I remember the moment all too clearly. The room was filled with a pervasive darkness, only pierced by the moonlight sifting through the blinds. The ground felt coarse on my knees as I knelt by the edge of my bed, praying with a sorrowful and repentant heart. I knew this semester was a challenging one. It took the best of my heart and poisoned it with academia, hardening it to be an uncaring and un-empathetic weight in my chest.
When you read the Bible for school, you sometimes find yourself losing your awe and wonder of it. You begin studying it, purely for knowledge’s sake. That’s what happened this semester. It took a very humble reminder to see that faith is not proved by knowledge, but rather by love.
Now, I am not saying that knowledge isn’t important. 2 Peter 3:18 leaves us with the admonition to grow in the knowledge of Christ. What I am saying though is that when knowledge trumps loves as a mark of spirituality, it becomes dangerous.
We should pursue knowledge out of our love for Jesus Christ. Knowledge within that context gives us hope, rather than strip us of it. I am thankful that I have been brought up in a balance of education and faith that allows me to develop knowledge within my Christian context. But now, I am fearful for the coming generations.
Currently within our modern society, we have debates raging on that our culture faces a regression in the education of our youth because we teach them that they could dismiss the process of science because of faith. As a result, our nation places 17th in the world in science education1.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing for taking a specific stance on this debate (we can talk about my beliefs in another post). The problem isn’t that we are teaching our youth science to disregard faith. The problem is that we are cultivating a belief in our youth that faith cannot inform any knowledge. We are forming a knowledge devoid of any context, and it is this sort of knowledge that becomes absent of love and hope.
If we teach our youth knowledge without any sort of context, they’ll become like I was after this semester: disenchanted by the world. Americans argue that having beliefs that informs our knowledge is a primitive way of doing things, which will in turn stifle the innovation of our culture. Yet, I would rather have a so-called primitive love than a progressive knowledge.
If we continue on this trend where we teach children that knowledge trumps love, then we fall into the same plight as the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 8. Here we see Corinthians using their knowledge to convince believers to act against their conscience and eat meat sacrificed to idols. Knowledge here is corrupting rather than building up (1 Cor. 8:1).
You see, we lay the burden of culture’s progress on the shoulders of our youth, when maybe progress means that they believe in something, and they hold onto that belief with all of their heart. Then, when a mad man goes charging into a school with a gun, will our future generations have the hope and love that builds up our nation rather than the knowledge that has us questioning the existence of God.
So here is my encouragement: for believers, let your faith be proved by love, not knowledge. And for non-believers, allow for the opportunity for knowledge to gain context that gives us hope in the face of tragedy.
1 Zhao, Emmeline. “Best Education In The World: Finland, South Korea Top Country Rankings, U.S. Rated Average.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.