Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 2:15
4-29-62 10:50 a.m.
Today we have dedicated this hour to Christian education. I am in the midst of a revival meeting in a deep East Texas county seat town by the name of Center. And I am driving back the two hundred miles this afternoon to close that revival meeting to conduct that final service tonight. And I drove here, the two hundred miles, to be present for this morning hour because of the weight and worth and significance of this great campaign for our schools and our universities.
The fourfold objective set before us by our convention and by our education commission are these: one, that we enlist twenty percent—one out of five of every one of our young people who goes to college—that we enlist twenty percent of them to attend our Baptist schools. In this church, out of a graduating class of seniors, that one out of five of them at least, go to one of our Baptist colleges.
A second objective is that fifty percent of our Baptist students who go to our state campuses be enlisted in our Baptist Student Union. A third objective is that, with God’s help, we seek to train the preachers, and the teachers, an the educational directors, and the singers, and the nurses, and the denominational leaders, and the missionaries—without which our work cannot continue—that we train them in these tasks so vitally and urgently needed in the life of the ministry of Christ in this earth. Then the last objective is, in behalf of the building of those institutions, that our people in Texas raise twenty-eight million dollars for buildings and for classrooms so vitally and urgently needed.
Now a thing like that is mechanical and mostly meaningless unless it rests upon a great spiritual and moral foundation. And for the creation of that spirit and that attitude and that atmosphere in our church, I return today to make these two addresses; one at eight-fifteen o’clock—at the early hour—and the other at this hour.
In the fifteenth verse of the second chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul wrote, “Study, study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2 Timothy 2:15]. As you know, that’s the motto text of our Training Union. I’ve heard it spoken of many times. I’ve heard speeches and sermons and addresses on “study.” I’ve heard it on “the workman that needeth not to be ashamed.” I’ve heard it on “rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I’ve delivered addresses on the subject myself, but I never heard anybody refer in my life to “the approval of God” [2 Timothy 2:15], in the text. Now I haven’t time to deliver a sermon on it, but it is a vital part of that thing that Paul spake of when he wrote the sentence; the God approval of our studying, and of our working, and of our laboring, and of our ministering.
Sometimes the New Testament will refer to a man as a dichotomy. There is an outward man and an inward man. Then sometimes, and most of the times, the New Testament will refer to a man as a trichotomy; in the Greek Paul will use the words like this. He will refer to a somatikos man, to a psuchikos man, and to a pneumatikos man.
The somatikos man is the body man, the carnal man, the sensual man. The psuchikos man—”psychosis” man, you’d say it in English—is the man of mind and emotions, the intellectual man. And the pneumatikos man is the spiritual man. Those are the three levels of human life.
Some never get out of the basement of the life. They never rise above the first level. All their days they spend in sensuality, in carnality, in striving to satisfy the desires of the flesh. That is the somatikos man, the carnal man, the sensual man.
A dean had before him a girl who was failing. And he asked her, “Why did you come to college?” And she replied, “Well sir, I came to be went with, but I ain’t been yet.” He had another boy there before him who was failing in college, and he said, “Young fellow, why did you come to college?” And the boy said, “Well dean, I don’t rightly know. My mother says it’s to fit me to be president of the United States. My uncle John says it’s to sow my wild oats. My sister Mary says it’s to get her a rich boyfriend, and my dad says it’s to bankrupt the family.” Some never get out of the sensual, the carnal, the somatikos life.
Then there are others who in dignity and in strength rise to the second level of life, the psuchikos man, the man of intellectual training and study and achievement. One of the most moving stories I ever read in my life was of a boy—the son of a poor widow—who worked in the slag heaps, the dump heaps of a coal mine; a thin, underfed, emaciated boy. And upon a day there was a great cave-in in this mine in southern Illinois. And there was an aperture just big enough for a small boy to climb through to sixty men trapped down there below. And the head of the mine said, “Son, if you’ll take this pipe and drag it down there, being careful lest you disturb those great piles of rock and coal, lest they crush you to death, if you’ll be careful and drag this pipe down there, we may be able to get water, and air, and milk to save those men until we can rescue them.”
