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Chapter 24

STUDYING INDIVIDUAL TOPICS

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Section Titles
Principles of Procedure
What Makes Christian Education Different?
Finding Material
SUMMARY
FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
COMPLETION OF A PROJECT

The purpose for gaining a historical background and an understanding of the function of the gift of prophecy is that we may derive the greatest benefit from the instruction given through the messenger. A thorough knowledge builds confidence, and confidence leads to study. Careful study prepares the way for acceptance and obedience.

Nothing will convince one of the inspiration of the messages of Ellen White more than a thorough study of the topics she deals with, and a comparison with the material found in the Bible. There exists throughout the thousands of pages of her writings a unity that is akin to the unity of the Scriptures. Within this unity there is an ever-expanding revelation of spiritual truth. All the truth regarding any topic is not presented in one place. Precept is added to precept in numerous passages and in a variety of settings. No single portion can be fully grasped without a study of all that has been said on the subject. This, of course, is a wise procedure in the consideration of any field of knowledge.

We have come to the place in our study where we will turn our attention more directly to the writings of Ellen White to learn a practical method of study. There are many ways of going about such study, but only one will be presented here. It must be regarded as suggestive and introductory rather than definitive.


Principles of Procedure

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1. Any study of spiritual matters must be approached prayerfully, and with a mind open to receive truth when it is found. Personal prejudices and preconceived ideas must be set aside


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if they do not harmonize with the truth that one discovers.

2. Both the Bible and the Ellen White writings must be included in any study so that one may be certain that all his knowledge is in accord with Scripture.

3. A thorough study must be made of all relevant material so that nothing is overlooked that would contribute to an understanding of the topic.

4. Each statement or passage must be considered in its context, so that its meaning will be rightly represented.

5. The principles involved in any instruction should be discovered, so that they may be applied in varied situations or circumstances.

It will be worth while to refer again to chapter 23, which deals in a general way with principles of study but does not outline a step-by-step procedure for the development of a study topic.

It is beneficial to have in mind a general pattern by which one may be guided as he studies. The remainder of this chapter will be devoted to the development of a topic according to one of the many plans of procedure that might be followed. Here are some of the many topics that might be chosen for study. Most of the subjects have a number of phases, any one of which would be worth investigation.

Suggested Study Topics
Affliction Association Business and Christianity
Ambition Atonement
Amusements Authors,Infidel
Angels and their work Camp meetings
Antichrist Benevolence Character
Anxiety Bible and science Character building
Apostasy, Causes of Bible in education Cheerfulness
Appearance Bible, Understanding the Child training
Appetite Christ (many topics)
Associates Burden bearing Church, The


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Commandments of God Family worship Knowledge
Fashion and display Knowledge of God.
Competition and rivalry Father
Flesh food Labor unions
Confession Forgiveness Last days
Conscience Friendship Latter rain
Consecration Law and gospel
Conversion Games Law of God
Cooking Giving Laymen
Courage Godliness Leaders
Courtesy Grace Leadership
Courtship Lifework
Covetousness Habits Literature
Creation Happiness Love
Criticism Healing Loyalty
Culture Health Lukewarmness
Health reform
Dancing Heaven Mark of the beast
Darkness, Spiritual Heredity Marriage
Debt Higher classes, Reaching Medical missionaries
Deliverance of God's people Holiness Meekness
Despondency Holy Spirit Mind
Diet Home Ministers
Difficulties Honesty Miracles
Dignity Hope Missionary work
Discipline Humility Mothers
Discouragement
Display Idleness Nature
Drama Idolatry Needy, Helping the
Dress Imagination Nerves
Drugs Impatience Nervous system
Impurity New earth
Economy Industry Nurses
Education, Christian Influence
Efficiency Integrity Obedience
Entertainment Intemperance Object lessons
Environment Offerings
Etiquette Jealousy Opinions
Evangelism Jewelry Opportunities
Exercise Judgment Overcoming
Extremes Justification Overwork
Faith Kindness Papacy
Familiarity Kingdom of God Parables


