To the Task

To the board, faculty, students, and friends of Comeford College – greetings and welcome to this 2nd convocation service.

By God’s good graces we finished our first year and are about to embark on another. We may lack the sophistication and trimmings of larger institutions, but we are resolved, by faith, to forge ahead on the course we have started.

If it be His good pleasure, we shall continue to grow through these humble beginnings, and flourish in our attempt to grow this institution into something that is for the good of our people and our community, and to His glory.

Recently I’ve been reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury which was first published in 1950.

artwork by Jim Steranko

It’s a so-called fix-up novel which means that many of its chapters were originally published as stand-alone stories.

Later, A representative from Doubleday & Company publishing house convinced Bradbury to turn his collection of stories into a novel.

It fits somewhere in the dystopian / apocalyptic fiction genre.

One summary of the book says,

“it projects American society immediately after World War II into a technologically advanced future where the amplification of humanity’s potentials to create and destroy have both miraculous and devastating consequences.”

I haven’t finished the book yet, but I couldn’t help thinking about our culture today as I read the chapter titled “The Earth Men.”

The story takes place in August 2030. It tells about four American astronauts that lead an expedition to Mars. It is actually the second such expedition, but you’ll have to read the book to see what happened to the first one.

These astronauts have arrived on Mars expecting great fanfare and celebration. Instead, they are met with extreme indifference and annoyance.

At each encounter with a Martian, they are sent away and referred to another who will be able to help them. Finally, they are sent to Mr. Iii who, while annoyed, agrees to help them. The earth captain tries again to get Mr. Iii to see how momentous this occasion is. Mr. Iii, like the rest, isn’t impressed and hands the captain a paper to sign and instructs him to spend the night in a house down the street. The captain asks if the other men need to sign which strangely causes Mr. Iii to burst into a laughing fit.

The men leave Mr. Ill laughing and proceed to the house. When they enter, they discover numerous Martians lounging about and, after revealing they are from Earth, are greeted with much enthusiasm. The earthmen are exhilarated to finally find someone who appreciates what they’ve accomplished.

But they soon sense something isn’t right. The Martians start making strange claims of their own. Some claim that they too are from Earth. A few say they come from Saturn. It slowly dawns on the Earthmen that they have been sent to an insane asylum and they are trapped there.

It turns out that Martians use telepathy to communicate and they can cause others to see what’s in their mind including their hallucinations. This is what all the previous Martians assumed was going on with the captain. They assumed he was crazy and projecting his delusions on them. This is why Mr. Iii laughed so hard when the captain asked if his men should sign. How can hallucinations sign anything?

After a bizarre night in the asylum another Martian by the name of Mr. Xxx arrives who is psychologist. He agrees with Mr. Iii that the captain is the only real person and the other astronauts and their spaceship are just extremely advanced hallucinations that the captain is telepathically projecting.

He is so sure of his assessment that even after he has gone through the spaceship touching, tasting, hearing, and seeing it – he can only marvel at how complex the captain’s delusion is to create so many realistic hallucinations.

Of course, the captain is loudly protesting that he is quite sane, and all these things are very real, but to no avail.

Mr. Xxx, after finishing his diagnosis, concludes that the only cure for the captain’s delusion is euthanasia which is an option the captain inadvertently agreed to when he signed papers with Mr. Iii.

Mr. Xxx is quite positive all the captain’s hallucinations will disappear once he is dead and so he shoots him. But, to his surprise, the other men and spaceship are still present after the captain is dead. He can’t believe how powerful these hallucinations are. He proceeds to shoot the other astronauts and destroy the ship but they don’t vanish as he expects.

This perplexes Mr. Xxx even more and he finally concludes that the captain’s insanity must have somehow infected him. He decides that he too is beyond cure and so he takes his gun and shoots himself dead.

This story while humorous is also tragic.

In some ways, it illustrates the kind of madness that is taking over our culture and why institutions like Comeford College are needed.

We live in a time when the sane are called delusional and vice versa.

A modern-day version of George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” is busy purging us of our history and fabricating stories to replace it.

We are told to trust the science. A boy can be a girl and a girl can be a boy. You can select from more than 50 different gender options in your Face Book profile. A baby is only a baby if its parents say it is. Entire societies shut down because a “pandemic” is raging that has a 99.8% survivability rate.

Racism is systemic and Whites need to repent of their privilege.

For nearly a century we’ve been told regularly the earth has ten to twenty years left before climate change becomes irreversible and destroys the planet. Our President declared this week that “The climate crisis is here.”

Our most lauded, Nobel prize winning, scientists claim there is no god while suggesting that our existence is nothing more that some alien world’s version of the Matrix.

We could demonstrate countless ways that man has believed the Serpent’s original seed of doubt when he said to Eve, “Has God said?”

