Thursday, July 22, 2010

Being "Well-Taught" vs Real Knowledge (1 Corinthians 8)

Madrinaa Pizza & Pasta
Madrinaa Pizza. iPhone 3GS + CrossProcess.

In some Christian circles, it is a virtue to be well-taught - to be able to handle the Word faithfully and to hold to biblical doctrines. And God tells us that these things are indeed important and essential for every aspect of life as a Christian (see, eg, 2 Timothy). These skills alone however, don't make us children of God anymore than getting full marks on music theory papers makes us useful tinklers of ivories.

But our innate sinfulness will not let us remain, harmlessly, completely useless. We quickly become puffed up by our knowledge. Those in-the-know separate themselves from the clueless. We could be robust in our defence of the gospel and have an answer for every objection, we could be fantastic expositors of Scripture and committed preachers or teachers and keen studiers of CCM song lyrics, but we could merely be applying abilities that would formerly have been spent diligently doing our homework, successfully spotting exam questions, trashing our opponents in debating competitions and in completing a postdoctoral thesis on the etymology of the Middle English suffix -more that would be published in preference to a competing postdoctoral thesis on the etymology of the Middle English suffix -hede.

"If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God." (1 Corinthians 8:2-3)

We know that food offered to idols is nothing since idols are nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4-5), just as we know that a text without a context is a pretext and that Above All contains a unbiblically man-centred chorus. All this is true, yet truth, God's truth,is never merely propositional but primarily relational.

When we, in our superior state, scorn the know-nots and their pedestrian tastes in doctrine, we actually deny the very knowledge we claim to have. So the Corinthians, by insisting on their freedom in the truth that there was only one God to the detriment of their weaker brothers, denied the truth that it is only for God and through Jesus Christ that we exist (cf 1 Corinthians 8:6) - they in fact destroyed their brothers for whom Christ died (1 Corinthians 8:11) and were as those who denied Christ (1 Corinthians 8:12).

This isn't so much a case of knowledge vs love. Rather it is that real knowledge is both factual and relational knowledge - that one is known by God and that causes one to love God and people.
(Though it must be said that this love flows from the truth of the gospel and isn't a vague niceness that doesn't try to push the gospel.) We take our cue from God the All-Knowing, whose infinite and eternal knowledge is concerned with having loving relationships with the Trinity and his people.

I think! ;-p

Madrinaa Pizza & Pasta

Madrinaa Pizza & Pasta

Blk 3, # 02-141 Queen's Road,
Singapore 260003

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