And the little boy said, “I’ll try.” And he dragged that pipe six hundred feet below. And after a week they rescued all sixty men and the boy. And the governor of the state of New York heard about it and called for that brave little fellow. And when he stood in the presence of the big man in Illinois, the big man said, “Son, our state is proud of your courage and devotion. What can we do for you?”
And when the boy found his voice he replied to the big, kindly man who stood before him. He said humbly, “Sir, I would like to know how to read.” Well, this is a true story. I need not describe what the state did. They gave the boy the finest education that the state of Illinois could afford. And today he is a noble citizen of that commonwealth. It is a worthy ambition, and an honored one of God, when a boy or a girl says in her heart or in his soul, “I would like to know. I’d like to go to school. I’d like to study. I’d like to know how to read not only the books but God’s creation in the universe.”
And that leads me to the third level of possible life. Once in a while you’ll find somebody who has in his soul a great ambition above the sensual and the carnal—the somatikos—above the intellectual, above the training of the scholastic academic world as such. Once in a while you’ll find a boy or a girl with a great ambition to rise to the third level of possible life—that is, the spiritual life; to read the thoughts of God, to follow the handiwork of the Lord, whose windows are open toward heaven, who communes with the great Almighty of the universe. And that we call “Christian education,” education in the mind of God, in the spirit of Christ.
And that leads me now to define for the moment what is Christian education. It is two things: first, Christian education is education under Christian influences and in a Christian environment and atmosphere. It is education in a devoutly Christian institution. By that, I mean the president is a great Christian, an exemplary man; the faculty, all are Christians, all of them. If I had an insistence—and I don’t, I’ve tried, don’t succeed—but if I had an insistence, I would insist that every teacher in a Christian college or university be a Christian teacher. That’s what it is to have a Christian institution! And it is an institution in which the great majority of the student group is Christian. And it is an institution in which the organizations on the campus and the activities of the campus are in keeping with the high spiritual ideals of the Christian faith.
I went to school for ten solid consecutive years in two Christian, great Christian institutions. Those who were smarter got out in one, two, three, four, or five years; us who were dumber and stupider it took longer. It took me ten years. I went four years to Baylor and six years to the Southern Seminary in Louisville. I could not describe the effect, the influence, the indelible impression made upon my soul in attending those Christian schools. I studied botany in one course and eugenics and genetics in another course under the tutelage and leadership of this godly, scholarly, religious leader who is on our platform today. At that time he was a professor in Baylor; then he was dean of the school. Then, as you know, president of Technological College in Lubbock and now heads our education commission in the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
I learned botany—made an “A” in the course, remember that? I studied eugenics and genetics. I took several of those premed courses in Baylor. I made “A” in that. God bless this man. But whether he is cognizant of it or not—incidentally I learned things of plant life and incidentally I learned about genes and chromosomes. But mostly I learned the example of a great scholar who in his mind as well as in his soul reverenced our Lord. That is Christian education.
And Samuel Palmer Brooks who conducted chapel every day, you couldn’t but be something nobler just to listen to that great president. And the revival meetings that were held on the campus—one of the highest tides of spiritual life I ever saw arise to glorify God in all of my life was in my senior year at Baylor when Dr. L. R. Scarborough, president of the Southwestern Seminary came and conducted the revival on the campus. These things briefly are Christian education. That and one other: it is education under Christian teachers, under Christian leadership, in an institution that is built upon the great spiritual ideals of our Lord Jesus.
Second: it is education in the interpretation of the phenomenon, the facts of life in the mind of Christ, as Christ would look at a thing. Oh, it is so different! Some people look at the stars and they see laws of magnitude and might, but they never see God! Yet a devout man will say:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament showeth His handiwork.
Day unto day utter speech . . . there is no line, there is no language where their voice is not heard.
That is a Christian interpretation.
The astronomer studying the stars; but, oh! for a teacher who knows the Bright and the Morning Star [Revelation 22:16]. The geologist who knows the rocks; but, oh! the teacher who knows the Rock of Ages [Exodus 33:22; Isaiah 26:4 (Hebrew)]. The botanist who knows the flowers; but, oh! for the professor who knows the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valley [Song of Solomon 2:1]. The zoologist who knows anatomy and animal life; but, oh! for the teacher who knows the Lion of the Tribe of Judah [Revelation 5:5]. The eschatologist who looks forward and projects life through these centuries that lie ahead; but, oh! for that devout man who looks up toward the great and coming King [1 Timothy 6:15]. That is Christian education; studying under the guiding hands of brilliant men who see beyond a physical phenomenon into the marvelous mind of God!