Indeed, the prophet Isaiah’s declaration that all we like sheep have gone astray rings just as true today as it did then.

The notion that truth can be divided into your truth and my truth, or that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, or that good is a relative term, are all lies that are now part of our “common wisdom.”

Political leaders artfully sugar-coat facts. Our recent chaotic exit from Afghanistan is deemed an “extraordinary success” by our Commander-in-Chief. Government keeps devising schemes to “help the poor” that are in fact forms of theft.

It gets only crazier. One city in the Bay area has de-criminalized thefts of goods valued at $1000 or less. Not surprising, petty crime is on the increase.

This same city has launched a pilot program where they pay gang members $300 per month to not shoot someone or be shot. There are other incentives which can increase the monthly payout to $500.

Now, lest I depress you further with all this doom and gloom, let me mention that there are some bright spots.

The Supreme Court just let stand a new law in Texas that outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. We are beginning to see rays of hope that Roe v Wade will someday be struck down.

Perhaps you have felt at little bit like you are talking to Martians these days who just can’t accept the realty in front of them.

Like the earthmen in the Chronicles, those who speak the truth are rejected as being a danger to themselves and to others.

The purpose in rehearsing all this insanity is to remind ourselves that the only hope for any culture is the gospel going forth via Christ’s disciples.

Ironically, so-called intellectuals see education as the way to solve social ills even though the education they provide is creating much of the problems they are trying to solve.

Comeford College, and colleges like it, serve as important parts in the discipleship making process.

Most colleges have lost sight of true education and have placed their emphasis on utilitarianism.

As Margarita Mooney in The Love of Learning puts it, “Educational institutions are under tremendous pressure today to demonstrate their relevance for one or another economic or political end.”

She goes on to say,

“Education should not seek to produce quasi-robots who have lost the desire for connecting the material world with the sublime. A good education reveals to students how things work and also guides them to perceive the beauty behind all things.”

I have said it before, any education that does not result in appreciation and worship of the Creator falls far short, however utilitarian it may be for this life, and that schooled person who does not worship God will ultimately be deemed a fool no matter how many degrees he holds. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?

As we prepare to enter our second year, we are excited to continue exploring not just the how but the why in our world. We do that through the means of a Christian Classical Liberal Arts education.

Many in academia today poo-poo the value of such an education. Those in the Woke crowd dismiss it as elitist and steeped in “whiteness”.

If that is true, why did 19th century black leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington all praise the classics for their ability to speak to all people? The notion that classical liberal arts are only for those who wish to perpetuate white supremacy is nonsense.

The reason classical liberal arts and, in particular, Christian classical liberal arts has fallen out of favor, is because our educational institutions have abandoned God and now trust solely in human reason.

They don’t understand that human reason alone is seriously impaired by sin and needs the light of the gospel to be able to order its thoughts aright.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn summarized how communism and its horrors came to be by saying, “Men have forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.”

Carl Truman, in his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, argues that the sexual revolution of the past 60 years is simply a manifestation of the larger revolution of the self that has taken place in the West.

According to Truman, in this revolution of self, it has become necessary not simply to deviate from historical moral norms, but to repudiate them and deem them relics of outdated social practices and to treat those who defend them as having a “serious mental or moral deficiency.”

All efforts to divorce from Western Civilization history, and in particular its Christian component, is akin to a river cutting itself off from its head waters. The result is a dry and parched landscape.

There is but one logical outcome from this trend and it is complete nihilism, the conclusion that life is ultimately meaningless.

And yet, for all the criticism that is hurled at our cultural past, its critics continue to enjoy the benefits that come from it. Eating the fruit of our heritage while condemning the tree is ludicrous at best.

There are so many tangents once could follow at this point. For instance, the impossibility of imposing binding moral standards apart from a transcendent law giver. Time doesn’t allow us to pursue them.

Comeford College gladly stands apart and opposed to modern trends to sow doubt about our past in the minds of students.

We embrace the river of history God has placed us in while recognizing the sins of the past. We wish to learn from, and build upon, what our fathers learned and accomplished, and excel still more.

There is no reason to believe that the greatest human discoveries and achievements lie behind us. How might God use the man or woman whose heart, mind, and strength are singularly devoted to him?

What mysteries are left to uncover. What medical cures, what scientific discoveries?

But why should our Maker reveal these things to those who use the heavenly gift of knowledge to try and deny Him?

Solomon reminds us that “to the one who pleases him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy..” Ecclesiastes 2:26

In Proverbs he declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

Is it any wonder that science has become scientism, the religion of our age? Without the fear of the Lord our fount of knowledge is cut off. It is only by His common grace that the fool knows anything.

