altar relevancy, mimicking political correctness. Who is being glorified?
Where is the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of this? Is the gospel a mere commodity to sell, competing with all other philosopies of the day?
It is time to reconsider Biblical truth, wisdom and contentment over the modern “christianized” hype of wealth, professionalism and foundationless “happiness”. Wisdom, based in Biblical truth, united with virtue and objective beauty can be the church’s gift to a dying culture once again.
As I am working on a paper and beginning the process of a dissertation, a particular quote keeps coming to mind from C.S. Lewis’ The Abolotion of Man:
“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” (p.35)
I have come to believe that much of our Christian education has become entertainment, which comes from a pragmatic philosophy of education. We must consider if we are gifting our young people with a love for wisdom, the Gospel, God’s Word and learning. Or are we simply amusing them to death? Are we making “men without chests”?
This is a sermon I preached a short while back on the authority of Jesus.
Please read Mark 11:20-33 before listening to the sermon and have it at your fingertips during the sermon.
Here is an audio sermon I recently preached on the sovereignty of God.
How do we measure discipleship? We can measure attendance and dollars and therefore they become the driving force behind our decisions in the church, just like in the business world if we are not careful. While exercising in the gym the other day, I read an advertisement for measuring body fat, saying what you measure you can change. This is very pragmatic and modern. But how do we measure spiritual growth and maturity? How do we really measure whether our congregations are being successful?
“It is one of the remarkable features of contemporary church life that so many are attempting to heal the church by tinkering with its structures, its services, and its public face. This is clear evidence that modernity has successfully palmed of one of its great deceits on us, convincing us that God himself is secondary to organization and image, that the church’s health lies in its flow charts, its convenience, and its offerings rather than in its inner life, its spiritual authenticity, the toughness of its moral intentions, its understanding of what it means to have God’s Word in this world. Those who do not see this are out of touch with the deep realities of life, mistaking changes on the surface for changes in the deep waters that flow beneath. An inspired group of marketers might find a way of reviving a flagging business by modifying its image and offerings, but the matters of the heart, the matters of God, are not susceptible to such cosmetic alteration. The world’s business and God’s business are two different things. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music, and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to stanch the flow of blood that is spilling from its true wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common. “ Wells, David F. God in the Wasteland, p. 30