Thursday, June 1, 2017


Scriptural knowledge is now regarded as irrelevant or even antagonistic to true spirituality, even within many churches. Consequently, Bible studies and Sunday School have been replaced by home fellowships focusing upon cooking and finance.

This shift has been accompanied by a massive Millennial departure from the Church, a growing contempt for Evangelicals, and the marginalization of the Church within the West.

How has Scriptural knowledge been disparaged? We have been seduced by what has become fashionable. Consequently, we often hear it spoken from the pulpit:

·       I don’t want to know more about God. Instead, I want to know God.

Acquiring Scriptural knowledge and wisdom is hard work. It can also be confusing. Therefore, the quest to experience God, apart from the knowledge of God, has become quite popular. A good example of this is psychologist and professed Christian, David Benner, who has rejected the truths of God in favor of an alternative spirituality. He writes:

  • Equating faith with beliefs truncates and trivializes spirituality by reducing it to a mental process. Thoughts are, quite simply, a poor substitute for relationship. Some Christians speak much of a personal relationship with God but assume that this is based on holding right beliefs. Is it any wonder that this attempt to reduce Ultimate Mystery to theological propositions so often results in the principle personal relationship being between a person and his or her own thoughts? Cherishing thoughts about God replaces cherishing God; knowing about the Divine replaces knowing the Divine. Whenever the Wholly Other is thought to be contained in one’s beliefs and opinions, divine transcendence is seriously compromised and personal relationship with the Spirit minimized. (Soulful Spirituality, 6)

Benner needlessly denigrates truth, thinking, and believing in favor of experience. However, it is because I know that God loves and forgives me that I can love Him and feel intimate with Him. I know that I am beloved, and this helps me to love others. Our beliefs affect our entire lives – how we feel about ourselves, our attitudes towards others, and how we behave towards them.  

Denying the value of knowledge and truth seems to have become pervasive in our postmodern age. However, former ages placed an exceeding value on the knowledge of God. Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was an American preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian.

·       [He] is widely regarded as "one of America's most important and original philosophical theologians". (Wikipedia)

The jacket of “Jonathan Edwards on Knowing Christ” states that Edwards “is widely recognized today as perhaps the greatest of all North American thinkers and philosophers.” About “Christian Knowledge,” Edwards wrote:

·       There is no other way by which any means of grace whatsoever can be of any benefit, but by knowledge.

This seems like an inflated claim. However, this is also the claim of Scripture:

·       Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:2-3; NIV)

How can this possibly be? Edwards explained:

·       The heart cannot be set upon an object of which there is no idea in understanding on the heart.

We feel and experience according to what we think and believe. We respond with the heart to what we know and understand. Without understanding, there cannot be any embrace of the heart. For example, if I am not convinced by the knowledge of Christ’s enduring love for me, I cannot reciprocate with love. Instead, if I believe that God’s love is whimsical and changeable, I would grow to resent Him. This is why Scripture places such a high priority on the knowledge of God:

·       This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Consequently, it is God’s will that we should grow in knowledge, as Edwards had written:

·       It is the revealed will of God, that Christians should not only have some knowledge of the things of this nature, but that they should be enriched with all knowledge [1 Cor. 4-5; Phil. 1:9].

Edwards cited Jesus’ belief in the supremacy of knowledge:

·       Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (Luke 10:23-24)

According to Jesus, the knowledge that His Apostles had come to know far exceeded what others had known. However, Jesus only reaffirmed what the entirety of Scripture had also proclaimed – that the knowledge of God is of utmost significance.

Why then do some who seem to have knowledge and understanding act as if they do not? Edwards explained:

·       Many have a zeal of God, which doth more to hurt than good, because it is not according to [Scriptural] knowledge, Rom. X. 2. The reason why many good men behave no better in many instances, is not so much that they want [lack] grace, as that they want [lack of Scriptural] knowledge.

Many can recite Scripture and their denomination doctrines, but their knowledge lacks wisdom, and the way they apply their “knowledge” demonstrates its superficiality. Sometimes, this is merely the product of immaturity. Therefore, Edwards recommended:

·       Be assiduous in reading the Holy Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Therefore let not this treasure lie by you neglected.

This is the lesson I have learned. Scripture has done for me what nothing else has been able to do. It has chastened my hatred, fear, and jealousy. More importantly, it has allowed me to rest secure in God’s assured forgiveness, love, and care for the entirety of my life.

Today’s Church does not have any idea of what or who it has rejected, and it does not see its abject poverty. However, this is nothing new. Jesus castigated the Church of Sardis for their spiritual blindness:

·       "These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1)

However, Jesus didn’t conclude with these words of condemnation. Instead, He called upon His people to repent of their delusional “knowledge” (beliefs) with the hope that:

·       He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

We live, and we die according to what we believe. The late psychiatrist and Buddhist turned Christian, M. Scott Peck, had observed that certain of his patients were recovering. After some examination, he discovered that it was those who had certain Biblical beliefs about God. He, therefore, concluded:

·       “Now what better news can there be than we can not lose, we are bound to win? We are guaranteed winners once we realize that everything that happens to us has been designed to teach us what we need to know on our journey.”

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