True science begins and ends with an understanding of who God is. In the book The Soul of Science, Nancy Pearcey wrote,

“The Christian religion, hand in hand with various philosophical outlooks, has motivated, sanctioned, and shaped large portions of the Western scientific heritage. Modern Christians ought to drink deeply at the well of historical precedent. If we do, we will never feel intimidated by positivists and others who deny that religion has any role in genuine scholarship.”

For those present today I realize I am largely preaching to the choir. You see the foolishness of the age and concur that only a manifold expression of gospel witness will combat it. To this point I assume we all concur.

But some might ask what can Comeford College with its few students hope to accomplish? If ever there was an ignorable endeavor surely this is it.

Its board is made up of a hodge-podge of a few men, several who hold no degree at all. None of its faculty have achieved a doctorate in anything. No agency has accredited it and almost no one knows it exists. No employer is likely to acknowledge the diploma it confers. Add to that its religious nature and it is thoroughly out of step with what the culture is looking for. Its graduates are likely to be labeled “homophobic”, “transphobic”, anti-everything, un-woke bigots.

It is right in the bullseye of everything our culture hates. And it is exactly what our culture needs in this hour.

We did not start Comeford College because we are awesome. We do not have everything figured out and we are sure to mess things up along the way.

What we do have is the conviction that there is a God in heaven who reigns supreme over all the earth and it is our duty and joy to proclaim him as Lord over each and every sphere of life.

We believe that men and women who hold to these core tenants and whose minds and hearts have been duly prepared, will be the change agents used by Him to bring about the common good of all.

We know we have critics who will laugh and mock and say, “See the wall they are building, even if a fox should jump on it, it will fall down.”

We must not let these critics or even our own self-doubts defeat us. Our power lies not in ourselves.

The Lord is our strength. His might is revealed in our weakness. By the smallest of rag-tag bands he has put large armies to flight. This is not just wishful thinking. He has always worked this way in human history.

Will Comeford College mature into a larger, more robust, college with lots of students? Will it be the right kind of goad and guide in our community? Only God knows. All we can do is believe, pray, and work to that end.

My hope and prayer is that, should it not succeed, it will because of His will and not our faithlessness. That hope is reflected in something the theologian Philip Jacob Spener wrote in the 17th century. He wrote,

“let us not abandon all hope before we have set our hands to the task. Let us not lay down our rod and staff if we do not have the desired success at once. What is impossible for men remains possible for God. Eventually God’s hour must come, if only we wait for it.”


Our Reason for Being

Good evening and welcome to our inaugural convocation service for Comeford College!

Lord willing, this will be the first of many such gatherings. If I recall correctly, it was somewhere around May of last year that a small group assembled to discuss starting Comeford College. Even before that the idea had been percolating in the minds of a few for several years.

So, what on earth would possess these individuals to be so audacious as to launch a new college? Isn’t there already an abundance of higher learning institutions to choose from? Yes, and no, it depends on what one means by education and what one is hoping to accomplish with such an education.

It also depends on whether you wish to flourish where God has established your people, your culture, your loves, and your roots.

It’s customary today to raise children just shy of two decades, then send them off to a far-away college, and ultimately have them plant new roots somewhere else. Our technology driven world makes that easy to do.

Brave New World types envision a global neighborhood where the distinctions of “home” and “our people” lose any meaning. The grand vision is that this will bring people closer together.

The jet-age combined with the internet-age has shrunk our world in many ways and yet, isn’t it ironic in a day when people can digitally share words or pictures faster than the speed of thought – and many do – that we find ourselves less and less connected with our past or present than ever before.

Clearly, disunity and tribalism are on the rise. The days of “boys will be boys” has become “boys will be girls” and vice-versa. At the heart of much of this mayhem lies a deeply broken system of education.

It has been nearly 400 years since the founding of the first university in America. Today there are approximately 5,000 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S.

What has all this “education” brought us? Are we more “enlightened” today than our forefathers were? I submit to you that modern education, for all that is has enabled, falls far short of what true education is for.

In the few moments I have, I would like to answer the question “What is Education For?” and, in doing so, make the case for why Comeford College exists.

To start, I ask that you grant me a simple postulate. If anything that can be known is revealed to us by our heavenly Father, then education, if it indeed be education, must result in worship of the Father.

Any other purpose for education, however useful, is secondary in nature and falls far short of the ultimate aim. One may learn that two plus two equals four and with that, and other bits of knowledge, send a man to the moon; but unless one worships the God who made the moon, one cannot be said to be truly educated.

Did not Christ ask,

“For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul?”

Nothing I have said thus far should be construed so as to cast complete derision upon secular institutions of learning. Even in their limited understanding of education, God’s common grace has allowed much useful learning to occur.

The problem is that their goals fall short. Higher education today serves multiple purposes that can be viewed as a ladder of ascending value to the individual and the culture. All institutions offer one or more of these value propositions. Few achieve the ultimate purpose.