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Parents Reverence Teachers
Parties Righteousness Temperance
Patience Temptation
Peace Sabbath observance Theater
Perfection Satan Thoughts
Physicians Schools Time
Praise and flattery Seal of God Tithe
Prayer Self-control Tobacco
Preaching Self-denial Trials
Pride Selfishness Truth
Principles Service
Privileges Simplicity Unbelief
Probation Sin Unity
Probation, Close of Social life
Prophecy Sorrow Victory
Publishing work Soul winning voice culture
Purity Speech
Spiritism Weakness
Reading Stewardship Will
Recreation Students Work
Redemption Success Worship
Refinement Suffering
Repentance Sympathy Youth
Reproof
Resurrection Talents Zeal

Let us take the general topic of Christian education from the list. It is too broad a subject to deal with in more than a single, restricted aspect of it. We might formulate a list of the objectives of Christian education, or discover what makes Christian education different from secular education. We could investigate the methods by which the goals of Christian education may be achieved, or enumerate some of the subjects that rank high in importance in the program of Christian education. The field is limited only by the needs and interests of the investigator. For the present, let us focus our attention on what it is that makes Christian education different from secular education.

With our topic in mind—“What Makes Christian Education Different?”—we turn to our sources of information. Looking over the Ellen White books, we select three that appear to contain the most information on the subject—Education, Fundamentals


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of Christian Education, and Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students. Another volume that should be consulted in the study is the Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White, for it lists more than nineteen columns of references to education. Rather than look up all these references, or even those that seem most closely related to our topic, it is better to turn to the books on education first to get a unified picture of the subject.

The table of contents in Education indicates that the first four chapters deal with “First Principles,” and the chapter titles seem to show that there is material here on our topic. There is a later group of chapters under the heading of “Character Building” that should make a contribution. The table of contents in Fundamentals of Christian Education lists several chapters that should be read—“Proper Education,” “Thoughts on Education,” “Importance of Education,” “The School of the Ancient Hebrews,” and “The Value of Bible Study.” The same is true of Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students.

As the chapters are read, it becomes apparent that this is not all the light on the topic in hand, but the background they give will make our understanding broader, and our later selection of specific quotations will be more intelligent. As the reading progresses we discover that the chapters in Education deal in broader concepts and principles rather than in some of the details that are presented in the other books. Several statements appear that help us to see the real differences between Christian and secular education: “It means more than a preparation for the life that now is;” “development of … the spiritual powers;” “It is God's own method of development;” “Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education.” We begin to make selections of quotations and we put each with the reference on a slip of paper or a card, perhaps 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 inches.

With this general reading as a background, we are now ready to turn to the Index to find additional information from


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other books. Scanning the columns of the Index, we find a long list of references that should be consulted. Here are a few of them: “Education, apart from Christ, folly to seek; Christ's, gained directly from heaven-appointed sources; Christian, means acceptance of Saviour's teachings; confusion in; defective; deficient unless received in school of Christ; general method of, does not meet standard of true; to direct minds to God's revelation of Himself; should bear different stamp.” One of the last sections is headed: “Education, worldly, false.” At a glance it appears that all the passages referred to in this section should be investigated. Many more entries are made on cards to be considered later.

In gathering the quotations in the fashion described we have proceeded in a way that will give us a basis for organization of the material when that step is reached. First we took an over-all view, and we read more widely than might have been necessary if we merely wanted a collection of quotations. Then we branched out into many books for the contributions they could make. By the time this had been done we found we were forming an outline of what makes Christian education different. The material naturally falls into certain related groups, and now we begin the task of arranging and sorting—arranging the groups, sorting the quotations to find the most pertinent ones, then arranging the selected quotations within the group.

Five points seem to stand out among the many differences that might be noted between Christian and secular education—the purpose, basis, source, methods, and results. If we think for a moment of what is involved in these five items, we will realize that the whole system is different. The five points now form the main divisions of the study outline.

