God’s Affinity for the Educated Man
May 30th, 1954 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-30-54 7:30 p.m.
In the twenty-eighth chapter, the last chapter of the Book of Acts in which chapter we have come preaching through the Word of God, in the twenty-third verse it says that Paul expounded the things of the kingdom of God out of the Law of Moses. And those two, Moses and Paul, the two chief men outside of Christ, our Savior and Lord and God, Moses and Paul, the two chief men of the Bible, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament, bring to my mind the subject for this message tonight God and the Educated Man.
Religion has an affinity with a trained mind, an educated mind. One time I asked a professor at Baylor when I went to school there what he meant by the word "affinity." I had never used it before. I didn’t know what it meant, and he used it talking to us in a biology class – the word "affinity." Well, we happened to be close to a window overlooking the campus. There’s a sidewalk that runs right through the middle of the campus from one building to the other, and there was a boy and a girl who were holding hands with one another and looking at one another and, you know, going down the sidewalk. So the professor said, "Well, look out there. You see that boy and that girl? Well," he said, "they have an affinity for one another." I’ve never forgotten the meaning of the word since: "affinity."
God and a man with a trained mind has an affinity for one another. The two seem to fit. They seem to enmesh because a man ignorant and unlearned and untrained is no reason at all why he should be more acceptable to heaven.
Piety does not consist in ignorance. Piety can find its highest expression, its noblest bearing, its sublimest achievement in the educated man. Moses was learned in all of the arts and sciences of the Egyptian [Exodus 2:10, Hebrews 11:23-27]. He was a man who had gone through all of the schools of his day. He was prepared and trained for the highest work God ever gave to man up until the appearance of Jesus Christ. And it is no less so in the interpretation of the message of Jesus to the world. The Lord chose a man who was learned in the Greek language, who was brought up in the Greek university, who was taught in all of the theological casuistry of the rabbinical schools of Jerusalem [Acts 22:3, 25-28]. Your two greatest exponents of revealed religion are first Moses and then Paul, and both of them were men of the schools. They were taught and trained and educated. They were prepared for the great work God committed to their care.
You will find no exception to that. In all of the history of the development of God’s workings in the realm of religion, you’ll find it done by the trained and the educated man. That doesn’t mean we haven’t had wonderful preachers who just spring out of the dust of the ground and the soil of the earth. That doesn’t mean that we do not have capable men who proclaim a message in their own unusual style and fervor, who butcher the King’s English, who were never trained in the schools. But I say there is no exception that the great development of the Christian faith and of the revealed religion of God has it ever been wrought and furthered by the man of the school – the man trained, the learned man, the educated man. You can carry it right on through from the days of Moses, through Isaiah, through Daniel, through Paul, through Augustine, through John Wycliffe, through Savonarola, through Huss and Hubmaier, through John Wesley and George Whitefield – men of Oxford University – to the most learned mind that America has ever produced – Jonathan Edwards – and clear up to this present day.
I repeat that God has an affinity and religion has an affinity for a trained and an educated mind. When you look at the great universities of the world, up until this present time in our generation when state‑supported schools have come to the fore, up until this present generation, all of the great schools of the world were religious schools. They were schools founded by the churches, and they were schools guided by the ecclesiastical leadership of the nation and of the people. That’s true over there in Europe, in the ancient universities – Oxford, Cambridge and all the rest – and it is invariably true of the great old universities of America: Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Chicago University. All of them were founded by the religious people. They are products of the schools. Religion has an affinity with a trained and an educated mind.
You came, your school came out of the church. That’s where it was born. In 1780, Robert Raikes, who was a journalist in Manchester, England, passing down the streets in the slum sections of Manchester on the Lord’s Day, on Sunday, saw those children dirty, unkempt, unclean, untaught, vilely cursing, playing out in the streets of the city; and Robert Raikes, a journalist, began the first Sunday school. Being a journalist, he captured the imagination and the ear of the English people and finally the throne itself; and he organized Sunday Schools all over the land.
What kind of a Sunday school was it? Not what you think of when I use that word. It was a school that took those children who worked in child labor before there were any such thing as the child labor law to prohibit it. He took those children, and he taught them reading, writing and arithmetic. And of course, in that day and time, a large part of the reading matter was biblical. It was Scriptural. But the Sunday school movement did not begin at all as a church movement teaching the Bible. It started with Robert Raikes in Manchester in 1780 to gather together those children on the Lord’s Day and to teach them how to read and how to write. And, of course, I say a large part of their subject matter was religion because in teaching them how to read, they taught the Bible. They read the Bible.
As the days passed and as time went on and the movement grew all over the world, some of the people got together – and I repeat, the church had nothing to do with this to begin with. It met on Sunday because it was a day of freedom. As the development came, those people said, "On Sunday we ought to teach the Bible, religion, and during the day of the week we ought to teach reading, writing and arithmetic."
So the great movement divided; and our Sunday school movement, the teaching of the Bible, and your public school movement, the teaching of the three R’s, came out of the same source, and out of the same heart, and out of the same movement; and they belong together. The teaching of the Bible and the teaching of God and the teaching of the arts and the sciences – they all come out of the same heart and out of the same place and out of the same movement.
