Published On: Mon, Jan 8th, 2018

The Enduring Value Of Wisdom

Photo Courtesy Rick Alovis

Rudolfs Dainis Smits

“Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.” – C.S. Lewis. According to this quote, values we need are taught to prepare us for life, business and professional careers. Sadly, in many instances this is no longer true.
Harvard University (originally New College), founded in 1636, is America’s oldest corporation. It was renamed in 1638 after the Rev. John Harvard, who started the college for training clergy. Facades of Harvard’s historic buildings contain a chiseled stone shield including three symbolic books (two arranged facing up and one facing down) with the inscription, “VERITAS,” which means “truth.” John Amos Comenius, considered the father of modern education, developed an education methodology there that systemized the pursuit of truth as revealed through the Scriptures, nature (science), and reason. The third book in this shield is respectfully turned face down representing the limits of man’s reason. (This is described in The Harvard Wall by Gary Brumbelow.)
 
Harvard University has since abandoned this tradition and become a secular institution that no longer adheres to these ideas. The shield has been redesigned; that third book now faces upward, and the inscription, “for Christ and the church” has been removed. Harvard’s historic building facades, however, remain unchanged, testifying to this lost heritage – the value of wisdom and the pursuit of truth in God: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
 
Proverbs 1:1-7 declares that to know wisdom and instruction, to understand and gain insight, and to receive instruction in wise dealings and righteousness, justice and equity must begin with the fear of God. Scripture teaches that the pursuit of all learning, knowledge and gained wisdom is revealed through the knowledge of God (Scripture); nature (study of science and God’s creation), and through Reason (the instrument of logic).
 
Values are essential for defining who we are and foundational to culture and society. Business and commerce are controlled by accepted standards and values. If these principles are ignored, they will lead to our demise. As C.S. Lewis stated, “A dogmatic belief in objective values is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.”
 
Wisdom that values truth found in Scripture. A successful business or organization must maintain vision, mission and a value system for its employees to follow and to benefit its clients and customers. Our work and professional practice will be valued and remain relevant if we operate within the framework of biblical principles that protect the rights, relationships and well-being of our partners, employees, colleagues and customers.

Wisdom that values truth in science (nature). Successful businesses uphold common law and best practices that include justice of exchange, fair prices, and value character and integrity in relationships and professional dealings. “Ajust balance and scales are the Lord‘s; all the weights in the bag are his work” (Proverbs 16:11).
Wisdom that values reason that yields to God. The Bible tells the famous story of King Solomon who, when offered riches and power, chose wisdom instead. Later in life Solomon diverged from the path of truth. He ceased to cherish wisdom over wealth. He compromised truth, wisdom and knowledge in his pursuit of riches, horses and women, and eventually violated the very principles that made him a wise king and leader. He lost the fear of God and the kingdom with it. The lessons shown in 1 Kings 11:10-12 are important ones we should heed.
© 2018. Rudolfs Dainis Smits, an architect & business owner. He currently is design & technical manager for Hill International, a pProject and construction risk management company. He is former chairmen and board member of CBMC Latvia; founding member of Reformed Baltic Theological Seminary, Riga, Latvia, and a former Europartners board member.

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  1. Joshua S. says:

    Hi Rudolfs,

    I love this article and everything it stands for. As a recent FAU grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy—I completely empathize, as my studies focused on logic and the preservation of truth and the discovery of new truths, even. However, since graduating and looking for a career, one quickly realizes that there is no room for intellectuals in modernity. Most don’t find the value in these principles and therefore deem individuals who love wisdom as unemployable.

    What I find most important in this whole piece is the fact that individuals have turned their back on God. It wasn’t until I started dabbling in Philosophy that my relationship to God was rediscovered through deep readings of thinkers like Kierkegaard, for example.

    It would be great if businesses sought these characteristics in employees regularly.

    Best,
    JS

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