Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Harvard University was chartered in 1636. Consider this entry in the original Harvard Student Handbook. "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies, is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, John 17:3;and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation for our children to follow the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."

Those founders took seriously the instruction of Paul to Timothy, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:16 NKJV) They believed the Bible to be the word of truth. They believed the educated person would use his learning to study, understand, and teach the truth of the Bible.

Harvard may well have lost this vision. It is really easy to do. Even in Baptist life, we often to not rightly divide the word of truth, but rely on tradition, or generalities, or a hodge podge of beliefs garnered from many sources. Most Baptist writing is devotional rather than theological.

Visit any Baptist Book Store, now known as Lifeway, today, and see books by people of wildly differing theologies. A book by a Church of Christ minister is next to one by a Presbyterian, that is next to one by a church growth specialist. How do the lay people know what is truth? Many do not, and combine the parts they like into their own theology. Then, we complain that our people do not believe in absolute truth.

We should study the Bible in detail and divide the word of truth. Read it all and try to figure out what it means. Many times I have read a passage and asked a pastor or professor about its meaning, especially in light of some other passage. As often as not, I am treated to a shrug. Does anyone know the answers? Are the answers reserved for seminary?

So I read books. I read the Bible. And try to divide the word of truth. Sometimes it gets me into trouble, as I disagree with the way some things are done, based on scripture. But, I guess it puts me in good company. Men have been getting into trouble trying to read, learn, and apply the scripture to life for centuries. Fortunately, Baptists don't martyr those who do this, they just give them that funny look. You know what I mean.
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