LCN Article
Higher Education: A Christian Perspective

May / June 2015

Scott D. Winnail

Scripture is replete with God’s admonitions for His people to prepare wisely for their future. God, the author and creator of the universe and the loving Father of us all, gave us clear guidelines to follow as we prepare to be used by Him in our future physical and even spiritual lives. Solomon observed that a wise person prepares a means of steady income before building a home and family (Proverbs 24:27). Christ directed Christians to build solid physical and spiritual foundations (Matthew 7:24–27).

He also directed Christians to develop the talents and skills that God gave them, and in that way present themselves to God in a pleasing way (Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:11–27). Many of God’s leaders obtained education and training prior to being placed in their leadership positions by God. Examples of this would include Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elisha, many of the prophets, the twelve Apostles, and the Apostle Paul.

In addition, God expects men and women to prepare for their future roles of service to and taking care of their family. The Apostle Paul told Timothy “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). That scripture directs families to prepare to take care of aging parents when this becomes necessary. And the principle can be applied more broadly. It directs men, as future husbands and fathers, to obtain the training and education needed to appropriately support self and family, and to contribute tithes and offerings to God’s Work. It implies that women, too, need to prepare adequately, obtaining the training and education necessary to be the best wives, mothers and grandmothers possible.

Young people must plan and prepare for their future, and parents and grandparents need to guide, direct, and encourage them to build a solid spiritual and physical foundation. For decades, it has been common knowledge that training and education lead to greater career opportunities. Typically, the higher one’s level of education or training, the greater one’s earning potential (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002; AOL, September 14, 2011). The better one prepares for the future (through university, technical school, or other training), the brighter the future will be. In today’s economy, formal education credentials are more important than ever for future success (The Atlantic, July/August 2010).

Years ago, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote a powerful booklet titled The Seven Laws of Success. Within its pages, he discussed the following seven laws, which—­when fully implemented­—guarantee success in life. The laws are: 1) Set the right goal, 2) Education and preparation, 3) Good health, 4) Drive, 5) Resourcefulness, 6) Perseverance, and 7) Involving God in the process. These simple but profound laws of success are not followed by most in the world today, and are even neglected by some in God’s Church. These important laws need to be recaptured and the booklet needs to be reviewed by young people in God’s Church, and parents and grandparents alike.

young peopleToday, many young people desire a good job that makes them “lots of money,” and many young women desire to fulfill their godly roles as wives and mothers, but few plan for and subsequently work toward these goals with perseverance. From a Christian perspective, lusting after or coveting a high salary for its own sake is wrong (Exodus 20:17)! But preparing for a well-paying job that one enjoys, so one can better support family and God’s Work, is entirely fine (Proverbs 24:27). Today, “many boys seem to think they will be successful—career-wise and financially—without having any idea about how they’ll achieve that success” (DiPrete & Buchmann, June 11, 2013). We see an alarming trend in higher education today, with young men likely to prioritize work over college—choosing to make money quickly and soon, as opposed to planning for and working toward a career that will benefit them and their future families far more over the long run (ibid.). Young men are also more likely than their female counterparts, to earn poorer grades in middle and high (secondary) school, and drop out of university. While women have made great strides in higher education, men have gone in the opposite direction (ibid.). However, although more women than ever are graduating with college and post-graduate degrees and are now holding more jobs in the public workforce and are forecasted to continue this trend (Rosin, July/August 2010), fewer women than ever are becoming full-time homemakers. Home Economics degree programs, originally designed to prepare wives and mothers, have gone the way of the cassette recorder and disappeared from many universities a few decades ago.

Education and preparation are critical and godly steps for future success. As we further develop our minds and skills, we provide God with additional tools He can use. Christ powerfully urged all believers not to neglect their God-given talents and in fact, to grow and build them (Matthew 25:14–29)! But, seeking the right type of education and training that is in harmony with God’s way of life now and in His Kingdom, takes a great deal of thought and planning (Proverbs 4:27). When pondering and planning for the future, it is important to ask the following questions: 1. How will a chosen career path mesh with God’s way of life today? For example, a medical professional who needs to be “on call” 24 hours a day, even for just one or two weekends a month, can be guaranteed to “break the Sabbath” on a regular basis—twice a month. A police officer or security guard who is required to carry a gun, even if he or she intends never to use it, can be guaranteed the opportunity to use it and is trained in doing so. Remember, our adversary will constantly tempt us to sin just as he did Christ (Matthew 4:1–3), and thus will predictably provide the opportunity to use a gun. 2. Will a chosen career path in society today help you build skills that will be useful for ruling in God’s Kingdom, or will it direct you to develop skills and perspectives that God will not want in His Kingdom? These are important questions to personally consider, discuss with family, and even share with a minister. And remember, choosing to focus one’s efforts on being a wife and mother is a “career choice,” worthy of the same education and preparation as any career. Once an idea of a career path is decided upon, what should be considered when choosing an educational setting or institution?

