Do you pride yourself on your theological knowledge?
Are you a walking Bible concordance?
Do you spend exorbinate amounts of your time blogging about eschatology, bibliology and soteriology?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, Thomas à Kempis has some sobering things for you to think about:
- God couldn't care less - You might be impressed with your theological knowledge, but God isn't. It is written, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) Suring up our knowledge of amillenialism simply doesn't come into the equation.
- Such knowledge doesn't bring you one step closer to salvation - The Pharisees devoted themselves to studying the Scriptures, yet Jesus said to them, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life." (John 5:39-40) That is, while the Scriptures do bear witness to Jesus, it is through coming to Jesus that we are restored, not through indulging in our theological knowledge.
- You are exposed to much more severe judgment - You may not have increased your chances of salvation, but you have opened a Pandora's box that has increased your culpability before God. As Thomas à Kempis writes:
Unless your life shows a corresponding growth in holiness, increased knowledge and better understanding will only mean severer judgment. So you should not let skill or knowledge elate you, but should rather feel a certain apprehension at what you have been allowed to learn.
- Even if your knowledge is impressive, your ignorance is even more impressive - Our human minds are so finite and the body of information in the world to digest so expansive that even the most learned of scholars have but touched the surface of what the world has to teach us. What is more, the type of knowledge we receive through our reading only accounts for a small proportion of all possible knowledge.
- There are countless people who know more than you - And chances are, many of these people will completely disagree with your theological stance. It is also more than likely that these people will have the ability to tear your feeble arguments to shreds, thus destroying any pretensions you may have had as to the value of your "sound doctrine".
Rest assured, Thomas à Kempis does leave you with one thing he believes is worth learning - "Aim at being unknown and thought of no account". This is a truly humiliating thing to think about. Not only does this involve lowering yourself below others, but it involves conceding that all of your great learning is mere rubbish in the eyes of God compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and following along the path of the cross.
At this point, I should include myself among those who need to learn the important lesson of humility. To truly embrace this teaching of Christ requires not merely learning and practice, but also a desire to unlearn those things that were once perceived to be important. Only then can one be filled with the wisdom offered by Christ.