As time went on, they were fully separated. From Monday until Friday we study science, and literature, and the arts; and then on the Lord’s Day we gather especially to study the Word of God. But they ought never – in heart and in soul – be separated. The trained mind is a religious mind, and God, I say, has an affinity for an educated man. And we’re not full-grown until we’re taught both of them. We ought to be taught the Word of God. No man’s educated who’s ignorant of God. And we ought to be taught in our schools that we might be full grown in our citizenship, in our homes and families, and among our friends and our people.
Now that leads me to point out several things that are highly interesting to me because they affect us in our church, and in our life, and in our destiny, and in our future as a nation and a people. Education – secular education, profane education, the education of the three R’s, the education of the arts and the sciences, the education of the schools – education has a tremendous responsibility to God, and to the church, and to the family, and to the home, and to the nation, and to the people. It has a tremendous responsibility. And the first thing it ought to be, the first thing it ought to be, education ought to be honest and sincere when they teach our boys and girls the way of life and when they explain to them the mysteries of this earth and this world in which we live. And that’s where I think – that’s what I think we fall into all kinds of trouble religiously.
For example, I have young people coming to me all the time, all the time. It’s not an isolated instance. They come to me all the time, and they say to me, "Pastor, I am so confused. I’m so confused. I’m just lost. When you get up there and you say in that pulpit God made man out of the dust of the ground and He formed them out of the dust of the earth, and yet when I go to school here, my professors teach me that we all came from a green scum. We started way back yonder in the eons ago as a little algae, or a little paramecium, or a little amoeba; and then we grew up and we became a tadpole. Then we kept on growing, and we became a frog. Then we kept on growing, and we became a fish. Then we kept on growing, and we had legs and we walked out on dry land. And we kept on growing and we became a monkey, and then finally we turned into me."
Now, that’s what we’re taught. "There is no God in it," they say. "And there’s no place in it for the creative workmanship of God in the making of a man. Now, that’s what I’m taught, and you preach just something else. Now, what am I to believe, and where am I to turn?"
Well, that’s a great system. That’s a great system. Brother, it’s a knockout! It’s a humdinger, that system.
Once I was a tadpole beginning to begin,
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in.
Then I was a monkey in a banyan tree,
And now I’m a doctor with a Ph.D.
Brother, it’s a coming. It’s a coming.
I tore a leaf out of the Reader’s Digest. It’s an article by a great, learned scientist on how we are going to look. So he starts way back, way back when we were unicellular little animals and came on up, and where we are now, and then he prophesies what we’re going to evolve into. You’re not going to have any more little toes; they’re going to evolve off. You’re not going to have any more teeth; they’re going to evolve out. And you’re not going to have any more hair – not even the women – you’re going to be absolutely bald and hairless, every woman, every one of them. All of our beauty parlors are going out of business. I don’t know what all else he says. I haven’t got time for it. One of his sentences here is very interesting:
Not long before the beginning of the Ice Age, our ancestors were quadruped apes, swinging brashly through the treetops like a present‑day monkey, or gibbon, or chimpanzee. But he was an ape. He was a monkey with possibilities. Some . . .
– Now, don’t forget, this is a learned scientist now in the Reader’s Digest –
But he was a monkey with possibilities. Some inner urge impelled him to get up on his two feet and free his hands for purposes other than locomotion.
Now, when I read things like that – and brother, when you go to school, chances are you’ll be taught that up and down – when I read things like that. There was a time when I was one cell. That’s right. There was a time when I was one cell. And there was a time when I walked on all fours: I crawled around as a little baby. That’s right. But oh, my soul! The first dedication I think that education has as they teach is this: they ought to be honest and sincere. It’s a theory. It’s a man’s idea. It’s his brainchild that all of us descended from monkeys. That’s not a proven fact at all, and it is an insult to the monkey! You know that?
Three monkeys, three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they’re said to be.
Said one to the other, "Now, listen you two,
There’s a certain rumor that can’t be true,
That man descended from our noble race.
The very idea, it’s a dire disgrace.
No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved a baby and ruined their life.
And you’ve never known a mother monk
To leave her baby with others to bunk,
Or pass them on to one to another
‘Til they hardly know who is their mother.
And another thing you’ll never see,
A monk build a fence round the coconut tree
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks to taste.
Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.
Here’s another thing that a monk won’t do:
Go out at night and get on a stew,
Or use a gun or a club or a knife
To take some other monkey’s life.
Yes, man descended the ornery cuss,
But brother, he didn’t descend from us.
["The Monkey’s Disgrace" by Nettie Bates Thomas]
What that professor ought to say is this: he ought to say, "I believe my ancestors were monkeys." He ought not to say all of our ancestors are monkeys. If he wants to think that, that’s all right; and if he wants to say that, that’s all right; but he ought not to teach that as a fact, as a truth. He ought to say, "That’s my idea. My great granddad was an anthropoid ape. That’s my idea."
