I’ve heard the jokes: “Did you hear about the guy who went to Divinity School and died by degrees?” “How many years were you in cemetary….I mean seminary?”
It’s true that studying theology can be deadly. It can lead to intellectual pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). It’s possible to acquire knowledge about God but never know Him personally (John 5:39).
Statistics on divorce suggest it’s also dangerous to get married. So, should we ban marriage? It’s dangerous to cross the street. So, should we stop crossing streets? The same goes for the pursuit of theological knowledge.
The pursuit of God is a holy ambition. Yet we must be careful not to pursue the god of our own imagination. J. I. Packer writes: “You do not have to make a graven image picturing God as a man to be an idolater; a false mental image is all that is needed to break the second commandment.”
The Lord rebuked the worshipers in Hosea’s day saying, “My people perish for lack of knowledge, and because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being priests to me…” (Hosea 4:6). Later in Hosea we read: “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Most ministries put a high value on worship these days. But if our worship is not based on truth our worship is detestable to God. John Calvin said: “All who forsake the Word fall into idolatry.”
An expert in law once asked the Messiah what was needed to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered, echoing the words of Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” God didn’t create our brains as mere filler between our ears. He gave us a mind that we might truly know Him and worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
Many are praying for a spiritual revival today. Yet, may we never forget to include in our prayers a cry for the revival of “the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9).
Have you found a way to maintain your zeal for the Lord while pursuing theological truth? Please share a comment. I’d love to hear your insights.