At the lowest level of the value proposition is the claim that higher education is necessary in order to promote good social order. Certainly, a society comprised of uneducated individuals is likely to degenerate over time into disorder and perpetual unrest, or so they say.

The belief is that a good education will necessarily produce a good citizen; one who will play nice with others and be a productive member. The emphasis is on fitting in to the collective without disturbing the social order or being a burden to it.

And so, we urge young men and women to get a degree even if that degree ultimately ends up being needless. The reality is that few will have use for their degree once they land their first job. A can of Spam has a longer shelf-life, and more uses, than many college degrees today. Higher education for this value proposition alone rarely makes sense.

The next rung up the value proposition ladder is that higher education will result in a better paying job. There is evidence to support this argument although not for the reasons you might expect.

In his book The Case Against Education, economist Bryan Caplan makes the case that the real value in having a college degree is that it is the de facto way to “signal” potential employers as to who will make the best employees. Never mind that up to 40% of most Bachelor degree programs are padded with classes of questionable value.

Employers are not as interested in what you know as in knowing that you have the grit to slog your way through four years or more of higher education. They will teach you what you really need to know when you start your new job.

The problem with this educational goal is that the course of study, excluding the fluff-n-stuff classes, is so limited in scope that all it does is prepare the student to fill a useful slot in society. The student misses out on seeing, let alone discussing, the kaleidoscope of thoughts and ideas that make up the cultural river they swim in.

This narrow teach-to-the-job education prevents students from having enough range in their knowledge base to draw solutions and applications from other fields outside their area of study.

Fragmented, or siloed, education is like having a box of tinker toys with all the wheel parts and none of the sticks. Nothing fits together.

With the get-a-job value proposition the fact remains that a highly educated cog, in the end, is still just a cog. Education that does not rise beyond this goal is a stunted education.

As we continue our ascent up the proposition ladder, we come to the claim that higher education produces leaders.

How often do you hear the claim that colleges produce critical thinkers? Today, if a college invites a controversial guest speaker, you will notice that the students are far more critical than thinking.

This lack of thinking skills shows up in the current trend of tearing down statues and renaming things. In so doing, they fail to see the irony of standing on the bruised shoulders of their forbearers as they criticize them.

This leadership claim assumes that by virtue of the fact that a person has endured the rigors of a multi-year program that they somehow are now imbued with the qualities of a leader. They mistake qualities like hard work and stick-to-itiveness with true leadership ability.

The notion that higher education equals leadership is so prevalent that it is difficult for anyone without a degree to climb the corporate ladder. A degree is often used as a filter to keep the “non-leader” types out.

One advantage Comeford College offers over most modern colleges is its training to be a true leader. It does that by offering a classical liberal arts program which learns from, and builds upon, the great ideas that define Western Civilization.

It recognizes that God has worked through imperfect people to bring us to where we are today. Rather than erase history we see it as beneficial to informing our future.

Any education that does not teach “When” cannot properly prepare you for “Then”. Given the rapidity with which our culture is decoupling itself from the past we must ask ourselves, “If Western Civilization ever collapses will anyone remember how it was built?”

This is a serious question given today’s focus on producing specialists who are devoid of any real appreciation for the landscape of our nation and culture.

A modern college degree might assist you to the hilltop of your chosen profession, but a fuller education will take you to the mountain top overlooking those hills.

We would do well to learn from Israel’s history. It took less than 100 years from when the people declared to Joshua,

“Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods” to the time it was said of them “there arose another generation…who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done…”

This brings us to the top rung of the education ladder which I stated before is to worship the Triune God.

There is a reason that Theology was once called the Queen of the Sciences. It is only as we learn about God, from the bottom up through Nature and human history, and the top down through his Word that we can properly order our understanding of all things.

Albert Einstein, in response to Thomas Edison’s claim that a college education is useless said,

“It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

I doubt the “something” Einstein had in mind was God, but he was certainly right that a proper classical liberal arts education, altogether unlike today’s liberal arts indoctrination, trains the mind to comprehend what cannot be learned from books alone.

In 1889 Abraham Kuyper gave the convocation speech to the Free University in Amsterdam, which he founded just nine years earlier.

The title of his speech was “The Secret of Genuine Study.” In the speech he put forth this question, “What should be the goal of university study and the goal of living and working in the sacred domain of scholarship?”

In his lengthy answer he made the following statement:

“(God) created us as logical beings in order that we should trace his Logos, investigate it, publish it, personally wonder at it, and fill others with wonder.”

Why does Comeford College exist?

We exist to help believers reach the pinnacle of education which is the worship of God in spirit and truth, full of wisdom, knowledge, and love, so that they will flourish in their place among the generations of their people.