Thoughts on Degrees and Accreditation - Uchee Pines

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

We thank you for your interest in our educational program. The subject of degrees and accreditation has perplexed Seventh-day Adventists ever since the Church undertook the task of providing an education for its youth.

Because of the desire to receive accreditation and to offer degreed programs, Battle Creek was not able to follow precisely the “divine blueprint.” Compromise was made in order to meet state approval.

Due to the problems perpetuated, Ellen White in 1903 wrote, “As I consider the state of things in Battle Creek, I tremble for our youth who go there. The light given me by the Lord, that our youth should not go to Battle Creek to receive their education, has in no particular changed.” 8T 227.

“There is great need of elevating the standard of righteousness in our schools, to give instruction after God’s order. Should Christ enter our institutions for the education of the youth, he would cleanse them as he cleansed the temple, banishing many things that have a defiling influence. Many of the books which the youth study would be expelled, and their places would be filled with others that would inculcate substantial knowledge, and abound in sentiments which might be treasured in the heart, in precepts that might govern the conduct.” CT 25.

“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. Neither are we to follow the routine of worldly schools. The instruction given in Seventh-day Adventist schools is to be such as to lead to the practice of true humility. In speech, in dress, in diet, and in the influence exerted, is to be seen the simplicity of true godliness.” CT 56.

“God has revealed to me that we are in positive danger of bringing into our educational work the customs and fashions that prevail in the schools of the world. If teachers are not guarded, they will place on the necks of their students worldly yokes instead of the yoke of Christ. The plan of the schools we shall establish in these closing years of the message is to be of an entirely different order from those we have instituted.” CT 532.

“No argument is so powerful as is success founded on simplicity. You may attain success in the education of students as medical missionaries without a medical school that can qualify physicians to compete with the physicians of the world. Let the students be given a practical education. The less dependent you are upon worldly methods of education, the better it will be for the students.” 9T 175.

In view of the magnitude of the task before us, and in consideration of the shortness of time, Ellen White repeatedly urged the necessity of a speedy preparation. She recommended “medical evangelistic tours among the towns and villages.” Such a vision can be fulfilled by only trained workers. You cannot “afford to spend years in preparation,” she pleaded. “Workers—gospel medical missionaries are needed now.” But how were they to be trained? “‘There should be companies organized, and educated most thoroughly to work as nurses, as evangelists, as ministers, as canvassers, as gospel students, to perfect a character after the divine similitude.’ To prepare to receive the higher education in the school above, is now to be our purpose.” Loma Linda Messages, p. 69.

It is not that God has no use for dedicated workers who have received degrees. Humble men of letters can be of service, for the Lord is going to cut His work short in righteousness by whatever means He can use. “Young men and young women, gather a stock of knowledge. Do not wait until some human examination pronounces you competent to work, but go out into the highways and hedges, and begin to work for God. Use wisely the knowledge you have. Exercise your ability with faithfulness, generously imparting the light that God gives you. Study how best to give to others peace and light and truth and the many other rich blessings of heaven. Constantly improve. Keep reaching higher and still higher. It is the ability to put to the tax the powers of mind and body, ever keeping eternal realities in view, that is of value now. Seek the Lord most earnestly, that you may become more and more refined, more spiritually cultured. Then you will have the very best diploma that anyone can have—the endorsement of God.” 7T 281.

Uchee Pines Institute came into existence for the purpose of providing such a training as the foregoing calls for. Its founders were encouraged by others who pioneered the way. Ellen White herself was a strong promoter of Madison College, which was, for years, a self-supporting, unaccredited school that became the mother of scores of satellite institutions. The objections and obstacles that arise from time to time are nothing new. They are as old as Christendom. The work that Jesus conducted was itself a self-supporting venture. His right to be a teacher and a healer was often challenged: “By what authority doest thou these things?” “How knoweth this man letters having never learned?” There was no place for Him in the “regular lines.” His hospital was wherever He happened to be; on the mountain, in the fields, or beside the sea. His “students” were sent out on missionary tours setting an example of true medical missionary work. The Holy Spirit blessed their ministry. “Even the devils were subject” unto them! Although they had been sent forth without purse or script, they were able to testify that they lacked nothing.

We aspire to fill the “heavenly vision.” “Let little companies go forth to do the work to which Christ appointed His disciples. Let them labor as evangelists, scattering our publications, and talking of the truth to those they meet. Let them pray for the sick, ministering to their necessities, not with drugs, but with nature’s remedies, and teaching them how to regain health and avoid disease.” 9T 172. “God will send forth into His vineyard many who have not been dedicated to the ministry by the laying on of hands.” AA 110.

“The Lord employs various instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose; and while some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in soul-saving. There is a large field open before the self-supporting gospel worker. Many may gain valuable experience in ministry while toiling a portion of the time at some form of manual labor; and by this method strong workers may be developed for important service in needy fields.” AA 355.

The great Apostle Paul was at times obliged to support himself by making tents. William Carey, the famous pioneer of the gospel in India, cobbled shoes for a living.

The call for workers exceeds our capacity to train them. Some go to other self-supporting institutions, some venture out on their own. Some have gone out to assist physicians who are seeking to establish rural health conditioning centers. We get frequent calls from ministers who need help in health evangelism, five-day stop smoking plans, and cooking schools. We count it a privilege to be one of those little healing streams which merge into others to cover the earth as the water covers the sea.

For more information contact:
Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center
30 Uchee Pines Road #75
Seale, Alabama 36875
Tel. 334-855-4764