02 July 2008

Knowledge is Power...unless it is just plain wrong.

I have a few blogs that I read regularly. Well, as regularly as I do anything in my life. Steve Camp, at Camp On This, is always a good read. I don't necessarily agree with everything the man writes or how he chooses to write it, but that's true of everyone I read. In fact, I am mercurial enough to disagree with my own writing on any given day. Steve wrote a list of resolutions that are right from Scripture. Not only is his article a good read, the comments are worth reading too. One of the things that came up in comments was the idea that living by resolutions can give way to self-dependency. It's a valid warning. There is always a fine line between having faith in your faith and having faith in the sufficiency of Christ.

There's a lot of information out here on the superhighway. Some of it isn't worth the powder it would take to blow it back to hell. It can be difficult to navigate your way to stuff worth reading. I am not one that thinks you should read only what is orthodox. In fact, I think that Christians are too quick to become intellectual separatists. I am not giving license to read smut. In fact, that's a no-brainer for me. What I am trying to say is that reading about other worldviews isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are some loony people out there with some loony ideas and if you don't have sufficient grounding in your faith and are susceptible to thinking loony thoughts, you might want to proceed with caution, but opposition isn't always bad for you.

Knowledge is power when you have the ability to think critically and when you have a standard by which to measure the veracity of the knowledge. When I was in the 2nd grade I was in the afternoon class. It was sort of like being in the GATE program. I had been moved from the morning class into the afternoon class and I had a head swelled with pride. I was now a member of the elite who got to do special research projects. My first project was to give an oral report about the Golden Gate Bridge. Wanting to provide the teacher with the best and most stunning report she had ever heard I used every resource available to me. My great-grandfather had helped build the old Carquinez bridge so I was pretty certain that made him an expert on the Golden Gate. Why I trusted a man who told me that you milked cows by pumping their tails or that dogs sniffed one another because there was a big windstorm once that mixed up all their parts and they were sniffing to see if they could find the original parts that belonged to them is beyond me. But I did.

How my teacher kept from laughing hysterically is something I don't understand. She was a most gracious woman. I stood up and told the class everything I had learned- keeping back the little known secrets my grandfather had told me until the very end. Very somberly as if I were trading national secrets, I told the class that the Golden Gate Bridge was an engineering marvel. It had been built so that in the event that the Japanese should attack San Francisco the way they had attacked Pearl Harbor, the roadway would roll up and be pulled back into secret tunnels in the mountains on either side and there were two enormous guns that would appear on the towers to shoot their planes out of the sky. My classmates howled with laughter and thought I was being a clown. They had no idea that I was as serious as a 7 year old can be. Years later when I was visiting the Marin headlands and seeing the gun batteries and Nike missiles that were left over from the cold war, I had a good chuckle. Great-Grandpa got me good with that story.
One of the greatest obstacles encountered in a teaching ministry is this idea, pervasive in the Christian Church, that there is no benefit to be had by the laity in serious study of the Word of God or in the study of theology. We have elevated to the level of an ideal, the idea of having a simple childlike faith... There is a close connection between simplicity and naivete. Believers who have not been deeply trained and matured in the things of God, are vulnerable and exposed to every wind of doctrine that blows through the Church... We are exposed to them because we simply do not have a mature understanding of the truth of God. - R.C. Sproul

What's my point? Being childlike in our faith doesn't mean checking our brains at the door. Avoiding works based salvation and faith doesn't mean you stop striving for obedience. Critical thinking is hard work and we as believers are not doing enough of it. It's worth repeating. The discipline to think critically is hard work, as it in it takes effort. Real, sustained, continuous effort. Make certain what you know can be measured and is true, even the experts in your life can be wrong.

I leave you the same quote I left on Campi's blog.

"Consider the benefits promised to the true disciple. Jesus said 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!' No one can know truth except the one who obeys truth. You think you know truth. People memorize the Scriptures by the yard, but that is not a guarantee of knowing the truth. Truth is not a text. Truth is in the text, but it takes the text plus the Holy Spirit to bring truth to a human soul. A person can memorize a text, but the truth must come from the Holy Spirit through the text. Faith comes by hearing the Word, but faith is also the gift of God by the Holy Spirit." A.W. Tozer Faith Beyond Reason.

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