Search This Blog

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Seek wisdom not knowledge

"Many will go here and there to increase knowledge" 

Prophecy is fraught....
I do not know if this verse from Daniel 12:4, refers to the present knowledge explosion caused by the Internet, and I'm past trying to figure those sorts of things out. Ever since I read a tract which claimed that the bar-code system was the mark of the beast, I have lost interest in (and any confidence in) trying to interpret prophecy in a specific way....

....but one thing is for sure, "knowledge" has increased phenomenally since the rise of the Internet. I put "knowledge" in inverted commas, because not all the "knowledge" out there is truth. Take Wikipedia for example. Wikipedia produces a skewed secularized version of knowledge. If you were to ask Wikipedia about the origins of western science or modern medicine, it is very unlikely that you would learn anything about the Christian soil that was essential to develop western science and modern medicine (in the latter case, the soil of Christian compassion).

The beauty of knowledge
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, it is even a form of light. To know how a virus works and to know how to avoid it can liberate a whole people from an infectious disease. Knowledge is indeed powerful. In the spiritual realm we are encouraged to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:8), and urged to go beyond milk to meat, from elementary teachings to maturity (Hebrews 5/6).

It is worth stopping here and observing the kind of knowledge we urged to advance in, and here we are coming to nub of this blog. We are urged to grow in knowledge of Christ, which means not only knowledge about him, but knowing him better: growing in relationship with him. We are urged to grow in teaching about righteousness, which is all about distinguishing good from evil, according to Hebrews 5/6: advance in godliness knowledge/experience. And we are urged to grow not only in knowledge but in grace (2 Peter 3:8).

In the world, knowledge is about collecting facts. This guy has a PhD in XYZ and he knows alot about XYZ (normally a whole lot less than he thinks, says or boasts about). In Scripture knowledge is far more relational and ethical, it's about how much you know a Person, how much you know about godly living. 

The beast of knowledge
Knowledge, as defined by the world, the mere collection of facts, is almost completely useless in the kingdom of Christ. Indeed it can often be actually harmful. Why? Because "knowledge puffeth up" (1 Cor 8:1). Here are the two ways knowledge puffs up:

(1) Pure knowledge turns molehills into mountains
So I know tuns of stuff about one subject, and I lament the ignorance of my fellow brothers and sisters - and even leaders! Goodness gracious, why don't they realise the deal on THIS SUBJECT. Where am I going wrong? A volcanic island in the pacific ocean has become a continent in my mind. I think this is the most important subject in the world/church/etc. Why? Because I know about it!

Example: I do tons of research on Halloween and I am convinced it is a wicked festival and Christians should have absolutely nothing to do with it. But my church leaders aren't spending every sermon leading up to Halloween preaching against the evils. And then I learn, horror-of-all-horrors, that one family are sending their kids out trick or treating! So I'm through with that worldly church and I wonder if that family are converted at all (it could of course be that they are very young Christians....)

Where am I going wrong? There may be no doubt that Halloween is devilish, but I have turned a volcanic island of 1 square kilometre into a continent. How has this happened? Because I studied it for hours and hours and hours and hours and became a Mastermind on it.....

(2) Knowledge distorts the issue itself
Suppose I want to discover what translation of the Bible I should use. I spend many hours reading up on the issue and become an 'expert'.  I soon come to the conclusion that the best version is the RFV (Roy's favourite version). With the infinite pages of debate on the subject available I could prove to you (if you had the time or patience) that I was right. Of course, I would have been completely unaware that in the process of my learning, a thousand prejudices were shaping which books and gurus I consulted and which I ignored. But I am blissfully unaware of this and have now come to the conclusion that translation RFV is the best - and thus everyone should be using it. Except they don't, which makes me now suspicious of them.

The most amazing thing about the Bible is the way the texts have been preserved in such quantity and in such a manner that we need not doubt what God has said. Which translation we use is not the truth to focus on, or the debate to argue (or at least to spend much time on).  By insisting on defending the RFV I have really lost the plot: my knowledge has distorted the issue itself. 

What we need is wisdom, not knowledge
What we need is not knowledge but wisdom. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. I have this knowledge, now how should I use it? What's the wisest way of using it? And since love is the greatest, what's the most loving way to use this knowledge?

Wisdom is the appropriate use of knowledge, wisdom is the balanced use of knowledge. Without wisdom, knowledge is useless and even dangerous.

Which brings me to my final point; knowledge should only be accumulated in connection with brothers and sisters to whom my findings and conclusions - and the effects thereof - are constantly being assessed.

"knowledge puffeth up, love builds up."