Ignorance is not the tenth fruit of the Spirit. Education is not the enemy. This, in spite of what many Fundamentalists, Charismatic, and Pentecostals proclaim as they worship the alleged “anointing” instead of Jesus, and in spite of all the faux-witty pulpitisms about seminaries being cemeteries and the like. The reason we have so many personality cults and quasi-cults masquerading as local churches is because some charming person with a gift of articulation “feels something in his/her heart” and teaches it as gospel. Education may not be the essence of the river of life, but it does provide banks in which it may safely and beneficially flow.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard clichés like the following from preachers and teachers over the years. I have heard every one of these slanders in my Christian experience, some many times.
- “I can’t be bothered with theology and Scripture study, I hear God’s voice. He tells me what to do and preach from the Word.”
- “Scholarship, Hebrew, and Greek aren’t important. We need the anointing and the presence of God.”
- “We don’t need education, we need the anointing.”
- “We don’t need teachers. We just need the Bible and the Holy Spirit.” Even the Bible says we should have no need of teachers.
- “If having the Holy Spirit is not enough to lead me in biblical understanding, then what hope do I have?”
- “We all can’t be scholars.”
- “God is not a system. We don’t need systematic theology.”
- “Scholars and theologians are part of the problem. We just need to take the Bible at face value.”
- “Too much studying gets in the way of revelation. It stops the flow of God.”
- “We need spirit power not intellect power.”
- “Doctrine is secondary and just divides people. We want to emphasize His supernatural power and miracles.”
- “All that’s important is relationship and the love of God. People can’t understand, and don’t want to be bothered with difficult issues of biblical interpretation. It just undermines their faith. They just need to be told what to do, and to know that God loves them and wants to bless them, after all, sheep are dumb animals that require shepherds.”
- “The gospel is simple. Don’t complicate it with all that “learning.”
- “We want to get the people in “touch with God.” We do that with praise and worship, not doctrine.”
- “Don’t bother getting an education, or going to college, Jesus will be coming soon.”
- “Exegesis=Exit Jesus”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why just “sincerely feeling something in your heart” does not establish the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The comments above really trouble me, and are reasons among many why many the at-large Charismatic/Apostolic-Prophetic church (my tribe in the family of God) as well as other Fundamentalist/Evangelical-leaning expressions are in the doctrinal mess of neo-Gnostic nonsense, New Age metaphysics, and other aberrations that they are.
The hostility against scholarship came to full bloom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century at the dawning of the Pentecostal movement. Educated secularists began attacking the credibility of the Bible, and education became the enemy of faith. Being Pentecostal was considered equivalent to being a rube, a simpleton, an uneducated country bumpkin. In reactionary response, people of faith, particularly from the Pentecostal tradition, began labeling education as the tool of the devil, and “anti-Spirit.”
Though significantly diminished over the years, the prejudice against education and scholarship still persists today, and frequently raises its ugly head in the Blogosphere of internet commentary.
Spiritual health requires two oars on our kingdom boat: Word and Spirit.
Spirit-less and stale academics are useless and bring forth death. Sanctified ignorance is a dead end leading to aberrant beliefs and practices. Neither an ignorant sincere person nor a scholar without faith are beneficial to Christ’s kingdom.
Anointed ignorance is not the tenth fruit of the Spirit. Presence-less, power-less, transformation-less “accurate biblical information” . . . is useless.
Jesus is simple. The Bible is not. A four-year old can understand gospel basics. You do not need to be a scholar to effectively minister for Christ and to disciple others in the faith. However, to “teach the Bible,” and require others to conform their lives to what you teach, requires more than sincerity and a sixth-grade reading level. The latter is why we have cults full of “sincere” people.
Indeed, scholarship is not the essence of the river of life. However, what scholars provide are the banks of the river that assure what flows there is clean, and that navigation is safe.
Crucified and resurrected scholarship, born out of the new creation nature, as a gift from the Spirit, is as life-giving as any other quality or gift in the new creation.
I find it comically sad, and not the least hypocritical and disingenuous, for “leaders” and bloggers who read Bibles translated by scholars, who use reference tools written by scholars, who proclaim allegiance to a new testament written in bulk, by the best educated scholar of his day (Saul/Paul) to demean the very discipline that makes those resources available to them! I would suggest the Spirit of the Lord is not as education-averse as many would believe.
If our faith is so fragile that the opinions of unbelieving, unregenerate “scholars,” or divergent views from other believing scholars, are somehow a threat . . . well, that doesn’t say too much about the vitality of the faith we profess. If we end up in reaction, we will miss the blessing and benefit the redeemed Spirit-filled scholars bring to the body of Christ.
Too often, cheap shots at scholarship are nothing more than the carnal insecurities of leaders who are threatened by people who might be more gifted, skilled, or informed in an area themselves. Controlling and insecure leaders would rather take pot shots at scholars who challenge their beliefs and practices, than change either. Kill (slander) the messenger . . .
Can I suggest that we call a cease-fire on scholars and theologians? Many times I have literally wept openly in thankfulness, as I have turned to my library, or clicked my I-pad and availed myself of resources that other men and women gave their lives to produce. The Spirit meets me, and overwhelms me with the awareness that I am partaking in the download of another believer’s life . . . their virtue . . . for me. Their labor . . . their cost . . . their sacrifice . . . for a treasure on a bookshelf or a swipe of a finger.
I would like to suggest that tears of thankfulness for scholars and theologians are more appropriate than ignorant, insecurity-based, internet cheap-shots.
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 These are literally things I have heard leaders teach. These are not rhetorical fabrications for effect.