By Sara Foss.
Patrick Henry College
Dr. Graham Walker, President
Each semester, the leadership of Patrick Henry College chooses a book or books of the Bible to read throughout the thrice-weekly corporate chapel services. These passages are prayerfully chosen in order to shape and inform the conversation and growth of the student body over the term. This semester, students are reading through the Gospel according to John.
During Friday’s message, President Dr. Graham Walker, picked up where Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris left off in John 1, exhorting students again to orient themselves on Jesus, as the only end to existence, and certainly to any earthly accomplishments.
Walker stressed that despite the Christ-oriented worldview and education of PHC students, they can easily fall into the "logo-centric," or knowledge and words-focused, temptations of Academia. According to Walker, this logo-centricity comes in two major forms, “Noetic Idolatry,” and “Noetic Blasphemy,” with “noetic” being simply “knowledge.”
Through an elite liberal arts education, Patrick Henry College seeks to cultivate a love for knowledge in its students, yet Dr. Walker warned against valuing knowledge only as an end in itself.
"You can become more impressed by words and word usage than by the things the words describe," he said. While words are the tools of the academic trade, Christian intellectuals must beware constantly “stopping to examine ourselves in the intellectual mirror.”
Walker cautioned Christian conservatives not react against this academic temptation by fearing and rejecting knowledge, committing Noetic Blasphemy by treating education as only a means for financial gain. Walker reminded his listeners that Daniel and his fellow exiles were tested and found to be 10 times better than their peers, not only in knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, but in all the literature and knowledge of Babylon. The Word of God was by no means their only knowledge, he observed, but because it was their foundation they were able to lead and shape the greatest civilization of their day.
Finally, Walker reminded students not to cocoon themselves away from the world, downplaying what they know to be true by prefacing assertions with conditional statements such as, “I just feel like.”
“There is no fact which is a threat to God,” Walker reminded the students. “All facts are ultimately on God’s side.”
It is safe to ask questions, to be confident in absolute truth, and even to appreciate the beauty of a well-turned phrase, as long as we remain focused on Jesus.
"John 1 undercuts the temptations of Academia,” Walker said, “Because the Word turns out to be a man. Truth is a person."