And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. … He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom. 1 Kings 4:29-30, 33-34
Public education in the United States has become a mostly godless enterprise. Unfortunately, the more “elite” an academic institution is, the more pride it takes in a secular approach to learning. Modern educators falsely presume that the best path to knowledge is one that is without bias of religion. However, in their pursuit of untainted learning, they keep themselves from the beginning of wisdom – the fear of the Lord.
This humanistic approach to learning was not always or usually the case in our country. Many of our nation’s founding fathers affirmed the vital importance of education and the role of Christianity alongside it. Benjamin Rush captured the sentiment of many early Americans in this quote: “[T]he only means of establishing and perpetuating our forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”
Our nation’s first higher educational institutions were established specifically for the purpose of educating American youth in the ways of God. Our early leaders knew that wisdom and knowledge were discovered in Jesus Christ Himself (Colossians 2:2-3).
Even into the 20th century, national officials regarded the Bible as the preeminent source of knowledge. Our twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, quipped, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” Roosevelt was an alumnus of both Harvard and Columbia in a day when a very small percentage of the population obtained a college degree.
Spiritual knowledge and academic knowledge are not obtained separately – one in pursuit of God and one apart from Him. All truth is God’s truth. All learning and knowledge comes from Him.
King Solomon was blessed with a special divine gifting of wisdom. Solomon’s wisdom was evident in all areas of life and learning. He was a master in botany and zoology, leadership and organizational management, sociology and psychology. Solomon’s wisdom was an incredible gift to God’s people and a source of praise to Solomon’s God.
As we fast and pray for transformation in our educational system, let’s pray for a return of the fear of God. That may seem hard to imagine in today’s cultural environment, but God has brought about this kind of dramatic change in the past. An episode from the history of Princeton University provides a perfect example.
In the 1790s American colleges were overrun by French liberalism and lawlessness and immorality of all kinds. The once Christian-founded institutions were a shadow of their former glory. Christianity was suffering such decline that only two students in the Princeton student body professed to being followers of Christ. However, in 1815 Princeton President Ashbel Green mandated all students to memorize and recite five chapters of the Bible per week in addition to their regular studies and other Christian activities. As students began consuming God’s words, many hearts were melted and almost half of the student body was drawn to the fount of wisdom.
Let’s pray for a similar revolution in our educational approach in America:
- Pray for God to raise up courageous Christian leaders like Ashbel Green in our school boards and administrative positions;
- Pray for these courageous Christian leaders in primary, secondary, and higher education schools;
- Pray for a paradigm shift that welcomes the input of the Bible and God in education.
Dr. Chuck Hetzler
Senior Associate, Christian Union Day and Night
Selected Resources to Explore for a Cultural Revolution in Education
ARTICLE (33 pages): “I Believe in Nature: An Exploration of Naturalism and the Biblical Worldview” by Kirsten Birkett
Birkett challenges the widely held belief that natural forces and laws are the only means by which human existence and the universe itself can be understood. Appealing to the Bible’s own response to such notions, Birkett shows the limitations of materialistic constructions and formulates an integrated framework of faith and science in its place.
BOOK (180 pages) The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers
Sayers observed that although we often succeed in teaching our pupil’s subjects, we fail in teaching them how to think - that they learn everything but the art of thinking. She recognized that a culture’s disinterest in learning had profound implications. In this short book (often combined with another short book, The Mind of the Maker) Sayers argues for a return to developing a “passionate intellect” in ourselves and our children.
BOOK (384 pages): Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach by Vern Poythress
This book attempts to kindle our appreciation for science as it ought to be - science that could serve as a path for praising God and serving fellow human beings. Through examining the wonderfully complex and immutable laws of nature, author Vern Poythress explains, we ought to recognize the wisdom, care, and beauty of God.