Fundamentals of Christian Education


Chapter 37—To the Students at Battle Creek College

I have a very deep interest in the educational institution at Battle Creek. For years my husband and myself were greatly exercised in reference to establishing a school in which our youth and children should have advantages of a superior character to those found in the common public schools, or in the colleges of the world. The Lord plainly specified what should be the character of the influence and instruction the school should maintain, in order that the important work might be accomplished for which the school was designed. As the knowledge and fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it was necessary that the study of the Bible should have a prominent place among the various branches of scientific education. The standard of the school was to be of high order, and the principles of vital godliness were ever to be kept before the students as a most essential feature of education. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” The youth were to be instructed in regard to the times in which we live, and to be made to understand that which will come to pass before the closing up of the world's history. FE 285.1

One reason why it was necessary to establish institutions of our own was the fact that parents were not able to counteract the influence of the teaching their children were receiving in the public schools, and the error there taught was leading the youth into false paths. No stronger influence could be brought to bear upon the minds of the youth and children than that of those who were educating them in principles of science. For this reason it was evident that schools must be established in which our children should be instructed in the way of truth. In our schools it was specified that the youth were to be taught in the principles of Bible temperance, and every influence was to be brought to bear upon them that would tend to help them to shun the follies of this degenerate age, which were fast making the world as a second Sodom. FE 285.2

In our institutions of learning there was to be exerted an influence that would counteract the influence of the world, and give no encouragement to indulgence in appetite, in selfish gratification of the senses, in pride, ambition, love of dress and display, love of praise and flattery, and strife for high rewards and honors as a recompense for good scholarship. All this was to be discouraged in our schools. It would be impossible to avoid these things, and yet send them to the public schools, where they would daily be brought in contact with that which would contaminate their morals. All through the world there was so great a neglect of proper home training that the children found at the public schools, for the most part, were profligate, and steeped in vice. FE 286.1

The work that we as a people were to do in this matter, was to establish a school, and do the work that Jesus Christ, from the pillar of cloud, had directed as the work of His people,—to train and educate our children and youth to regard the commandments of God. The manifest disregard of the world for the law of God was contaminating the morals of those who professed to be keeping the law of God. But we are called upon to follow the example of Abraham. Of him the Lord has said, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” FE 286.2

Abraham had to leave his country and his father's house, and sojourn in a strange land, in order to introduce successfully the new order of things in his household. The providence of God was ever to open up new methods, and progress was to be made from generation to generation, in order to preserve in the world a knowledge of the true God, of His laws and commandments. This could be done only by cultivating home religion. But it was not possible for Abraham to do this while he was surrounded by his idolatrous kinsfolk and friends. He must at God's command go out alone, and listen to the voice of Christ, the leader of the children of Israel. Jesus was on the earth to instruct and educate the chosen people of God. Abraham decided to obey the law of God, and the Lord knew that there would be no betrayal of sacred trust on his part, no yielding to any other guide than Him whom he felt under responsibility to obey. He recognized that he was accountable for the instruction of his household and his children, and commanded them after him to do justice and judgment. In teaching them the laws of God, he taught them that the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver and king, and that parents and children were to be ruled by Him; that on the part of parents there was to be no oppression, and on the part of children no unfilial disobedience. FE 286.3

The Lord commanded Moses to go and speak unto Pharaoh, bidding him to allow Israel to leave Egypt. For four hundred years they had been in Egypt, and had been in slavery to the Egyptians. They had been corrupted by idolatry, and the time came when God called them forth from Egypt, in order that they might obey His laws and keep His Sabbath, which He had instituted in Eden. He spoke the ten commandments to them in awful grandeur from Mount Sinai, that they might understand the sacred and enduring character of the law, and build up the foundation of many generations, by teaching their children the binding claims of God's holy precepts. FE 287.1

This is the work that we are called upon to do. From the pulpits of the popular churches it is proclaimed that the first day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord; but God has given us light, showing us that the fourth precept of the decalogue is as verily binding as are the other nine moral precepts. It is our work to make plain to our children that the first day of the week is not the true Sabbath, and that its observance after light has come to us as to what is the true Sabbath, is idolatry, and in plain contradiction to the law of God. In order to give them instruction in regard to the claims of the law of Jehovah, it is necessary that we separate our children from worldly associations and influences, and keep before them the Scriptures of truth, by educating them line upon line, and precept upon precept, that they may not prove disloyal to God. FE 287.2

The Protestants have accepted the spurious Sabbath, the child of the papacy, and have exalted it above God's holy, sanctified day; and our institutions of learning have been established for the express purpose of counteracting the influence of those who do not follow the word of God. These are sufficient reasons to show the necessity of having educational institutions of our own; for we must teach truth rather than fiction and falsehood. The school is to supplement the home training, and both at home and at school, simplicity of dress, diet, and amusement must be maintained. An atmosphere must be created that will not be deleterious to the moral nature. Line upon line, precept upon precept, our children and households must be educated to keep the way of the Lord, to stand firmly for truth and righteousness. We must maintain a position against every species of sophistry that bewilders in this degenerate age, when error is glossed over, and so mingled with truth that it is almost impossible for those who are not familiar with the distinctions that the Scriptures make between the traditions of men and the word of God, to distinguish truth from error. It has been plainly stated that in this age “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” FE 288.1

As the truth is brought into practical life, the standard is to be elevated higher and higher, to meet the requirements of the Bible. This will necessitate opposition to the fashions, customs, practices, and maxims of the world. Worldly influences, like the waves of the sea, beat against the followers of Christ to sweep them away from the true principles of the meekness and grace of Christ; but they are to stand as firm as a rock to principle. It will require moral courage to do this, and those whose souls are not riveted to the eternal Rock, will be swept away by the worldly current. We can stand firm only as our life is hid with Christ in God. Moral independence will be wholly in place when opposing the world. By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground, and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world's standard; but we are to make the line of demarcation decidedly apparent. FE 288.2

There are many in the church who at heart belong to the world, but God calls upon those who claim to believe the advanced truth, to rise above the present attitude of the popular churches of today. Where is the self-denial, where is the cross-bearing that Christ has said should characterize His followers? The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world. Parents need to awake, and purify their souls by practicing the truth in their home life. When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists. “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” FE 289.1

We are under solemn, sacred covenant to God to bring up our children, not for the world, not to put their hands into the hands of the world, but to love and fear God, and to keep His commandments. We are to instruct them to work intelligently in Christ's lines, to present a noble, elevated Christian character to those with whom they associate. For this reason our schools have been established, that youth and children may be so educated as to exert an influence for God in the world. Then shall our schools become converted to the world, and follow its customs and fashions? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” FE 289.2

When those who have reached the years of youth and manhood see no difference between our schools and the colleges of the world, and have no preference as to which they attend, though error is taught by precept and example in the schools of the world, then there is need of closely examining the reasons that lead to such a conclusion. Our institutions of learning may swing into worldly conformity. Step by step they may advance to the world; but they are prisoners of hope, and God will correct and enlighten them, and bring them back to their upright position of distinction from the world. I am watching with intense interest, hoping to see our schools thoroughly imbued with the spirit of true and undefiled religion. When the students are thus imbued, they will see that there is a great work to be done in the lines in which Christ worked, and the time they have given to amusements will be given up to doing earnest missionary work. They will endeavor to do good to all about them, to lift up souls that are bowed down in discouragement, and to enlighten those who are in the darkness of error. They will put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.—The Review and Herald, January 9, 1894. FE 290.1