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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Shoaff's Mill waterwheel
Shoaff's Mill in Little Buffalo State Park, Perry County, PA
Click to enlarge

"A Consideration Of Academia"

Message summary: Today's message is a bit longer but the essence is to keep contending for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20,21).

Before I make a trip and often again afterwards I like to look at a map of where I'm going and after the trip, where I've been. I don't do this so much to get directions but to get a feel for the area. For many years now I have used online maps like Google for this rather peculiar interest.

Sunday we drove about 60 miles northwest to a remote part of Perry County to the colorfully named town of Ickesburg (see here on Google map). The only photo that comes up when I open this page is a decrepit building from Google street view! But the natural scenery in the area is beautiful.

When exploring on a Google map a bit west of Ickesburg and over a mountain ridge there's a town named Academia (see here). I can't determine the source of the name but close by is an historical site known as The Tuscarora Academy, built in 1816, which was once ranked high among the educational institutions of the state and nation until its closure in 1912.

So today we will title the message "A Consideration Of Academia" but in a different sense!

Academia is defined as "the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship". There is a sense with the availability of resources to study anyone can be an academic but the word is generally used of those who live in a world with other academics in a formal college type setting. Bluntly, my observation is that a lot of what comes out of self-proclaimed academia is pure nonsense and today's first verse aptly describes many (but certainly not all) academics, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

This verse describes the human condition. It is in a context concerning the human response to God. The Greek and Roman unbelievers boasted of their wisdom and held the rest of the world in contempt, but at the same time their idolatry showed their utter folly.

Modern man claims to be so wise. We are surely,
based on years of formal education, the most educated age in history. So many feel they are intellectually superior and enlightened compared previous generations. This can often be seen in the attitude of the younger toward the elder population, and indeed many in our present day have more years of 'formal" education. When we went to school most of us, after high school or 4 years of college, went to work. Now so many, who are already heavily in debt, stick around for advanced degrees and I speak to so many that cannot get work in their field. Then incredibly some start over in something else!

C.S. Lewis referred to this attitude as "chronological snobbery". Chronological snobbery is the presumption that the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior when compared to that of the present. (I find it easier to use the term “generational snobbery”.)

By and large the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible are scoffed at or ignored by many in our time who profess to be wise. Modern man has no use for the teachings of the Bible in this “enlightened” age. But the Bible gives a not so flattering, but rather scathing description, "They became fools".

The single verse from Acts 17 is a candid observation of the scholarly in Athens who "spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new". Quite the contrast to the words of an old hymn, “I love to tell the story to those who know it best, seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest”.

Finally Paul’s first letter to Timothy ends with this solemn caution, "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith". In the nearly 25 years I have been writing these messages I have often commented on the first part, "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you".

But the final part also includes an important caution, "Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.” I ask you to note this phrase, “what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’” and consider how it may apply to our time.

Today we encourage you to sharpen your spiritual discernment. As Paul directed Timothy now we use his words to our readers, "Guard the deposit entrusted to you". This is the deposit of faith in the Bible and the long held truths of the Christian faith.

In Second Timothy 3:13-17: we read that "evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work".

Be encouraged today and stay faithful, contending for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, we want to prayerfully consider Timothy’s warning and realize that evil will escalate in the last days where the wicked and impostors will worsen and deception will be rampant even in the church. This happens when the Holy Bible is not the supreme authority, and is replaced by the popular teaching of those who seek to sway believers as they “spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” We want to be wise, discerning, and careful to line up that which we hear with the ancient words of Scripture. You will judge the world with righteousness and all the nations with Your truth. Therefore we want to be fully devoted to following Your commandments, contend faithfully to the truth, and guard the deposit You entrusted to us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Some additional thoughts and perspective on today's topic:

(Scroll down if you just want to see our photos!)

Many years ago we began our Bible College education in preparation for our ministry at Central Bible College in Springfield, MO.  In fact we met and started dating in our Freshman year. We are so thankful for our teachers who instilled in us a love and high regard for God’s Word.

Although we also had general education and practical ministry courses our college education had a very heavy emphasis upon the study of the Bible itself. Five days a week we also had mandatory chapel services which almost always included a message from God’s Word. This chapel hour was not reckoned toward the credit hours needed to graduate.

Many of the classes were named for the Bible books which, after a background introduction, we would study verse by verse, such as “Synoptic Gospels”, “the Gospel and Epistles of John”, “the Acts of the Apostles”, “Romans and Galatians” and so forth. Our Bible College closed last in 2013 after nearly 90 years of preparing students for ministry. The remaining students (who chose to do so) merged into the liberal arts college across town. We frankly grieve at the direction so much ministerial education has gone in our lifetime with a lesser emphasis on the Holy Scriptures.

Let me illustrate my concern by something I can personally testify to. When we were in Bible College we were taught the Creation account in Genesis as literal truth. About twenty years ago I was attending a chaplain's conference in Springfield and heard a professor from the university that CBC was “merged” into, mock and ridicule the Genesis Creation account as we were taught and he also mocked those, like me, who held the traditional interpretation.

Now we certainly appreciate scholarship in the sense of being a diligent student of God’s Word. This certainly may include those with a high amount of formal education. We are all indebted to those who are well-studied and demonstrate godly wisdom. But this scholarship must be built upon a foundation that holds a high view of Scripture, a belief in the plenary, inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures. The word “plenary” means “full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified.” One aspect of a “plenary” understanding of God’s Word is that even the details matter. “Inspired” means God-breathed, God’s Holy Spirit directed the human writers in regard to the words. The doctrine of “inerrancy” asserts that the Scriptures are without error.

