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    CHAPTER II. THE WORLD’S EDUCATION

    WHEN Christianity, as such, began in the world, the Word of God was its educational Book. However, there was at that time in the world that which claimed to be education; and not only education, but the only education in any true sense. This which was claimed to be the true education, and which was accepted by the world as the only true education, had to be met by Christianity. And on this question of education, as in all other things, Christianity and the world were at direct opposites.PBE 9.1

    Christianity and this other education met at the then three great educational centers in the world; and we know how entirely at opposites they stood, because we have the words of Inspiration on the subject, defining exactly what that was which was held by the world to be education.PBE 9.2

    Corinth was one of the three educational centers in the world, at that time. “Corinth was the Vanity Fair of the Roman Empire; therefore, at once the London and the Paris of the first century after Christ.”—Farrar. The great apostle to the Gentiles spent eighteen months in planting Christianity in that center of the world’s education; and when he had gone away, he wrote concerning heathendom and its education, these words: “After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21.PBE 9.3

    The world had reached the point at which it did not know God. It was “by wisdom” that the world reached this point. It was “by wisdom” that the world was caused not to know God. And that wisdom was the world’s philosophy, the world’s science,—in a word, the world’s education. Therefore, Inspiration plainly shows that that which was accepted by the world as education, was itself the means of their not knowing God. But Christianity is the definite and certain knowledge of God. How could any two things be more directly at opposites, than are a system which causes men definitely and certainly to know, and a system which definitely causes men not to know?PBE 10.1

    Ephesus was another of the three educational centers of the world. It was the most magnificent of “the magnificent cities of Asia.” “Its markets glittered with the produce of the world’s arts—were the Vanity Fair of Asia. Nor was any name more splendidly emblazoned in the annals of human culture, than that of the great capital of Ionia.”—Farrar. In that cultured and educational city the great apostle to the Gentiles conducted a Christian school nearly two and a half years: first in the synagogue “for the space of three months,” and afterward, “when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years.” Acts 19:9, 10. He was establishing a distinctly Christian education as against a distinctly heathen education. That which led directly to the establishing of this specific school of Christian education, was that “divers were hardened, and believed not.” Then, from the promiscuous audience, Paul separated the disciples, those who believed, and taught daily in the school of Tyrannus the way of Christian education. As a consequence many of the Gentiles of that cultured city became Christians. And when Paul wrote to the Ephesians, his epistle contained the following earnest words: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Ephesians 4:17, 18.PBE 10.2

    These Gentile people of the city of Ephesus were alienated (separated, cut off) from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them. It was their ignorance that was the cause of their separation from the life of God. But Ephesus was a center of education; and it was precisely that education that caused their alienation from the life of God. Yet Inspiration declares that they were alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them. It is, therefore, perfectly plain, that Inspiration defines their education to have been ignorance.PBE 11.1

    Athens was the third of these great centers of the world’s education. Athens was more than this: she was the mother of the then world’s education. Yea, she was even more than this: she was the mother, in a large sense, of that which has been the world’s education to this day. And to Athens also went the great apostle to the Gentiles. There he was brought before the Supreme Court, to be heard as to what bearing his teachings were having in the matter of being a “setter forth of strange gods.” And twice in his speech before that Court, and the assembled crowd, Inspiration uses the precise word that was used with reference to the world’s education in Ephesus. He said: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, to the unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us; for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.PBE 11.2

    “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” Acts 17:22-31.PBE 12.1

    They had erected an altar in honor of the unknown God. In this, they “ignorantly worshiped.” That city was wholly given to idolatry, for it was full of idols of gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device, expressing their ideas of God; and “the times of this ignorance” God endured, but now commanded “all men everywhere to repent” of this “ignorance.” But do not forget that all this was but a part, the central part indeed, of the education of Athens, of the education which she imparted, of the education of which she was the mother. For that education culminated in art; that art was idolatry; and that idolatry was but the manifestation of ignorance. Therefore, again it is demonstrated that the world’s education, Greek education, at that time, was only ignorance. And when it is understood how supremely Athens prided herself upon the education which she gave to the world, some faint estimate can be formed of the depth of the spirit of their mockery in response to the word of a despised Jew, standing in such a presence, and defining it all as “ignorance,” and calling upon them to repent of their education.PBE 13.1

