In church culture, there is often an aversion to theology. The word itself has to do with studying and knowing God, but the very word seems to create an immediate impression of irrelevance and arrogance. I’m sure there are many reasons this aversion exists, but it seems that at least one reason has to do with a false humility that clings to ignorance. Common phrases like “The Bible is too hard to understand,” or “I’m no theologian” are uttered by men and women who have been a Christian for decades. But this logic breaks down in every other realm of life. For example, if your thirteen-year-old tries to justify her D in Algebra by claiming that it’s too hard and that she’s no mathematician, I don’t think that will fly with most parents. If you tell your boss that the assignment is too hard and that you’re no genius, he’ll probably tell you to not let the door hit you on the way out. And yet when it comes to the God of this universe, do we really think that He’s going to give us a pass because we claim ignorance? This notion is especially irrational in light of the fact that he has stooped to reveal himself to us in intelligible language. Let me tell you why I believe perpetual theological ignorance is false humility.
Four Reasons Why Perpetual Theological Ignorance is False Humility:
- It’s not humble, it’s hateful. Remember, theology is about knowing God. If I said to my wife that I want to know her as little as possible because she’s too hard to figure out, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t say, “You always know how to speak my love language.” She would think what anyone would think—that I’m hurtful and hateful and do not love her. If God reveals himself to us through his Word and then we turn around and care nothing about reading and studying it, we are saying, “I don’t really care to know you any more than I have to.” The late R.C. Sproul said, “God has made us with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action…The more we know Him the more we are able to love Him. The more we love Him the more we seek to know Him. To be central in our hearts He must be foremost in our minds. Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action.”
- It’s not humble, it’s patronizing. As I mentioned above, claiming ignorance works in almost no other area of life. Whether it’s school, work, or the IRS, they’re not impressed or persuaded when we play the ignorance card. They assume that we’re either lazy or uninterested. Should we expect God to assume otherwise when it comes to knowing him? If finite people can so easily see through our smokescreen, do we really expect the God to be naïve? We have to admit that this assumption is patronizing to God.
- It’s not humble, it’s lazy. In our day, people like to have information fast. It takes time to read and study the Bible. It takes time to wrestle with deep truths, using reason, logic, and prayer. One of the tragedies of our modern fast-paced, immediate information era is that we have lost the ability to slow down and contemplate ideas. We are accustomed to having our phones ping and our schedules busy. If we do leave margins in our lives, we fill them up with mindless screen time. Essentially, neither time nor ability are the great obstacles to our knowing God, but rather laziness. Sproul said, “Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”
- It’s not humble, it’s rebellious. It could be that you’re afraid of what you may find if you dig and discover the true Jesus of the Bible. If it is true that Jesus is Lord, then you don’t control him. If you acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, that means that you are no longer the master of your domain. If Jesus is your Lord, he lays claim over every square inch of your life. And if you’re honest, this reality may scare you because that means you can’t pursue your own agenda, you can’t protect your pet sins, you can’t spend your money, vacations, career, and time however you want. Every facet of your life is to be leveraged for his glory. If you stay in a perpetual state of theological ignorance then you’re really saying that you can do just fine without God, which was the sin of our first parents (Gen 3:5-6). Ultimately, you must admit that you’d rather cling to ignorance then to submit to Jesus as Lord.
If we claim to be a Christian, but are content with theological ignorance, we’re simply wanting a piece of Christian spirituality, without embracing the whole thing. But why? Does it make us sleep better thinking we have God on our side? Have we bought into “Vampire Christianity,” which says, “I’d like a little of your blood Jesus, now excuse me while I get on with my life and I’ll see you in heaven”? It is absurd to not be “all-in” with the God who created it all. As C.S. Lewis said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Not only is it impossible for Christianity to be moderately important, you will be miserable if you treat it as such. Charles Spurgeon remarked, “the most miserable person in the world is the half-committed Christian, just enough into God to be miserable in the world, but just enough into the world to be miserable in God.” What is holding you back from making Jesus the Lord of your life? Do you think you will forfeit your joy if you labor to discover “the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18-19)? Augustine said that we are made for God and we’ll be restless until we find our rest in him. Let us pursue Christ with everything we have. Let us run to him, rest in him, and delight in him as we behold his beauty. Let us study the Bible, ask the hard questions, and be gripped by the God who graciously holds us in His hand.