Fulfillment of Purpose

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
Prov. 22:28 π Lk. 15:7

In perhaps his most damning indictments of the university (or rather one should say, indictments of that thing the modern university has devolved into and settled for becoming), Allan Bloom, a professor of political philosophy at universities like Cornell and Chicago for 30 years, wrote, "On the portal of the humanities is written in many ways and many tongues, 'There is no truth - at least here.'" (The Closing of the American Mind, 1987, p. 372) He also said, "[The] undecided student is an embarrassment to most universities, because he seems to be saying, 'I am a whole human being. Help me to form myself in my wholeness and let me develop my real potential,' and he is the one to whom they have nothing to say." (Bloom, p. 339) The university, founded as the bulwark of Enlightenment philosophy and science, the institution to which one is supposed to turn so as to find one's life's work, comes up empty-handed where truth and wholeness are at stake.

Consider also Bloom's observations about the typical university's treatment of the Bible:

"The contents of the classic books have become particularly difficult to defend in modern times, and the professors who now teach them do not care to defend them, are not interested in their truth. One can most clearly see the latter in the case of the Bible. To include it in the humanities is already a blasphemy, a denial of its own claims. There it is almost inevitably treated in one of two ways: It is subjected to modern 'scientific' analysis, called the Higher Criticism, where it is dismantled, to show how ?sacred? books are put together, and that they are not what they claim to be. It is useful as a mosaic in which one finds the footprints of many dead civilizations. Or else the Bible is used in courses in comparative religion as one expression of the need for the 'sacred' and as a contribution to the very modern, very scientific study of the structure of myths.' ...A teacher who treated the Bible naively, taking it at its word, or Word, would be accused of scientific incompetence and lack of sophistication. Moreover, he might rock the boat and start the religious wars all over again, as well as a quarrel with the university between reason and revelation, which would upset comfortable arrangements and wind up being humiliating to the humanities. Here one sees the traces of the Enlightenment's political project, which wanted precisely to render the Bible, and other old books, undangerous. This project is one of the underlying causes of the impotence of the humanities. The best that can be done, it appears, is to teach 'The Bible as Literature,' as opposed to 'as Revelation,' which it claims to be...

"Professors of the humanities have long been desperate to make their subjects accord with modernity instead of a challenge to it. ...there is a furious effort to make [the ancient texts] up-to-date, largely by treating them as the matter formed by some contemporary theory - cultural, historical, economic or psychological. The effort to read books as their writers intended them to be read has been made into a crime, ever since 'the intentional fallacy' was instituted. There are endless debates about methods - among [them] Freudian criticism, Marxist criticism, New Criticism, Structuralism and Deconstructionism, and many others, all of which have in common the premise that what Plato or Dante had to say about reality is unimportant." (Bloom, p. 374-375)

One can readily add that the real bottom-line, least-common denominator of all these forms of criticism is that what God had and has to say about reality is worse than unimportant, it is repugnant and antagonistic to one's ability to live a selfish and evil life! Bloom himself may or may not have believed the truths claimed in the Bible - his book, largely because he is an excellent teacher of the subject at hand, contains many ambiguities that leaves the reader guessing as to his own personal beliefs - but he has put his finger on the animosity that exists under the surface between liberal education and truth, an animosity that, in even Bloom's concept of the university ideal, ought not exist. But yet again we see that the university, particularly the humanities (that is, "the branches of learning concerned with human thought and relations, as distinguished from the sciences; especially, literature, philosophy, the fine arts, history, etc." - Webster) - according to this 30-year university man - offers no useful truths for living, offers nothing to the student who desires merely to be a whole human being and displays its impotence (and simultaneously the impotence of the whole Enlightenment) in its efforts to discard all the old ways as recorded in ancient texts. Solomon warned, "Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set." ( Prov. 22:28 ; top ) The Enlightenment, in spite of its many beneficial scientific advances (note also however those advances that are not so beneficial - weapons of mass destruction, lethal viruses, increased spying capabilities, etc.), where life and the living thereof are concerned, has only succeeded in removing an important road sign from the most critical intersection of the human existence (the intersection where man may meet with God) and the result has been confusion and catastrophic collision ever since. One need only point to Adolph Hitler (as but one albeit extreme example) as a by-product of distorted Nietzschian philosophies to see what havoc has resulted from "rational, enlightened" men (who were spiritually blind nonetheless) tinkering around with the signposts on the road of life!

The Enlightenment is largely viewed as a failure even in worldly philosophical circles. Yet it's underlying premises - that man can successfully reason and experiment his way through life - is tenaciously held to as very few see the need to draw near to God and rely only on His mercy and loving kindness. After all, these are "good people" who (at least in their own opinion) have nothing of which they need to repent. (see Lk. 15:7 ; top ) So long as people turn to an institution that has no truth - and the "church" has largely joined itself to that list - to shape their lives, they have no possibility of becoming truly good people, that is, people with the Spirit of life, love and goodness dwelling within them and changing them ever more into the likeness of Christ. So long as men turn to the reasonings and abilities of men instead of turning in repentance to the Spirit of truth, men can only walk in blindness and spiritual ignorance. The gifts and callings of God will lie untouched and unused as men seek only to fulfill their self's "potential." The real purpose for which each individual was created, will remain unrealized and much real potential for real goodness and even greatness will remain untapped. Men who refuse to draw near to God still wind up the poorer for their arrogance.

Let he who has ears hear.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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