Now we must hasten. Why Christian education? Why these Christian schools and institutions? First: because of the genius of our American government; and I, like you, would lend all of the strength of our life and soul to the building up of that wall—higher and higher, thicker and broader, finer and stronger—that separates between the state and the church.
Let Caesar’s dues be paid
To Caesar and his throne;
But consciences and souls were made
To serve the Lord alone.
A free church in a free state, and every man to look up to God as he will for himself in freedom, in liberty; uncoerced, absolute religious liberty! And that interdicts forever the teaching of religion in any state institution.
It is no happy prospect to me to think that our children might be sent away to a school and there they are taught religion by a man who’s a Mormon, by somebody who’s a Unitarian, by somebody who is a Christian Scientist. It is the hope and desire of my life and soul, as it is yours, that if we are going to have public school education for our children in the grammar school and the high school and for our students in the university, that they confine their teaching to areas outside of doctrine and the teaching of the revelation and the meaning of the Scriptures of God. There is no other way to have a government and a nation such as ours, where there is absolute separation between church and state, but to interdict by law the teaching of religion in our public schools.
Now that forces any religious leader, any discerning disciple of Christ, that forces any true Christian to search his soul. How are we going to divorce morality and religion? How are we going to divorce great spiritual leadership and the interdiction against tax-supported religion? How are we going to do it? There is no way to do that but in these two great objectives of this crusade.
One: when we send our students to state campuses, there they also are brought into the circumference and the orbit of our fine preachers and Christian leaders in a B.S.U., in a Baptist Student Union on the campus, in their workhouse hard by, in their churches, and their pastors. While they are there learning all the physical phenomena of life—physics, and chemistry, and anatomy, and astronomy, and chemistry—while they’re learning these things, we also seek to minister to their souls by these things that belong to us in our Baptist convention in our student program, in our churches, and with our preachers.
Then above all and beyond all, our answer lies in the building of a school and of an institution that is peculiarly, unusually, extraordinarily ours. It belongs to us. And in that school while we’re teaching the knowledge of all of the things God hath wrought, we can also teach the reverential respect, and love, and worship, and adoration of the great Lord God Christ Himself; both of them together. And that is possible only in our denominational church related Christian school; teaching the faith to those who enter through its doors.
Roger Babson, the inimitable statistician said, Roger Babson said, “The need of the state and the need of this hour is not more factories, and more materials, and not more railroads, and it’s not more navies and more armies and more airplanes, but” Roger Babson said, “the need of this day and this hour is more education in keeping with the mind of Christ.” If I could illustrate that, I’d say it like this. On a day, you let an old dirty bum walk down the railroad track, and he’ll break into a boxcar and steal a can of tomatoes because he’s hungry. Take that same filthy, dirty old bum and dress him up and send him to college, and he’ll steal that entire railway system and get away with it. Don’t ever persuade yourself that you change the complexion of men by intellectual processes. Men are changed only in spiritual realities. They’re only changed as their souls are changed; their visions are changed, their dreams are changed, the moral foundations upon which their lives are built, that’s where men are changed.
And our American government cannot exist apart from the moral spiritual foundations upon which it is built. And that’s why in this earth today, we face such stark and terrible tragedy, because these who are our enemies, who live on the other side of these iron and bamboo curtains, they are men without religion, and that means without morality. And no treaty you will ever write with a man like that is worth the paper it’s written on. And no contract you ever make with a man like that is worth the ink by which they sign the protocol. There is no such thing as integrity and honesty and morality that is not rooted in the character of God! Not what is expedient or what is popular or what is profitable, but what is right by the grace of God. For the training of Christian leadership, we look to our Christian institutions.
