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December 03, 2013

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It's a nice idea to study God's word consistently. But it means nothing if we do no actually do what it says. As Bonhoeffer says, one act of obedience is better than a hundred sermons. I think we have plenty of people that study, but not all of them actually obey.

The quote from Wilberforce is great, but I want to comment on JB's response.

JB, there's nothing in Wilberforce's remarks that singles out "God's word". Studying the word of God is important, but so are studying the evidence pertaining to the nature of that word, studying God's activity in history, studying the world he's created, etc. In the book of Acts, for example, the early Christians don't just read and cite scripture. They also argue for their view of scripture, appeal to eyewitness testimony, appeal to prophecy fulfillment outside of scripture, reason with people about their beliefs, etc. The studying Christians should be doing involves a lot more than the study of scripture.

Where do you get the idea that "we have plenty of people that study"? A majority of Americans are so ignorant of the Bible that they can't even name the four gospels, for example. Read the Department of Labor's annual research on how Americans use their time. Americans spend a lot of time watching television, following sports, doing housework, etc., but little time studying scripture, praying, and such. Even the minority who spend significant time on something like scripture study tend to be highly ignorant of philosophy, church history, and other important matters.

As far as "acts of obedience" are concerned, obeying God involves the mind. Obedience is more than an intellectual matter, but it isn't less than that. If you love people, you should love them through apologetics, reasoning with them, citing evidence for your beliefs, researching what other people believe, and other intellectual efforts. People have minds. Loving them includes tending to their intellect. Since we live in an information age, an age of television, the web, and other technologies that make intellectual issues more prominent than they used to be in many ways, it's especially important that we not neglect apologetics and other work of an intellectual nature. But we do neglect those things, and we neglect them to an astonishing and inexcusable degree. Wilberforce's comments are even more applicable to a modern culture like the United States than they were to his culture. It's a rebuke we deserve. Will we learn from it and act accordingly?

I agree with JB, that studying in itself carries little meaning. It is only in the combination of studying and doing that we please God (James 1:22-25).

However, my own observations support Jason's contention that "A majority of Americans are so ignorant of the Bible that they can't even name the four gospels. I would refine this statement by saying that a majority of church goers can't name to books of the bible. They can't name the 12 Apostles, etc. The very basic information contained in scripture. So how are they going to be obedient to that with which they are unfamiliar?

In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham says that one of his regrets is that he should have preached less and studies more. Was he a doer of the word? Absolutely. Yet, in looking back at all his doing and studying, he wished he had studied more. I think this is what Wilberforce was getting at.

My good friend and author Robert Gelinas wrote in his wonderful book Finding the Grove: composing a jazz-shaped faith, that we, like the great jazz musicians, must spend time in the woodshed, mastering our instrument, so that when we perform we can respond to the calls of those around us, just as Christ did; we can improvise and touch those around us, just as Christ did. But if all we've got at our disposal are 3 chords - then we're limited in how God can use us.

The various Cursillo movements make this one of the three practical outworkings of the offices of Christ: Prophet, Priest and King: Study, Piety and Apostolic Action respectively. (Frame and Poythress called these categories Normative, Existential and Situational, also respectively.) The idea is that for a balanced Christian life, that we study to learn who God is and what he requires, nurture our relationship with God by the means of worship given to us, and seek to be involved with carrying out the great commission according to the spiritual gifts we have been given.

And so it bothers me the level of anti-intellectualism that has been so prevalent throughout church history and is such a negative influence in the Church today. I know people who are at least convicted to read their Bibles, but never strive to understand better what they endeavor to read. Ministries like STR are necessarily involved primarily with people who do strive to improve their understanding. But there are so many people who don't avail themselves of the wealth of resources at hand to improve their understanding and disparage those who do. They consider such pursuits irrelevant and arrogant.

Dawkins, an his colleagues, show that one needs very little study to know every important thing there is to know about God, as it isn't even a proper subject to study.

One does not need to study unicorns and garden fairies to know all that is needed.

or so they say.

@ Rick -

Dawkins would say something like that, as he's proven repeatedly that he knows next to nothing about biblical Christianity.


"One does not need to study unicorns and garden fairies to know all that is needed. or so they say."

The God of the Bible is in no way comparable/equal to unicorns and garden fairies.

If you'd bothered to ever read the Bible, you would know that.

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