During the Renaissance, after the invention of the Gutenberg Press made the bible available to all, the world’s vortices of intellectual pursuit converged with the aim of developing the human mind. Institutions like Oxford and Harvard sprung up. Their mission statements clearly set forth an understanding of soul and spirit under the guidance of an Almighty Creator through the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. A quick read of their original mission statements reveals this. It wasn’t long though before they began to deviate in the name of honest inquiry (yea hath God said?). Soon – as God counts time – the door opened to the possibility that there was no God and too soon that became accepted fact. Atheism, agnosticism, and spiritual principles of the kosmos mixed with truth and weeds of doubt and unbelief were planted and have sprouted into the society we have today. And it’s only escalating.
So is this stew of bonafide information, secular indoctrination, and myths based on debunked theories worth the soaring cost for a B.A. today? Many of you have been asking this question. I’d like to propose a different, much less expensive route, yet one which puts you indisputably in the same intellectual “league” as any college grad. Here in a nutshell is one potential godly “curriculum” to launch anyone into the next level of fulfilling the will of God for their life and to being able to hold their own among the world’s intelligentsia, without the high price tag. I would add that this is a basic structure, one which may be refined and added to according to personal desire and – above all – God’s leading.
Part One: Spiritual Development.
The best development of the human mind is to be able to read and understand the bible within its context and with spiritual insight. A steady diet of putting the bible into practice develops the mind in the context of an infinite, eternal purpose; it establishes the soul in this truth: that the mind is a servant, a useful tool of the spirit. This leads to a balanced mind, a “sound mind”, which encompasses both mental and emotional stability, good judgement, and accurate critical thinking. There will be humility instead of hubris, assertiveness, not grandiosity, honor rather than self-promotion, responsive and flexible leadership over insecure croneyism, Isaac instead of Ishmael. Could we possibly see our youth receive an education which launches them into the world with joy and peace, certitude and victory, with mental acuity, yet without depression, suicidality, doubt, substance abuse, loneliness and fear. How refreshing would that be?
But I have confidence in better things for you, beloved!
Where to get grounded in God’s Word is up to you. A good bible school can be one way. Some churches are like bible schools and will provide a great grounding as well.
Part Two: Academics.
This can be taken in a secular or Christian institution. Use discernment here, and be sure that the person can handle the secular environment, if that is what is chosen.
First, embark upon the study of an ancient languages: Latin or Greek. I recommend traditional academic study, apart from or in conjunction with biblical studies at first. Two to three years of ancient Latin or Greek will develop the ability to think logically, expose the learner to ancient cultures and other ways of thinking. It will ultimately bring a deeper perspective on the modern world. As a side note, Hebrew is another option here, but I don’t recommend it for a first choice because it is almost impossible to study ancient Hebrew without studying Torah and in this case, gaining a secular perspective, yet at an objective distance, is part of the process.
You might ask, Is language study really worth my time, given that there are wonderful translation apps now? For at least one language, it is worth your time. After that, you will possess enough knowledge to exegete with an app. Take tenses, for example. A tense is the time-frame of the verb’s action. In English, the verb “save” has three possible time frames, past, present and future. Within these, four modulations are possible, simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous. In Greek, there are either 6 or 7 tenses, depending on who is teaching it, with at least 6 modulations, plus a number of “moods” which color their meaning as well. So you might say Greek has two to three times the options for verb meanings than English. This is one of the reasons it is said that reading the bible in English versus Greek is like going from black and white to technicolor. Knowing Greek will let you understand beyond what the English translation states. Even an understanding of Latin, which is less complex than Greek, will help you understand better what the Greek and the Hebrew of the bible are saying, using an app.
Today it is possible to take college level language courses without enrolling in a degree program. I am sure there are other ways to learn an ancient language, as well. To be clear, you are not aiming to become a Latin scholar or fluent in ancient Greek. A basic foundation will be enough: two years is enough, and you won’t be doing it full time.
Along with this, a useful and profitable academic course will be history, particularly ancient history. Through the study of history you will delve into the philosophical world views and sociopolitical environments of various historical eras, with insight into how these panned out. The saying, ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,’ has some truth to it.
So we’ve got secular academic and biblical studies. (If math or science is your thing, don’t worry, I haven’t left it out, I’ll address it below.)
Part Three: Learn a trade.
Vocational expertise builds a good life and a stable society. To learn a practical skill or applied science is to have the ability to make a nice living, perhaps to live off the grid, start your own business, provide a service. These basic skills and stability are something many Ph.D.’s are lacking. There is also great benefit to your community and to your nation, for a nation which produces its own goods and has trades and skilled labor is a prosperous one. Often you will wind up hiring others. In other cases, you will work closely and successfully with other people. Under the blessing of God, your income will go up and up, as will your giving. You will become a pillar in your community and your community will grow stronger. There was a reason the Babylonians took the skilled laborers back home with them when they conquered a city.
It bears mentioning that many trades involve academic study in math and the sciences. Again, go the most direct route to getting these . A course or certification for a license can be enough. As you grow, and aim for excellence, you may add more.
One other element of a college education which I’d like to address is that of instilling respect for learning itself. College will teach you how to use a library for research, so you can actually learn to teach yourself many other subjects throughout life. Originally, there were no degrees higher than a bachelors. A basic foundation was expected to impart the ability to teach oneself any other given subject. This wisdom is available at many libraries where the reference librarian and others can introduce you to various databases and rooms housing special collections. Perhaps your high school offered this, as well.
There are times when a B.A., masters or doctorate are essential to doing a job you know you are called to do. However, it would be worth investigating the field you are interested in to see if you can do pretty much the same thing with less costly and less time-consuming credentials. Exorbitant costs for less value are causing many to think rationally yet outside the box when it comes to setting up a life. New certificates and majors are springing up which serve this purpose.
PS, one other component does not have anything to do with launching into a career but everything to do with living fully, that of having a hobby. From music to painting, to sewing to gardening to tinkering in the garage, a hobby will enrich your life. Do not however, get lost down the rabbit trail that confuses your hobby with your profession. Hobbies are fun, something we are passionate about. However, passion alone is not enough to support you. Opportunity is a door opened by God through which you can bring your passion and apply it. The main thing is to be led by God as you choose what to do with your life, and where.