Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday's Meditation: Love of Knowledge, or Knowledge of Love?

With each passing day the image becomes more vivid: Jesus dancing with delight, rejoicing at the success of his disciples and the cluelessness of the “wise and the learned.” What kind of God celebrates when smart people are clueless?

It’s perhaps foolish to present three posts on the same subject within eight days, but so far I’ve been unable to deliver the baby. Last Monday: “An omniscient God is not impressed with the size of our intellect” Thursday: “What if our approach to following Jesus is fueled by the world’s idea of wisdom?” And today I wonder still whether we have chosen a worldly method to pursue the King of Heaven.

The spirit of this age respects knowledge. It’s a given. Knowledge trumps ignorance. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is self-authenticating. When we bring the spirit of this age to our study of Scripture we emphasize the texts which serve the value of knowledge. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge . . .” How many books have opened with Hosea 4:6 as a call to study?

We have loved knowledge since the Garden of Eden. Perhaps we have loved knowledge more than we have loved our Creator. In our day the western church presents a view of discipleship based upon ever-increasing knowledge, and Christianity becomes a subject to be mastered. As a result those who are smartest become the best disciples. The spirit of this present age tells us knowledge is good because it is knowledge. But what if the smartest among us know nothing of love?

Yet woven into the fabric of the Biblical witness is the still small voice of relationship. It warns of the dangers of knowledge. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” comes the whisper. Later on the voice grows: "Where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” We discover the voice coming from Paul’s prayer closet interceding on our behalf, “I pray that you . . . may have power . . . to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Perhaps we can learn from Paul--one of the greatest minds in history--that knowledge can never drive us to love.

Will you join me? I’ll continue meditating as the week goes on: what if true knowledge grows from love, and what if apart from love knowledge cannot be true?


  1. Knowledge is easier, love takes a commitment. People gravitate to knowledge because a relationship with Jesus is hard to define.


  2. Thomas a Kempis said something to the effect of "what good is if it you can discourse on the Trinity, if you do things that are displeasing to the Trinity?" -- though I've not quoted him exactly. Maybe this is something like what you mean, Pastor. It's really, really possible that you mean something else, which is something very, very bad - that cluelessness is a virtue. I say that rebuking people trying to learn **why** they should believe something is very bad, and that if we elevate cluelessness to a virtue, it must of necessity follow that we begin to do this -- the reproving bit.*

    You have spoken favorably of the heart of the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" - do you see that her heart would be wounded by those who would want her, essentially, to be reproved or conditioned into believing something rather than be given teaching that she could either accept or reject?

    Is that not also displeasing to the Trinity -- to offer a shrug and a hug when someone is crying out for wisdom?

    *I offer as evidence exhibit a) - tithing teaching in the Vineyard.

  3. Scott: I love your first sentence. It's a keeper.

    Charles: you are always welcome here. I'm not sure who has reproved you or what you've been taught. I'm truly sorry for whatever hurt you've experienced. Please let me be plain: cluelessness is not a virtue. We're commanded to love Him with our minds as well as our hearts. We should certainly apply ourselves intellectually, and that means asking questions. I've never met Rachel Held Evans, but if I understood the point of her book, she was not allowed to use her very considerable intellect to wrestle with questions openly. I don't know a single person in her world, but I suspect that my post is more about the "wise and learned" who squashed her honest questions with a stifling orthodoxy. These are the ones I believe Jesus was talking about, not her.

  4. Your mention of the Garden of Eden takes me back to something I learned from reading Gene Edwards. He goes into "the two trees" — life, or knowledge? — and how we chose the wrong one, and continue to do so (in the name of Christianity).