  1. A different purpose.
  2. A different basis.
  3. A different source.
  4. Different methods.
  5. Different results.

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We will need an introductory statement, the details inserted in the outline, and a statement of our conclusions. This might appear to complete the study, but there are still three important items to be considered.

(1) It is helpful to find a single, brief quotation that gives the gist of the study in words that can be easily remembered. This is not possible in every instance; but, usually, if the investigator keeps this in mind throughout his study, he will be able to discover such a sentence. We will call this the key quotation.

(2) What are the principles involved in the solution to the problem? It will seldom be possible to find quotations that state principles as such. Therefore, these will be given in the words of the student.

(3) What is the Bible background for the instruction given? Sometimes a Bible text or group of texts furnishes a specific background. Again, it may be necessary to show the underlying agreement of the statements with the philosophy of the Bible. There is a Bible basis for all the instruction given, and that should be discovered and stated in connection with each topic studied.

These three concluding items will be easier to deal with if they are kept clearly in mind throughout the preparation of the study. They are vital to a carefully planned topic. Now we are ready to organize the study.


What Makes Christian Education Different?

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Introduction: CT 56. “We are rapidly nearing the final crisis in this world's history, and it is important that we understand that the educational advantages offered by our schools are to be different from those offered by the schools of the world.”

I. A different purpose.

A. Ed. 15, 16. “To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the


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divine purpose in his creation might be realized,—this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.”

B. Ed. 225. “True education does not ignore the value of scientific knowledge or literary acquirements; but above information it values power; above power, goodness; above intellectual acquirements, character.”

II. A different basis.

A. Ed. 16. “Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education.”

III. A different source.

A. Ed. 16. “Since God is the source of all true knowledge, it is … the first object of education to direct our minds to His own revelation of Himself.”

B. MH 400. “His [Jesus'] education was gained from Heaven-appointed sources, from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures, from nature, and from the experiences of life—God's lesson books, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing hand, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart.”

C. FE 194. “Daniel did not walk in sparks of his own kindling, but made the Lord his wisdom. Divine philosophy was made the foundation of his education.”

IV. Different methods.

A. PP 595. “All the varied capabilities that men possess—of mind and soul and body—are given them by God, to be so employed as to reach the highest possible degree of excellence…. Every faculty, every attribute, with which the Creator has endowed us, is to be employed for His glory and for the uplifting of our fellow men….

“Were this principle given the attention which its importance demands, there would be a radical change in some of the current methods of education. Instead of appealing to pride and selfish ambition, kindling a spirit of emulation, teachers


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would endeavor to awaken the love for goodness and truth and beauty,—to arouse the desire for excellence.”

B. FE 328. “The general method of educating the youth does not meet the standard of true education. Infidel sentiments are interwoven in the matter placed in schoolbooks, and the oracles of God are placed in a questionable … light.”

C. Ed. 17, 18. “Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator,—individuality, power to think and to do…. It is the work of true education to develop this power; to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen.”

V. Different results.

A. Ed. 18. “Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves of circumstances, men who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions.”

B. CT 434, 435. “Such an education will restore the image of God in the soul. It will strengthen and fortify the mind against temptation, and fit the learner to become a worker with Christ in His mission of mercy to the world. It will make him a member of the heavenly family, prepare him to share the inheritance of the saints in light.”

C. Ed. 19. “As he [the Christian teacher] awakens a desire to reach God's ideal, he presents an education that is as high as heaven and as broad as the universe; an education that cannot be completed in this life, but that will be continued in the life to come; an education that secures to the successful student his passport from the preparatory school of earth to the higher grade, the school above.”


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D. FE 328. “True education is that which will train children and youth for the life that now is, and in reference to that which is to come; for an inheritance in that better country, even in an heavenly.”

Conclusion: CT 56. “Our teachers need to understand the work that is to be done in these last days. The education given in our schools, in our churches, in our sanitariums, should present clearly the great work to be accomplished. The need of weeding from the life every worldly practice that is opposed to the teachings of the word of God, and of supplying its place with deeds that bear the mark of the divine nature, should be made clear to the students of all grades. Our work of education is ever to bear the impress of the heavenly, and thus reveal how far divine instruction excels the learning of the world.”

