Sometimes brethren returning from special study under godless teachers in the universities of the world are perplexed over the indifferent reception accorded the choice titbits of specialized knowledge they have retrieved and now seek to inject into their work. Sometimes they feel there is lack of understanding and appreciation for their new treasures of learning. And in instances they even complain of coolness or suspicion on the part of their ministerial brethren.
Perhaps a friendly word may help to clarify the problem, which is really quite simple: That which does not minister directly to and upbuild this message is not destined to arouse much enthusiasm in our ministerial ranks. For example, much historical research lauded by the world is not even remotely connected with the unveiling and illumination of the conflict between the true church and the false through the centuries, and sheds no particular light on the divine philosophy of history involved in our interpretation of prophecy. It is this detachment that removes it from the center of our interests. We have a specific message to give the world, and we need and want that which will help us better to understand and present that message.
Much that is proffered by the universities in the field of Biblical languages usually has no vital relation to, nor practical utility in, the task of pastors, evangelists, and Bible instructors in their specific work of winning and up-building souls through God's special message for today. Likewise, much in the realm of science has nought to do with the stalwart defense of creationism as against evolutionism, which is one of our major tasks as a movement, under the mandate of the third angel's message.
Scholarly contributions to knowledge must, in order to appeal to the ministry of the advent movement at large, be cast in the distinctive mold of this message and be integrally tied to its concepts and objectives. They must have definite and constructive relationship thereto. They must offer practical utility in the up-building, defense, and promulgation of our cause. The wisdom of the world and its universities is for the most part rationalistic, or at least modernistic, in tone. Even if taught by professedly Christian teachers, these scholars of the world are usually unaware of, and not infrequently antagonistic to, the distinctive principles and involvements of Adventism. Yet their methods, emphases, and conclusions are not infrequently reflected by Adventist students coming forth from their classes.
Such university guidance neither matches our needs nor aids our interests. Such worldly contributions may be brilliant, and from that viewpoint technically true, and yet be of little worth to our movement. Usually they are purely objective in treatment, and tentative in conclusion. The counsels of such teachers are generally couched in another phraseology, having an entirely different emphasis and purpose, and are often centered on matters of little importance to us. They do not usually build faith, and not infrequently they divert attention away from 'primary essentials to matters of really trifling import. More than that, their offerings are of t-times irreconcilable with the inspired truth of Scriptures and the witness of the Spirit of prophecy. - Thus their impulse and results are often foreign to the spirit, form, and terminology of the throbbing heart of our message. That is why our workers often look askance at echoes of the world's wisdom.
We need genuine wisdom, not a show of learning. We want and we welcome constructive help, not fastidious erudition. The university spirit and objective is not the spirit and objective of this movement. Yet this type of knowledge persistently seeks entrance amongst us in the form of a neo-Adventism. Were it to gain a foothold in our ranks, it would spell ruin for this movement, as it has for all other denominations where it is ascendant. It must be resisted. It is not difficult to differentiate between true knowledge, acceptable to God, and pseudo wisdom, that is the pride of man. We welcome the true; we reject the false.
L. E. F.