    Yet ignorance is precisely, and only, what it was. That alter with its inscription “to the unknown GOD,” was but a monument erected to their ignorance. For that word “ignorance” which Inspiration uses, is not merely a term captiously used, to imply that the world’s education was equivalent to ignorance, and was ultimately ignorance in that it did not attain to the knowledge of God; but it is a word definitely selected by Inspiration as truly defining, in its very essence, the real character of that education: that it was in itself “ignorance.” This is clearly seen when it is understood what the principle and the process of that education were. This is given by accepted authority.PBE 13.2

    Socrates was the great educator of Greece; and Greece, through Plato and Aristotle, was the educator of the world. And of Socrates it is written:—PBE 14.1

    “Socrates was not a ‘philosopher,’ nor yet a ‘teacher,’ but rather an ‘educator,’ having for his function ‘to rouse, persuade, and rebuke.’—Plato, Apology, 30 E. Hence, in examining his life’s work, it is proper to ask, not, ‘What was his philosophy?’ but, ‘What was his theory, and what was his practice, of education?’ He was brought to his theory of education by the study of previous philosophies, and his practice led to the Platonic revival.PBE 14.2

    “Socrates’ theory of education has for its basis a profound and consistent skepticism.PBE 14.3

    “Taking his departure from some apparently remote principle or proposition to which the respondent yielded a ready assent, Socrates would draw from it an unexpected but undeniable consequence which was plainly inconsistent with the opinion impugned. In this way, he brought his interlocutor to pass judgment upon himself, and reduced him to a state of ‘doubt,’ or ‘perplexity.’ ‘Before I ever met you,’ says Meno in the Dialogue which Plato called by his name, ‘I was told that you spent your time in doubting, and leading others to doubt; and it is a fact that your witcheries and spells have brought me to that condition.’”—Encyclopedia Britannica, article “Socrates.”PBE 14.4

    Plato was the pupil and reporter of Socrates. Socrates himself left no writings. It is to Plato that the world owes almost all that it knows of Socrates, especially as to his “philosophy.” Thus, in the field of philosophy, speculation, metaphysics, Plato is the great voice and continuator of Socrates. Aristotle was a disciple of Plato; but he broke away from the particularly philosophical and metaphysical speculations of his master, and turned specially to science and physics. Plato leaned to having all things culminate in philosophy. Aristotle leaned toward having all things culminate in science: he would “reduce even philosophy to science.” And Aristotle like Plato continued in education the identical principle of education which was entertained by Socrates and continued by Plato: that doubt is the way to knowledge. For with Aristotle it was a maxim that “to frame doubts well” is a service to the discovery of truth.PBE 15.1

    Thus, then, as stated concerning Socrates, the basis of the whole theory of Greek education, both in science and philosophy, was “doubt,“—“a profound and consistent skepticism.” Indeed, the principal idea of that philosophy is expressed in the word “doubt.” The history of philosophy is but the history of doubt.PBE 15.2

    Now, the essential characteristic and quality of doubt is that it definitely causes him who exercises it, not to know. So long as any one doubts a thing, he can not know that thing. And not to know, is simply ignorance. Since, therefore, the basis of the great Greek educator’s theory of education was “doubt,”—“a profound and consistent skepticism;” and since the essential quality of doubt causes him who exercises it not to know; it follows that Greek education, being founded in doubt, and built up through doubt, was essentially ignorance. And Inspiration pierced to the very core of the whole system when it repeatedly defined that education as “ignorance.” And the word “ignorance” was definitely chosen by the Spirit of Inspiration simply because it essentially defined the thing.PBE 15.3

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