Everett Piper Christian Blog and Commentary


Oklahoma Wesleyan University Commencement Address

Everett Piper, President, December 12, 2008


December 13, 2008 is your commencement day at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. It is a day of celebrating accomplishments. It is a day of contemplating beginnings.  It is a day of joy, a day of family, day of friends. Today is a day to remember.   I don’t know about you but I am passionate about this day.  Let me tell you why…


It’s because I am a believer. I believe in education.


I believe that the best education is that which is tested by time, confirmed by experience, validated by reason, and ultimately grounded in Scripture.  


I believe that the academy is the gate keeper of our individual virtue and our national conscience. I believe that all intellectual and moral training must be anchored in our Creator who endows us with the rights of life and liberty and that if we build education on any foundation but Him we will lose our conscience and shortly thereafter lose our freedom, our joy, and our ability to pursue happiness. 


I believe that our future lies in the hearts and minds of today’s students and that all cultures are but one generation away from irrelevancy and extinction.


I believe that what is taught today in the classroom will be practiced tomorrow in our churches, our companies, our communities and our country at large.


I believe in absolutes and that if we don’t teach them, learn them, and cherish them that we will be cast about by every wave of human desire, political promise, and selfish ambition.


I believe in Oklahoma Wesleyan University because of its mission: A mission set deep in the immutable and unshakable, the permanent and true.  Oh it may not have all the bells and whistles of other schools but it does have other attributes such as honor, integrity, virtue, temperance or perhaps patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.


I believe in OWU because surely there must be more to education than just passing along a few facts and figures and opinions to our young people.  Maybe just maybe the best education rises above the theories of Dewey and Darwin and Derrida to a way and a truth and a life that is found only in Christ.


I am a believer. 


Education has changed my life and it has changed my family.  With it God has not only given me a career but he has opened my mind, changed my behavior, challenged my character, confronted my sin, and saved my soul.  He has broken the pattern of the generations that preceded me, taken me off of the prodigal path, and shown me the joy of choosing the road less traveled.  Whether I be poor and unemployed or rich with a predictable paycheck, education is a treasure to me.  It has proven to be the gold given by God that serves as his currency for purchasing the incorruptible riches of his truth. 


Today, as you graduate, I leave you with one word: Believe.


Believe in the liberal arts - an education that is driven by the hunger for answers rather than the protection of opinions; an education that is not subject to the ebb and flow of personal agendas or political fads; an education that is not afraid to put all ideas on the table because there is confidence that in the end we will embrace what is true and discard what is false.


Believe in liberty because the best education is one that indeed liberates. It liberates us from the consequences of those things that are wrong and frees us to live within the beauty of those things that are right.


Believe in integration and that truth cannot be segregated into false dichotomies but it is an integrated whole where you cannot and should not separate personal life from private life, the head from the heart, fact from faith, or belief from behavior.


Believe in Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  Believe in its Mission.  Believe in its Message.


Believe in the Primacy of Jesus Christ and that he is the beginning and the end, the way the truth and the life, the great I AM, the word become flesh, Emanuel – God with us, your savior and your king, your Lord and your God, the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God, your redeemer, your guide, your peace, your joy, your comfort, your life, your light! Believe that he is risen and incarnate: the son of God, the alpha and omega, the lens of all learning and the Lord of our daily lives.


Believe in the Bible. That it is true.  Not transient. That it is inspired.  Not constructed. That it is accurate. Not relative. That it is not to be added to or subtracted from. That it is to be hidden in your heart and proclaimed with your mouth. That it is given by inspiration and breathed by God himself.  That it is the inerrant, infallible, and authoritative written word of God that guides us in all matters of faith, learning and living.


Believe in Practicing Wisdom. Practice what you preach. Be men and women of integrity.  Work out your faith with fear and trembling.  Not as though you have already attained all this.  If you love him you will obey him. What good is it if you call him Lord and Lord and do not do what he says?  Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you mine by what I do.  Remember the words of Dietrich Boenhoffer: that only those who believe obey but only those who obey believe



Believe in Truth - the Logos - the Tao - the natural law - the revelation of God. Understand that there are self-evident truths that no human being can deny. Believe that such truths are revealed by God not constructed by man, that they are objective and attainable, immutable and constant.  Believe that truth gives salvation to the damned and freedom to the slave.  Be energized by the unapologetic pursuit of truth. Wherever it leads be confident in the words, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”  Freedom: the antithesis of slavery. Slavery: the unavoidable outcome of lies - Lies about who we are as people - lies about what is right and what is wrong - Lies about man and lies about God.


Doesn’t the lesson of history tell us that when we exchange the truth of God for a lie that we build a house of cards that will fall to mankind's inevitable temper tantrum of seeking control and power? Time and time again we see that when we deny what is right and true and embrace what is wrong and false that we inevitably fall prey to the rule of the gang or the tyranny of one. We need look no further than to the lessons of Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Robespierre for such evidence.

Here is a question: Are we really free today or are we now becoming more and more enslaved by the constructs of the Uberminsch – The  superman – the power brokers, the elites, the ‘fittest” who have survived in the political arenas of campaigns or campuses?  Are we free to live within the boundaries of truth that come from a classical liberal education, of the uni-versity – uni-verities – uni-veritas, or are we becoming more and more bound by group think, political correctness, and populous power - what M.Scott Peck calls the diabolical human mind?

You see I believe education – complete education – liberal education must be grounded in the conservative respect for and the conservation of what is right and just and real. It should seek to reclaim what has been co-opted and to reveal what has been compromised.  It should be free of intimidation and should honor open inquiry.  It should have confidence in the measuring rod of Truth, that unalienable standard that is bigger and better than the crowd or the consensus.

Education, good liberal arts education, is the business of pursuing Truth.  It isn’t about just getting a job or furthering your career. It isn’t about constructing opinions.  It’s about choosing to obey God rather than trying to become god.   


So Today, as we watch the consequences of bad ideas play themselves out on the nightly news, on Pennsylvania Avenue, on Wall Street and on main street, be a believer.


Believe in the power of ideas.  Recognize the obvious: That maybe good ideas lead to that which is good and maybe bad ideas lead to that which is bad.


Believe in the power of learning and that acquiring the ability discern between good and bad and right and wrong actually serves to open the mind rather than close it.


Believe in the Power of Scripture. Believe in the Pursuit of Truth.  Believe in the Practice of Wisdom.  Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. 


Believe in Education. 


Lord we believe – Help our unbelief!




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