Can Anything Good Come Out of Academia?

College classes, College debt, College Influence. 

Sometimes those words strike fear in our hearts—worry about institutional drift, the exaltation of humanistic philosophy, higher criticism, the financial cost—all this abounds in the minds of parents and students alike.  

Just like Nathaniel asks Philip if anything good could come out of Nazareth, the parallel question could equally be asked: “Is there any good that can come out of academia?” 

Perhaps you’ve found yourself asking that question before. I sure have, and I ask it often.  

I’ve seen students graduate from high school and go off to college only to return more messed up than when they left. I’ve seen students who have gone to study and come back as know-it-alls, thinking that they are better than everyone. I’ve seen students pile up debt larger than the cost of some homes. I’ve seen academia become a counterfeit god, where someone’s whole identity is wrapped up in their schooling. I’ve seen higher education change people—often to their detriment.  

“I’ve seen higher education change people—often to their detriment.” 

So, it seems to me a legitimate question: “Is there any good that can come out of academia?” 

In contemplating the value of higher education, here’s where I’ve landed: Anything can be used or pushed in a wrong direction. Anything can be abused. But that doesn’t mean the “thing” itself is inherently bad.  

As someone who has spent years in college, my prayer has always been that it would push me as a means to a greater end. I want to be sharpened in what I believe. I want to know more about the God who I love and serve. I want to be able to reach out with the tenets of the faith to a culture that is increasingly post-Christian. I want to engage with those who think about things differently so I can know why I believe the things that I do. I want to live as a lifelong learner who isn’t just studying for a test or a paper, but who is seeking to mature and develop for a lifetime. 

These are the things that we continue to push our students towards as well.  

Here, at Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary, we desire to develop students through a different kind of higher education. Our textbook each day is the Bible, the highest and best source of all knowledge. It’s God’s Word—inspired, inerrant, and true from cover to cover.  

“Here, at Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary, we desire to develop students through a different kind of higher education.”

We want to train our students, challenge them academically, and call them to excellence, but we do this with an intentional focus in mind. We want to prepare students for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom.  

We want to see an increase in learning God’s Word from our students, but we do so with a higher purpose—to know God and to make Him known. We don’t want our students to be puffed up with knowledge and to stand back and boast about all they have learned and how much they have accomplished. We want our students to mature in their understanding of God and to grow as lifelong learners. We want them to witness how all of Scripture points to the promise plan of God for their salvation, and how God calls them to live holy lives for Him as they engage in the world around them. 

This is a very different pursuit of higher education indeed. 

You see, someone can be a wise and learned scholar, but it can still amount to nothing in their life. They may have just turned into a clanging gong who waxes eloquently for hours about what they’ve learned.  

But God is after a different heart for His people. A heart that expresses the love of our Savior to those around us. 

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