Key quotation: FE 328. “True education is that which will train children and youth for the life that now is, and in reference to that which is to come; for an inheritance in that better country, even in an heavenly.”

Principles involved: 6T 142. “Altogether too long have the old customs and habits been followed. The Lord would now have every idea that is false put away from teachers and students. We are not at liberty to teach that which shall meet the world's standard or the standard of the church, simply because it is the custom to do so. The lessons which Christ taught are to be the standard. That which the Lord has spoken concerning the instruction to be given in our schools is to be strictly regarded; for if there is not in some respects an education of an altogether different character from that which has been carried on in some of our schools, we need not have gone to the expense of purchasing lands and erecting school buildings.”

Bible background: Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Deuteronomy 6:6, 7: “And these


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words, which I command thee: … thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” 1 Corinthians 1:25: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Colossians 2:3: “In whom [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”


Finding Material

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No index to any set of writings can cover all the topics on which the researcher might want to find comments. While the Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White is helpful and should be used regularly in the gathering of material, it cannot be depended on to list all the references on any subject. It is necessary to think of related topics, and of books in which the desired type of comment might appear. Frequently, a review of the table of contents in some of the books will direct the mind to chapters that should be read. Do not limit the reading to looking for individual sentences or brief paragraphs that might be inserted into the study outline. In every instance read enough of the context to be certain that any selection from it is to be used in accordance with the intent of the author.

On subjects directly connected with a Bible text or series of texts, the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary will prove helpful. In comments on verses will frequently be found references to Ellen White statements on the subject. At the close of the comments on each Bible chapter is an additional list of references. Each volume of the Commentary has at the back of the book a supplement containing further Ellen White comments, drawn from sources not easily accessible, or previously unpublished.

Every serious student of these writings will want to keep a card file in which he will note items he may use in the future. Memory is not reliable enough to recall all that has been read and where an item of particular interest is to be found. It is a


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waste of time and effort to have to go back to look for something that might have been noted easily when it first attracted attention. There is particular value in materials gathered while one is doing general reading. They stand clearly in their context, and may be items that would not be found in an ordinary search.


SUMMARY

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1. The basic unity of the Ellen White writings becomes apparent when one begins to gather material on a particular topic from all the books.

2. There are principles that must be considered in proceeding with topical studies in these books. In general they are the same principles that should be followed in any research project. However, spiritual matters must be approached prayerfully, and the Bible must be given its rightful place as the guide and standard by which all teachings are to be tested.

3. Study topics in the Ellen White books may touch any phase of Christian living, including physical, mental, and spiritual development.

4. In any study program, the gathering of brief quotations from many places must not be permitted to replace consecutive reading for the purpose of grasping the subject as a whole.

5. In connection with each study, attention should be given to certain items, such as a key quotation, principles involved, and Bible background.

6. In finding material for the topic, the Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White, and the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary are particularly helpful.

7. A card file, or some other type of filing system, will save much time, and avoid the loss of important materials needed in the future.


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FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION

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1. What part does prayer play in research on spiritual subjects, or, for that matter, on any subject that is vital to the Christian?

2. Find one or two examples of sentences which, if taken out of their context, would give a different idea than in their natural setting.

3. Select a general subject from the list of suggested topics—for instance, “Home.” Make a list of some of the phases of the subject, each of which might make a topic for study.

4. What type of research would be done if one restricted his gathering of materials to the items specifically listed in the Index?

5. Is it necessary to point to a specific Bible text to prove that there is a Bible background for a line of instruction given in the Ellen White writings?


COMPLETION OF A PROJECT

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In connection with Chapter 14 it was suggested that a project be begun which might be continued for some time—even beyond the time of the present study. If you have been gathering evidences that Ellen White fulfills the Bible tests of a prophet, you should now be ready to come to some conclusions. What are your reactions to what you have found and classified under the headings of the four major tests?



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