Back to School

by John M. Frame

 [Pastor’s Column: Life at New Life]

This back-to-school month is a good time to remind ourselves that the Lord Jesus cares very much about how we think and how we learn. It’s a good time to read I Cor. 1 and 2, about how God makes foolish the wisdom of the world. Those who seem the most brilliant in this world often have no time for God, no interest in him; but God has the last word! So God calls us to follow his wisdom, set forth in Scripture (2:13) even though it may seem foolish to our teachers (see Psm. 119:99). Read also II Cor. l0:4 and 5, which calls us to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Also the many passages in Proverbs which speak of learninggoverned by the fear of the Lord: 1:7-9, 2:4-6, 4:10-13, 8:10-11, 8:33, 9:9, 10:17, 15:14, 18:15, 21:11, 23:12, 23:23, 27:17, 29:19.

Remember especially that Jesus wants us to learn of him and of the new life he brings (Matt. 11:28ff), since in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (I Cor. 1:30, Col. 2:3). Jesus died and rose again, not only to save us from our idolatry, hatred, murder, stealing, etc., but also to save us from foolishness– the sins of  the mind by which we try to make our other sins look good. So he brings  profound changes, not only in our outward behavior, but in our thought life as well.

Jesus simply will not be left out of our education! We cannot claim that Jesus is Lord if we merely worship him on Sunday, refusing to honor him in the rest of life, including education. To so many people, Jesus is a good religious and ethical teacher, but in matters of scholarship, they think, it is better to follow the currents of modern thought, from Harvard to Psychology Today. Often students raised in Christian homes, claiming to love Christ, will go off to college and seminary and develop all sorts of doubts about Jesus’ deity, his miracles and resurrection, for instance. Why? Because some professor presents modern skepticism in an attractive way, and the student thinks he can love Jesus with his heart while trusting his unbelieving professor in matters of the mind. But no; Jesus is far more than a “religious” teacher in the diluted modern sense of the term. He is Lord of all, nothing less. Therefore, he calls us to seek out his wisdom about history, biology, politics, economics, philosophy.

Is Jesus, then, an intellectual authoritarian? Yes, I’m afraid so! But he is also the source of the most glorious intellectual freedom! He sets us free from the academic fashions to contemplate a whole new, fresh, different vision of the world. God has revealed to us some wonderful things, which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has mind conceived” (I Cor. 2:9). These wonderful things have been hidden from the fashionable scholars of this world (I Cor. 1:21) and from the nobility (I Cor. 2:8), but have been revealed to those who hear God’s word with humility (2:10-16). So knowing Christ, serving him, brings us a great fund of special knowledge. Beyond that, it sets us free from the seemingly invincible authority of human learning. We don’t have to accept everything we hear from Yale or Time magazine. God reminds us that the “experts” are often wrong, often dismally so. Bondage to Christ means freedom from the tyranny of human experts, freedom to ask the hard questions, freedom for a rich blossoming of human creativity. Truly, in school as in all of life, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” John 8:36.


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