Cautions Regarding Worldly Education

Just as the tree Adam and Eve ate of was a “mixed bag” of good and evil, so too is education in the institutions of the world. Much of the information learned in the colleges, universities, and technical schools is correct and helpful. Many of the educators and students are sincere and desire to do good for society. However, Satan’s deceptive nature also permeates these institutions and learning environments and Christians need to be “on their guard” if they choose this educational path. University and even technical program students who are true Christians need to know what ideas and opportunities to avoid, and which to pursue.

For a glimpse into public education today, it is helpful to start by viewing the changes in university education over the last several decades. After all, university is where most teachers are made! In most large universities, faculty scholarship, research and publication are professorial duties that take precedence over teaching. Much of the teaching is actually done by minimally experienced graduate assistants and not faculty members (Cuban, 1990). In many elite schools, the balanced general education approach has been discarded in favor of technical training. Sadly, critics observe that this action forces students to memorize facts but leaves them devoid of the ability to think (Deresiewicz, 2014).

girl smiling at boyMorality on university campuses is certainly in rapid decline too. Sadly, the immoral and anti-God, anti-Christian atmosphere at universities today shapes the public school teachers and university professors of tomorrow. Where public education was once commissioned to reinforce the common morals of the community or state, public “education today is seen largely as an economic activity, not as a moral activity…” even on university campuses (Moral Intelligence, 2010). Some have described today’s children as “more lacking in decency, integrity, concern for others and morality” than all previous generations (Moral Agendas for Children’s Welfare, 2004). In a 2011 study, most young people surveyed did not believe in moral absolutes, were very tolerant, and felt uncomfortable identifying the behaviors of others as wrong or right (The New York Times, September 12, 2011), and they bring this lack of values to university campuses. Today, “waiting until marriage for a fulfilling sex life is considered not just quaint and outdated but quite possibly foolish… [while] the absence of relationship permanence” is valued. “The majority of young adults in America not only think they should explore different relationships, they believe it may be foolish and wrong not to” (Premarital Sex in America, pp. 170–171). And university campuses are where much of this exploration takes place. Parents who are considering “sending their children away” to live in an on-campus environment in a worldly college or university should think twice before placing their not-yet-converted children—God’s children—in such an environment.

studentsIn addition, over the last few decades, universities have become increasingly hostile to traditional Christian values and orientations. Evolution is typically taught as fact and influences students’ study in subjects from biology to chemistry, to anthropology, to sociology, to nursing and medicine. Homosexual conduct is taught as “normal” and even praised, instead of being rightly labeled as a sin. As Robert Bork noted, quoting sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset, university intellectuals have “… a predominant sympathy for the antiestablishment, liberal-left positions…. They have lent disproportionate support to atheistic, antiwar, civil rights, civil liberties for deviants, liberal Democratic, and third party causes” (Bork, 93). In essence, many university campuses have become vehicles for advancing social, intellectual, and political agendas—they are no longer what we would properly consider institutions of higher learning. Students and faculty are now expected to “tolerate” and “accept” a wide range of behaviors that were once viewed as sinful. Universities have normalized behaviors that many parents and even therapists consider “depraved” (Grossman, 149). Those who “hold on” to traditional values are labeled as bigoted and intolerant, or even ignorant and stupid. In general, the university experience (including the on-campus living experience) is designed to deconstruct traditional values and rebuild them in the image of the elite of the academy. It is no wonder that many young people lose their faith along with their “virtue” while at university.

boy readingEven with the inherent problems of the world’s educational system, there are still many benefits to education and preparation within this system. Individuals choosing to pursue training and education in universities or technical schools can learn a tremendous amount of useful information. The degrees or certifications they earn will open many doors of opportunity and earning. They can also build valuable skills and glean knowledge that can better prepare them for the workforce and even the home. But, caution is urged! One should not go into the world’s educational system naïvely assuming that everything taught is correct or even moral. Navigating the world’s system takes wisdom, guidance (from parents and other converted adults), and God’s help. Having God’s Holy Spirit within—through baptism—is also a tremendous tool and defense against Satan’s lies and deceptions. Seeking an education while living at home can provide constant access to converted parents and the opportunity to discuss the thoughts and ideas being taught—not to mention it is far less expensive than living on campus. This is especially important for younger students who are not yet baptized.