But in far too many cases scholarship is not rooted in this high view of Scripture, along with a respect for the views of those who have studied and lived for God in previous generations. When that happens anything goes. I read
an article about a speech given to a scholarly society that in my view has many heretical elements. New, faddish ideas and concessions to the world are celebrated and the pride of this pseudo scholarship asserts that it is above criticism by the stodgy conservatives, who are presented as bullies if they even question these "scholars".

This is nothing new though. The access to information through the internet and other mass media sure has increased the rate in which not only the truth but error can spread.

I found these thoughts of discernment I had written many years ago and updated for today's message:

* Don’t be seduced by phrases such as “Modern scholarship says...” You will often see articles with phrases like this in secular magazines attacking the orthodox faith and foundational doctrines of Christianity like the Resurrection. You can find a “scholar” to support about any position imaginable. Self-proclaimed scholars may also use this to silence you and others they deem not scholars.

* In regard to ministry titles they don’t necessarily mean anything! A Dr. before a name may mean a true advanced degree but there are many in the ranks of ministry who have doctorates that can be ordered through the mail or internet which may require next to nothing in effort, although usually there is a cost involved! What’s more, even a legitimate advanced degree does not mean one has true wisdom, sound knowledge or a commitment to the authority of Scripture! Now let me make it clear there are many who have worked very hard for an advanced degree, including readers of these messages. My point is not to diss them, but rather to give caution that the title does not necessarily mean anything due to the abuse in obtaining these degrees! The Rev. title likewise can be obtained in many ways. Many recall a story from about thirty years ago when my dog was ordained and for $25.00 could have been a doctor! (see here).

* “Experts have determined...” Ask what experts and what is their agenda? You can find an “expert” to support practically any position imaginable. Note this is also true of expert witnesses in a court of law which both sides may have each holding opposing positions. I personally witnessed this in a trial in northern PA when the defense paid big bucks to pay an expert to concoct some ridiculous theory to absolve the defendant of guilt. Thankfully the common sense jury in that small town saw through it!

* “Recent studies or research has determined...” Thank God for ongoing research and new discoveries but just use discernment.

* “Respected (or reputable) scientists (or theologians) state...” The implication is that if you don’t hold to a certain view you are not reputable nor can your view be respected! Many years ago I heard a pastor reject a traditional Bible teaching and stated, “Respected scientists or theologians no longer believe that.” I happened to know many scientists and theologians who do maintain Biblical faith on the matter, as well as I. His statement implied they weren’t respected and I suppose I wouldn’t be either, in his view!

* “What do I know, I’m just a simple layman” Too many dedicated laypeople and ministers with a lesser degree of education feel they can’t speak on an issue or their viewpoint is of lesser value. Listen to me: God gave you a brain and the ability to think. You have access to the Bible and scores of study resources. I am so blessed by the amount of Biblically solid study resources on the internet. Don’t let those with more "formal" education, credentials, titles, etc. intimidate you! In addition to this some of the most Biblically informed people I have ever known were not formally trained at all. I consider Rick Masciantonio from the church I served in Massachusetts who is without a doubt the most studied person I have ever known. He is vocationally a plumber although he now pastors a church. Or Tom Neizmik, who was a part of our church in northern PA and a very thoughtful student of God’s Word although he has no formal ministry training. In a church we attended for many years I recall Eldon Lehman, who is now with the Lord. He was a local farmer with some training at Lancaster Bible College. His earnest and well-prepared teaching from God’s Word in our Sunday School class is something we both still recall. You might consider similar people in your church.

* “My pastor or my church changed and now hold this view on a matter so it must be so.” No, no, no!!! Truth is not determined by what a pastor or church states. Many pastors and churches have departed from the faith and reject key doctrines taught in the Bible and held by our forefathers. You need to stand on the Word of God and think on your own! Any pastor worthy of the name is blessed when people examine the Scriptures like the Bereans. (see Acts 17:11)

* “That viewpoint is so old-fashioned.”  So what! The question is, “does it line up with the Bible”?

* “Most people don’t believe that way anymore.”  1) Truth is not determined by a poll. 2) Actually this is often just not the case but is intended to get you to reject something under the assumption that you are in the minority. This is used to make you feel foolish for believing a certain matter. You can almost always be assured when you hear this that there are still plenty of people who believe the way you do!

* “That’s a hateful view” This is a new diabolical strategy used in the last several years to promote an agenda. Many of us have seen it in regard to the attempt (which sadly succeeded in our apostate nation) to redefine marriage. Those of us who maintain the Biblical and historical position on marriage and do not believe it should be redefined are labeled “hateful”. Let us be faithful to the truth rather than seek the approval of men!

Perhaps thoughtful readers can think of other similar points in regard to using discernment in the attacks on our faith.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Stand"  Video  Booth Brothers

"Still"  Video  Greater Vision

"Still"  Video  Legacy Five  (different song!)

Today we share some more photos from our trip to Perry County on Sunday.

Old rail grade in Little Buffalo State Park
This old rail grade is in the Little Buffalo State Park and would make an excellent biking trail. But alas, it's not very long! We hope to explore this beautiful state park in the future and will probably find other trails suitable for bike riding.

Train car at Little Buffalo State Park
The old rail grade seems to end at the foot of a dam where they have an old train car.

Shoaff's Mill
Another view of Shoaff's Mill. Here are more photos from a site called millpictures.com which manages to get in Scripture verse!

Shoaff's Mill water wheel
A close-up of the huge water wheel driving the mill. See this brief video we made with a great sound. We heard this sound the whole time we were picnicking up the trail a ways.

Shoaff's Mill tour
This young lady gave an excellent tour of the mill. Here's a video from the park site with Mindy, the same guide we had, giving a virtual tour except she's not wearing the mask!!!

Covered bridge in Little Buffalo State Park
The park includes a relocated covered bridge which we never weary of seeing!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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