Knowledge vs. Obedience

Posted by on 01 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: random.

Erwin McManus recently stated at a national convention:

Studying the Bible doesn’t change people. Just look at seminaries.

Is that true? Is knowledge the end of our Christian walk, or is ultimate obedience the end? Why do we seem to place such an emphasis on formal education, when the Bible is full of stories of obedience, not formal education. When Jesus hand-chose 12 people to mentor as his disciples, why did he not choose the most educated people he could find?

For instance, why didn’t he choose someone like Paul, who was very educated and really knew what he was talking about. Why didn’t he mentor someone like Paul instead of the ‘nobodies?’ Is it possible that the educated think they’re right all the time and have a really hard time following a leader in a new direction (which is why it took a major event to knock Saul to follow Christ), whereas an uneducated person doesn’t have pre-conceived ideas and are ‘stuck’ in religion. Is this the religion v. faith argument?
If a man has a Ph.D. in theology, is he automatically a better Christian than the business man who truly lives a life for Christ?
this just jumped at me today…help me think through this. what are your thoughts?

6 Responses to “Knowledge vs. Obedience”

  1. on 01 Dec 2006 at 8:32 pm 1.Abby! said …

    Sometimes I think we get so consumed with what we know that we deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re okay with God relationally. I don’t think it’s intentional every time, however, it becomes easier for us than grasping the reality that God has placed before us: we are saved by GRACE, not by our works. We aren’t okay with faith being enough…because it’s in no way a tangible exchange for our salvation. So in many cases, we pack our brains with knowledge, wanting to prove to God, ourselves, and other people that we’re earning our keep. Knowledge in and of itself is a great thing, but it can become a wedge between us and truly knowing the heart of our Creator, if we allow it.

    The question is: Are we seeking knowledge as a means of earning our way to God, or are we seeking God and gaining knowledge of Him along the way?

  2. on 02 Dec 2006 at 7:13 pm 2.joe said …

    @nathan: I’m completely with you on this one! While I think it’s important to study and learn, that in no way replaces, or even defines, our relationship with God. We are capable of having a relationship with God simply because He loved us. There is nothing we can do without God first loving us.

    @abby: That’s some good thinkin’. :)

  3. on 04 Dec 2006 at 1:04 pm 3.Todd Helmkamp said …

    As an educated man (also a hopeless intellectual!) I offer a different perspective:

    A) Studying with Jesus personally for three years is better than any education possible. I can’t imagine a better type of formal education

    B) The tendency now is to swing too far in the other direction. Not enough people are studying the Bible, source documents, historical context, commentaries, etc. Many are far TOO relationally based. It is much easier to have the “warm fuzzies” of a Christian experience without the deeper understanding that only comes through a lifetime of serious study.

    “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
    And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

    C) To respond to the above quote by Erwin Mcmanus, I would say “Studying the Bible doesn’t NOT change people. (I know it’s a double negative. Leave me alone). What I mean is, Bible study, in and of itself, doesn’t change a person. Think of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds. (Matthew 3:13-23). But that does NOT give us the excuse to discard hard, Biblical knowledge and solid instruction in favor of personal experience and opinion. Too many people are too lazy or immature to immerse themselves in God’s Word. It takes work. Hard work.

    D) I happen to be a big fan of Erwin Mcmanus. I love “The Barbarian Way.”

    E) Abby, there is definitely a huge difference between knowing about God, and truly knowing Him! Right on target!!

    F) Nathan, I have no problems following a leader in a new direction, as long as it doesn’t go contrary to the Scriptures. People who think they “know it all” (of which I am sometimes guilty) are no different from the people who feel that they don’t have to learn anything: Pride.

  4. on 05 Dec 2006 at 9:41 am 4.Kelly said …

    I don’t comment much, but this post and comments has struck a little bit of a nerve with me…so here goes. I would like to use my mother as an example. My mom is not an educated woman, she’s a high school drop-out, and never had any formal education beyond her junior year. Her only other education is that of real life. My mother is one of the most open, outward Christians I know. She will invite people she’s just met to come to church with her, and has the purest, simplest faith I’ve ever seen in anyone. She has a condition that makes reading difficult, even impossible in some cases. So does the fact that she doesn’t read commentaries and historical context make her less of a Christian? I will argue with anyone that thinks so. I strive to be a Christian like my mother. Jesus called all of us to have a child-like faith. I believe that oftentimes too much knowledge ‘clogs up’ our ability to have that kind of faith. Don’t misunderstand-I’m not bashing people who read book after book after book about anything and everything God-related. In fact, I commend them for their hunger to know as much as they can. I just don’t believe that a person needs that kind of education to be a world-changer. I personally don’t enjoy reading those kinds of books. It doesn’t ‘feed’ me…actually the vast majority of them bore me to tears. I still read my Bible, spend times in prayer, and yearn to only do the will of God. Does that make me less of a Christian?

  5. on 05 Dec 2006 at 7:22 pm 5.Todd said …

    No. But we all have a responsibility to grow in knowledge and wisdom.

  6. on 18 Dec 2007 at 5:29 pm 6.Timothy B. Cypert said …

    Great discussion. There must be a healthy balance of knowledge and emotion. All must lead to obedience and love or they are in vain. Philippians 1:9

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