But you and I may have a different idea about it. We believe we were created in the image of God, and until somebody can come along and prove that different, let’s stay by the Book [Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6]. Let’s stay by the Book. You see, young people, whatever is true don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be afraid of it. Just be careful to distinguish between what is a fact, what is truth, and what that man says is a fact and says is the truth for they may be two different things. He may say thus and so, but it may not be that way at all. He may teach thus and so, but it may not be that way at all. You just ask for the facts, that’s all, and stay with it and don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of anything.
Why, tell a man that’s talking about the Lord Jesus, "Sir, if you can bring by another man that’s better than the Lord Jesus, I’ll forsake the Lord Jesus and follow the better man." If he’s more of God, if he can reveal more of God, if he acted more like God, if he had more of God in him – which to me is inconceivable – but if he can bring by somebody that was more of God than the Lord Jesus, I’d forsake the Lord Jesus and follow the other man. Until he does, I’m staying with the Lord Jesus. Same way about all of the other things in life: whatever is true, let’s have it. Whatever is a fact, let’s search it out. And when finally you come to know it all, you’ll find that the great author of the world above is the great author of the world in that Book. The same Man did both of them. You’ll find that. And the older you get, and the more you grow in grace and in knowledge and in experience in this life, the more you’ll see that the things that are out there are the things that are written in here: sincerity.
Another one: humility. Young people, there’s so much you never can finally know. The other day one of these men took me out fishing. We went fishing. Got in a boat, and we rowed to a certain place in that lake; and it was as dirty and filthy. It smelled bad. It stank. It was mucky. It was miry. It was everything that nobody would like. And I want you to know, out of that muck, and out of that mire, and out of that dirt, and out of that filth, and out of that stink, I want you to know that out of that there was – on the bosom of the water – those beautiful, flat, green leaves of the lily. And right in the midst of those beautiful leaves, the most gorgeously colored pink lilies you ever saw. Where’d they come from? They came out of the dirt, and the muck, and the mire. The beautiful bouquet you have in front of you tonight, guess where it came from? Out of fertilizer that stinks, and out of dirt, and out of filth. That’s where they came from, and they won’t grow without it. How in the world are those glorious flowers in a seed and in the dirt? I don’t know. I just look at it and am humbled by it. Aren’t you?
This boy down here that married that girl, he said they have a little baby. They have a little baby girl. Where’d that little baby girl come from? How did one cell ever make two, and the two make four, and through geometrical progression, they made billions? And by and by, that precious little baby girl was laid in the bosom of that young mother. Oh, I just am humbled by it! Oh, the things that God does you never know. You’re never able to explain! You just look into the face of God and say, "May the Lord be praised and glorified." That’s all – to be humble.
Just briefly these other two things: education – godly, it’s to be inspirational. It’s to lift us up. It’s to set our feet on the rock. It’s to put a song in our heart. It’s to send us out with a great enduring assurance. And last of all, the summary of it all, it’s to be godly. No man is ever smart because he’s like Sinclair Lewis. In my day, Sinclair Lewis was the number one author of all America; and he spoke for America, and he wrote for America. He was learned by America. Sinclair Lewis one time stood up in a church pulpit in Kansas City, Missouri, and he said, "God. God. There is no such a thing or person as God. If there be a God, I defy Him to strike me dead." And he took a dramatic stance there in the pulpit defying God to strike him dead. And I remember when that happened, all by the millions all over this country, people applauded – great doings, smart doings.
Where does materialism and atheism find you, finally lead you? You’ll finally land in the country and in the culture where all the sacred values of God are taken out. And that’s what Communism is: no God, no Christ, no Bible, no church, no heaven, no hope. You are an atheistic, materialistic, Communist which is a violation of God’s Word, of your own soul, of everything we hold dear. True education is always godly. It leads to the wonderful revelations we have in Christ Jesus; and he’s not smart who stands up like Sinclair Lewis and says, "If there’s a God, I defy Him to strike me dead." He’s not smart.
He is smart who bows down in reverence before the great God of the starry sky above us and the microcosms, the nuclear world around us, and the heart and soul on the inside of us, and who says, "The Lord who made me, whose I am and whom I serve, O God, keep and save me in the right paths, in the heavenly will, until finally, my task is done and I go to spend that final eternity with Thee in glory" [Psalm 8:3-9; Proverbs 1:7, 27-29; Acts 27:23; 2 Timothy 4:7]. He is the smart man.
The Lord bless you, young people, as you turn your face to the life that lies ahead, full of perplexities, and tension, and despair; but remember, He lives. He holds the world in His hands, and He will see us through.
Now we’re going to sing our song, and while we sing the song, anywhere in the balcony around, this press of people on the lower floor, anywhere, somebody you, give your heart to the Lord. "Tonight, Pastor, I take Him as my Savior," or to come into the fellowship of this church. As the Lord shall lead the way and say the word, tonight would you come and stand by me? A family of you: "Pastor, all of us are coming tonight." Or one somebody you, as God shall say, shall lead, shall open the door, anywhere tonight. While we stand and sing this song, would you give your heart to the Lord? While we stand and while we sing.