The End of All Learning

You shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37). 

Though we do not find salvation in the law of God, we do find direction there. Specifically, we discover that we are to love God with all of our being; and a large part of our being is our mind. 

We fail to love God with our mind in a myriad of ways, but I wish to focus on two: theological ignorance and theological arrogance

Perhaps never in the history of the Protestant faith has the evangelical church been more shallow and superficial in its theology. Some of this theological ignorance is due to laziness in the pulpit. How much of the institutional church is comprised of weak, anemic, starving sheep languishing under idle shepherds? 

Yet, much theological ignorance is not due to laziness in the pulpit, but laziness in the pew. The lazy pew yawns, “It’s Sunday, the day of rest. Don’t make me think too much.” Then of course, the lazy pew is quick to add, “But don’t bore me either!” 

Alas, the lazy pew is shallow and superficial and cannot love God with the mind. Sadly, the church is never more like the world than when she is weak-minded. 

To be sure, theological ignorance is an obvious, prevalent way that we fail to love God with our mind. But there is another way, less obvious and prevalent but more insidious: theological arrogance

We could stress the difference thus: The theologically ignorant fail to love God with their mind; while the theologically arrogant fail to love God with their mind. 

Theology is not God. We must never forget this. It is altogether possible to be more excited or proud concerning our theology than our God. When we love doctrine more than we love God theological arrogance ensues. This is the import of Paul’s words to the Corinthians. 

Knowledge puffs up…if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him (1Cor. 8:1-3). 

Now, it should be understood that we cannot love God apart from doctrine or theology. How can we love God if we do not know Him? But it should be equally understood that we can love theology with the mind without truly loving God with the mind. Respected theologian, J. I. Packer, writes,  

What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have it? For the fact that we have to face is this: If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception. We need to guard our hearts against such an attitude, and pray to be kept from it. There can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge; but it is equally true that there can be no spiritual health with it, if it is sought for the wrong purpose and valued by the wrong standard. (Knowing God, p.p. 22-23) 

Is there a remedy for theological ignorance on the one hand and for theological arrogance on the other? I know of only one: Love God with all your mind. This is our duty and should be our delight. 

I leave you with the words of John Milton: “The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him.

4 thoughts on “The End of All Learning

  1. I once hear of one clergyman who boasted that he did not do one single says work in a lifetime in the ministry! In my view, there is a lack of Holy Spirit activity in the reformed church and too much shallow cerebral activity steering clear of theology in the Charismatic church and too little extra-Biblical theology in the Pentecostal church. The human being is a genius when it comes to abusing religion. They all do this without realizing that there will be a day of reckoning.


Comments are closed.