I recently had the wonderful opportunity to converse with a man I sharply disagreed with; he is a Hindu from India. I will not share his name for the sake of his personal privacy, but we had a very enjoyable discussion that went on for over two hours. (Notable Observation: It IS possible to disagree and carry on a meaningful and enjoyable discussion.)
We quickly realized how divergent our world views were. I would talk about “right” and “wrong”, he would talk about action and consequence without moral culpability.
He believes actions can affect karma, and karma will affect your next life (Hindus believe in reincarnation), that next life will not be experienced by us, therefore what we do in this life doesn’t ultimately matter.
I soon realized that his conversation took a turn toward a more familiar worldview, that of secular humanism. He believes that we should do “good” to other people, but for no other reason than doing good ultimately benefits us. Selfishness often proves to be the prime motivator of good deeds in a worldview apart from God.
As I questioned him and asked about the truth claims made by Jesus himself, (e.g. claims to divinity, being the “way, truth, and life”) he was quick to say that it can be okay for me to believe these truth claims, but that what is true for me may not be true for him. He quoted one of the Hindu hymns to back up his understanding that knowledge ultimately amounts to nothing more than a pile of dirt in the hand of Vishnu (a Hindu god).
We ended our discussion on a very cordial note, but not without one last attempt from me to share the gospel. I said to him, “I think I understand all of what you have shared. But, I believe the Bible and I believe that there is revealed truth. I believe we can know concretely who God is, why our world operates the way it does, and we can use our knowledge, that God himself has revealed. And through the verifiable historical events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have only to repent and trust in him for salvation.”
By means of a very long introductory story, the word I chose to focus on today is “knowledge”. γνῶσις is the word for knowledge used 27 of the 50 times that word is used in the New Testament. It is found in Luke as the word used to describe the knowledge of salvation that Jesus would bring in the prophecy of Simeon (Luke 1:77). It is the word that Paul uses when instructing Christians to use their knowledge to build others up, not to make them stumble (1 Corinthians 8).
There are two primary ditches to fall into when thinking about knowledge, particularly in our current culture:
- The first ditch is to reject knowledge. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) In Christian circles, these are the people who claim “No creed but the Bible!” or “I will learn from the Holy Spirit, not from a pastor.” God has never intended for his people to be ignorant, and He has given teachers, pastors, elders, etc. to the church for us to learn and grow in knowledge of who God is, in order that our theology may turn into doxology, our knowledge into worship.
So let us rejoice in knowledge! (See Romans 11:33)
- The second ditch is that we become proud, haughty, and arrogant in knowledge. Knowledge is to be the guiding staff of a shepherd, not the rod to beat others with when they are found lacking in knowledge.
Some have thought that the best way to guard against this legalistic judgment, is to join in affirmation of relative knowledge. This is the increasingly popular cultural response, “you do you” mentality. Cultural Knowledge that is not grounded in Biblical veracity is at best temporary and at worst, damnable. A rejection of pride should not be a rejection of knowledge.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge (γνώσει) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”2 Peter 3:18
I want to close with a brief quote of application from my favorite British theologian,
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”Charles Spurgeon
Thank you for reading! After a brief hiatus from writing blog posts, to focus on school and work related writing, I am looking forward to continuing to share more words, thoughts, and knowledge with you as we learn and grow together.