Who is an educated person? A man with a doctoral degree? A master’s degree? A bachelor’s? An associate’s? A high school diploma? One who can read? One who does read? A man who knows well the field in which he earns a living? One acquainted with history and who appreciates fine art? One who mingles with the academics? Webster defines educate as “to cultivate and discipline the mind and other faculties by teaching.” Thus, an educated man is taught and disciplined in respect to some area(s) of knowledge.
Has America made the mistake of making a god of the educative process with little to no regard for what the process is actually teaching? We’ve raised generations to such heights of “education” they now believe people are nothing but glorified chimpanzees. Many “educated” educators teach the next generation of “educated” to trust the state and doubt the Bible, to indulge the flesh and refrain from religion, to deify man and detest the Messiah. We’ve “educated” a horde of lawyers and judges to teach us that the Lord has no real place on the public scene, on public property, or — in essence — in the public psyche. Ironically, God has become almost a trespasser in a nation whose coins still vow trust in him.
The apostle Paul indicated there is such a thing as “falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20, ESV). Surely it does not profit the mind to be full of falsehoods. Deceit will not deliver; lies will not last. The human mind was designed to run on higher grade fuel than error offers. Yet, there will always be he who “loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15), thereby hindering his own ability to perform as a man educated in what truly matters. There will be those “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). What results is that the ostensibly educated are, in fact, blinded to genuine truth. This is why Festus could say, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind” (Acts 26:24). No doubt Festus fancied himself more rational than the apostle when it came to the gospel, but reality was otherwise.
Let us lay aside the question of who Americans think is educated and, instead, ask, “Whom does God deem educated?” That answer reveals a strikingly different perspective. There is no degree required. No particular school is mandated. No diploma, no class ring, no alumni association, no grade point average, no transcript. In fact, it consists in nothing else but learning and doing God’s truth (John 8:32), which puts one in very close contact with a man named Jesus. Antagonists of the gospel long ago came to see that Jesus had a most unsettling way of turning the socially unlearned into the spiritually enlightened. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). You see, being with Jesus is the education.
Listen to and do what he taught and you will far outshine the rest. The psalmist wrote about God’s word, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99). So, who is educated? Is it a Ph.D. who rejects the gospel and goes to hell, or a high school dropout who obeys the Lord and goes to heaven? Who knew what mattered? As C. S. Lewis put it in the book, Mere Christianity (p. 78): “If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself.”