Knowledge needs Jesus

“Wisdom comes from God, knowledge from school. Seek wisdom and knowledge.”

That is a jolly Christian bromide, but also cheerfully wrong. A twitter-able bromide is still toxic, even when decoupaged to a Christian plaque upon reading. Evil cannot be buried under any amount of glue.

What happens with such errors? First, we feel good and then we pay. Errors either manifest deeper errors or become deep mistakes. In this case, the slogan usually points to a view of learning antithetical to Christianity.

Instead, Christianity begins all thought in God: not ideas about God, not our experience of God, but God. Whatever we experience or think, whatever we say or do, we will fall short of the truth and glory of God, but His reality is what undergirds our journey to truth. He is, so we can mistakes about Him without sin. We can try and fail to describe God, making idols without intending to do so, if the moment we see how limited our ideas and experience must be we abandon the idol.

God gives those who fear God wisdom. It is wisdom that makes knowledge possible. Without wisdom, the scattered propositions or experiences, the data we collect living, can be organized usefully into systems, but always with a fatal flaw. It isn’t knowledge, because it is made false in the defective mental structure into which it is placed. God’s wisdom is not merely a worldview, getting new glasses, or even receiving new eyes, but being renewed in mind. The common, though broken, image of God in every human being means that even a flawed knowledge system can work, short term, but the flaw will always steal, kill, or destroy the joy of the believer.

The flaws in every Christian mean that though Christianity is truest and best, not all Christians live in the renewal of our minds. Too often, we are renewed, but continue to live in the old. As a result, our worldview is better, but we we fail to live in it.

What of orthodoxy? Orthodoxy is the truth, essential knowledge for salvation, revealed by God to the human community, His Church. Of course, we fail God’s Revelation, but the Revelation endures. This is great news. The mistake the “liberal” makes is to think Revelation becomes less than the Church has believed it to be. That is false: bad churchmen always tries to make love less and easier. God wants us to love even our enemies, the churchmen try to soften that demand. We pretend torture is acceptable or that hate can be good if we just hate the right target. Revelation moves us to chastity. Each generation of churchmen try to justify divorce for kings or fornication for the rich or polygamy or some broadening of marriage. We are offended by the virgins that are before the throne of God in the final Revelation pretending that desire must be fulfilled for happiness.

The mistake of the conservative is to worship the outer sign over the inner reality. We set up a shrine where God was and do not go where God is. We use Revelation as a command to repeat Revelation, instead of as a basis for further exploration of the Divine Mystery. The conservative churchman places external burdens on followers that he cannot do himself. He increases the external standard, because the internal Good is so impossible for anything but grace to achieve. He too mistakes desire for happiness, but focusses on the disordered desires of others or his own disordered desires to punish himself.

We believe the truth, we live the truth. We receive wisdom and so we know. True propositions are true whoever asserts them, but this is not knowledge that is useful. Instead, true knowledge would be the experiences and propositions we have had organized and interpreted by Wisdom for us. It is by grace we are knowledgable and this not by any intellectual work but by the grace of God.

God is the start, middle, and end not just of wisdom, but of true knowledge. Jesus is the God-Man who enables us to see dimly and find our way to God.

 

 


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