Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Knowledge Without Love

People relate to God in different ways. Myself, I generally tend to relate to God through theological study. I love me some systematic theology, and I find great value in being able to articulate and teach doctrine. I have a distaste for doctrinal wishy-washiness, so I seek knowledge. The downside of knowledge, however - even biblical knowledge (maybe especially biblical knowledge) - is that knowledge can easily feed the flames of pride. I read the following this morning from Alexander Strauch's Leading With Love. In this section, Strauch is discussing 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3. It was a good reminder for people like me:

"Paul... speaks of himself hypothetically as possessing the gift of prophecy in such full measure that he would know "all" mysteries and "all" knowledge. He would thus have the theological answers to all the mysteries of God that people crave to understand. He would be a walking, talking, encyclopedia of knowledge.

Some people love to display their intellect and theological superiority. They are proud of their learning and speaking ability. Such pride had become a serious problem at Corinth. Some people were arrogant because of their knowledge and puffed up with self-importance. They wanted recognition for their prophetic insights and superior wisdom, and they looked down on others with lesser knowledge and giftedness. As as result of their arrogant misuse of knowledge, they harmed the church body (1 Cor. 8).

Knowledge without love inflates the ego and deceives the mind. It can lead to intellectual snobbery, an attitude of mockery and making fun of others' views, a spirit of contempt for those with lesser knowledge, and a demeaning way of dealing with people who disagree. I know of a pastor who had a phenomenal knowledge of the Bible but who hurt many people with his doctrinal scrutiny and divided his own congregation repeatedly until there was no one left but himself. He had a big head but a little heart. His theology was as clear as ice and twice as cold. Such is the path of one who has knowledge without love."
Lord, keep my theology from being cold and unloving.

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