Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Knowledge is not enough! Knowledge is not what comes first!


"We ALL Have Knowledge," she said snottily.

And in response Paul answered:

"WE KNOW that “we all have knowledge” ... But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes." [1 Corinthians 8:1-3]

Today's blog leans heavily on a Daily Reflection written by Mark D. Roberts, Laity Lodge Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence, entitled  "What's Wrong with Knowledge?"

"Christians care deeply about knowledge, or at least we should. After all, we were created with the ability to know. Through our understanding, we are able to fulfill the first lines in our human job description: "Be fruitful . . . and have dominion." Moreover, God has chosen to reveal himself to us so that we might know him in truth, even if our knowledge is incomplete. In words, in deeds, and ultimately in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, God helps us to know him so that we might have an intimate relationship with him and so that we might serve him in every facet of our lives.

"So, knowledge can be a very good thing, something for which we rightly strive. But knowledge can also trip us up, especially when the knowers are immature and self-absorbed. In 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul deals with a tricky issue in the Corinthian congregation, the issue of whether or not Christians should eat food that has been offered to idols. In the first three verses of chapter 8, he begins by identifying a fundamental problem in the Corinthian church. Certain members are boasting about having knowledge, knowledge that guides their behavior with respect to eating food offered to idols. About their proud claim, "We all have knowledge,' Paul comments, 'But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church' (8:1)."

As a Quaker pastor I have stood face to face with the attitude.  We Quakers are vulnerable to such errors in applying truth.  I have never faced a person with this stated attitude who was seeking to strengthen the local congregation.  Every one of the persons who have confronted me or others in the church with this statement has used it as a defense against truth, a message God trying to get them to embrace, or as a put down seeking to devalue me as a God sent leader for the congregation or simply as a personal attack, a personal put down. 

"Paul is not saying that all knowledge is bad or that we should try to have right knowledge. Rather, he is pointing to a problem with knowledge, or, perhaps more accurately, a problem with those who claim to have it. One who has knowledge can feel overly self-important. Knowledge can make one "puffed up," to translate the Greek of verse 1 more literally (gnosis phusioi). If I think I know something important, and especially if I think I know something that you don't know, then I might get a big head and start thinking that I am better than you."

"Knowledge, by itself, is inadequate. Something else is needed if we are going to have and use knowledge appropriately, and that something else is love. Whereas knowledge puffs up, "love builds up" (8:1, agape oikodomei). Knowledge can be a powerful tool in God's service, but it will only be wielded wisely if the one who knows is first and foremost one who loves."


Yes, the errors of the Corinthian church are alive and well among church congregations, Quaker and other, today! Have you searched yourself on this issue? I hope Satan has not lured you into feeding his wood chipper.

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