The Missing Dimension in Education

Although the world’s educational system does its best to train and educate people for the workforce, it is lacking in educating students for life. The world’s system does not teach students keys to live a happy and abundant life. It does not teach them how to budget, including setting aside tithes and offerings, so that God can bless them. It does not teach them from the “foundation of knowledge”—God’s Word. It does not teach students how to avoid Satan’s deceptions and how to develop a deeper relationship with God. However, God has blessed members of His Church with the establishment of an institution of higher education where this missing dimension in knowledge is central. Yes, that institution is Living University, where I have taught since 2008, and where I serve as Dean of Faculty. Living University’s programs are based on the Bible and include significant training in the Word of God. Additionally, Living University aims to recapture the true values of Bible understanding, in marriage and family preparation, in health and wellness, and even in finance. Our on-site program goes further in fostering this outlook in dating and social life, in leisure activities and in service to the Church and the community. It really is different—and I have experienced this firsthand, having also taught in the world’s universities for more than a decade before coming to Living University.

Living University graduatesUnlike the world’s universities, Living University offers programs aimed at teaching its students how to live a truly godly life. The majority of its classes focus on deepening the students’ Bible knowledge and understanding. However, the curriculum has expanded to include courses in marriage and family, education, business, speech communication, health and nutrition, counseling and more. The aim is to provide a balanced curriculum—much of which should eventually be transferable to other universities, for those who need that option. Living University is a powerful tool for building a stronger spiritual foundation necessary for any Christian, male or female, and with this purpose in mind has developed courses that will help “round out” Christians for service to their families and the Church. Whether one wants to become a better father, mother, husband, or wife (current or future), Living University offers helpful instruction. Living University also offers courses that can help prepare students for education elsewhere. The on-site program provides additional social interaction, guidance and training in many other areas, and also the opportunity to personally grow and develop as an independent adult, in a much safer and more godly environment than is offered by the world’s educational institutions.

Living University libraryFor those who choose an education in the world’s system, Living University’s online curriculum can still be an important tool for building spiritual depth and countering powerful worldly influences. And Living University’s online curriculum is a tool and blessing that God’s people of almost any age can use to continue developing their God-given talents. Living University is not intended to train individuals for careers in the workplace, but it is intended to provide God’s people with a powerful spiritual undergirding that can help prevent deception and help insure that godly values and His way of life are instilled in future generations. Even a year or two of Living University study can help create an unshakable spiritual foundation that will benefit self, family, and church.

Education and preparation are important to God. Before entering the Promised Land, God charged parents and grandparents to pass on His way of life to their children and their grandchildren (Deuteronomy 4:9–10). God wants us to plan for the future, building our lives on a firm biblical foundation (Matthew 7:24–27). He wants us to plan for the future and obtain the proper training to excel in our future roles (Proverbs 24:27). God wants us to be successful in this life as well as in the life to come. But, success does not just happen. It takes thought, planning, and hard work. To succeed in the world today and to find a vocation that is enjoyable, godly, and suitable for supporting a family takes forethought and will take training and education. Young people should view education as a necessary step to success, whether inside or outside the home. The better prepared we are for our future roles, the more successful we will be and the better served the people around us will be—even including our spouse and our children!

The world’s educational system can be an important tool to success, but it must be treated as a two-edged sword. There are many benefits that can be sought out, yet there are drawbacks that must be avoided. Many in God’s Church will naturally gravitate toward the strengths Living University can offer, that cannot be found in the world’s educational system, as an important part of a person’s preparation for godly success, even if the on-site program is not an option. As godly goals are set, effort and work is put into proper education and preparation, and the remaining laws of success are put into play, true godly success will be achieved in this life, and beyond!

For more information on Living University be sure to visit or call 704-708-2292 with questions.