And now, because the time rushes away, let me speak of a third reason why our Christian schools. The first reason was because of the genius of our American government. There is an interdiction teaching religion in school. The second reason was for the training of Christian leadership, the building of the moral, spiritual foundations upon which our nation exists and without which it perishes—it is destroyed. Now the third reason is for us. Our denomination, our communion, our fellowship of churches cannot exist apart from its Christian school. Next to the loss of the church itself, is the destruction and the loss of the Christian college. And our denomination, I repeat, cannot exist apart from the building of these Christian schools.
Here in the state of Texas, by a strange coincidence, the numerical superiority of the denominations is in direct proportion to the number of its colleges. And in the coincidence I began to refer to and in a strange coincidence in the state of Texas there are the same number of senior colleges belonging to the people called Baptist as there are to the people called Catholic. They have seven senior colleges, and our Baptist General Convention has seven senior colleges.
Between the years of 1955 and 1961, in the spread of those six years, in those six years the student enrollment in our seven Baptist colleges increased 2.4 percent. In that same six years—between 1955 and 1961—through those same years, the enrollment in those seven Catholic colleges increased 56.7 percent! Whose is the future of the state of Texas?
In 1950—in 1950, twenty-five percent of all of our Baptist students who went to college went to our Baptist colleges. In 1960, there was eighteen—there was seventeen percent of our Baptist students who entered those schools and colleges; from twenty-five down to seventeen in 1960. And in 1962, this year, there is 16.8 percent; that graph goes disastrously down and down and down.
And you say, “Well, that’s kind of immaterial.” Now you listen to this: when that graph goes down and down, it carries with it the future of our life in a way you don’t realize. Listen, in 1955 there were 1,891 ministerial students—boys who were preparing to preach the gospel of Christ—in 1955, 1,891; and this year, six years later, there are 894! Just give us time and we’ll not even have the preacher for the churches. And you don’t build your church without a preacher! “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” [1 Corinthians 1:21]. And in a period of six years, we have lost one-half of the preacher boys who take these pulpits on a tomorrow.
May I say a thing repeated here by Mr. Cantrell and Dr. Jones? The objectives of this crusade are not nearly so much for our schools as they are for the very life of our churches themselves and for the General Convention that was organized to serve our people.
Now I have a minute; let me make an appeal. Those old Hebrew prophets had a habit of calling their people back, back, back, back to their forefathers. As great Isaiah said, “Look, look unto the rock from whence ye were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence you were digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you” [Isaiah 51:1-2]. We come of a line and of a people. Wherever they have gone, there by the side of their church they build their college. Whether it was Brown in Rhode Island, or Furman in South Carolina, or Mercer in Georgia, or Union in Tennessee, or Baylor in Texas, wherever, there did they build their Christian school. And we are their children; and if we have any destiny and if we have any future, it lies in the—it lies in the kind of character, and persuasion, and Christian testimony, and dedication that lived and breathed and moved in the hearts of those men; like Carroll, and like Scarborough, and like Mercer, and like Weymouth, and like Wayland.
We’ve lost some of them. You know why? Because we lost interest in them and failed to support them. And the infidel came, and the materialist came, and the worldly one came, and they took over some of our schools. Oh, that we could keep forever in the heart and the soul of the ministry of Christ in this state Simmons, Hardin-Simmons, and Baylor, and Brownwood, Howard Payne, East Texas at Marshall, and all of these great schools teaching our preacher boys, and our missionaries, and our Christian young men and young women; preparing them for the great challenge to which God hath called us on the morrow!
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear, O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
We shall not cease from spiritual strife,
Nor shall the sword lie in our hands
Until we have built Jerusalem,
In Texas’ fair and pleasant land
[adapted from “And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time,” William Blake, 1804]
God bless our people as we rise with our fellow Christians in this empire state to do worthy of God for the youth on which walks our churches, and our mission fields, and our great denomination tomorrow.
Now while we sing our song, somebody this day give his heart to Jesus, come. We had a marvelous response at the 8:15 o’clock hour. May the Lord grant a like response to us today. Somebody you trusting the Lord as Savior; a family you, coming into the fellowship of this precious church, as the Spirit of God shall lead in the way and as the Lord shall open the door, make it now. On the first note of this first stanza, “Here I come, preacher, and here I am,” while we stand and while we sing.