Scripture Study: Transforming Experience or Academic Exercise?

Almost 2 years ago, I tried to put words to something the Spirit had shared with me in one of our many conversations.  I used the term moral philosophy to describe what the Spirit shared with me what the church had turned Christianity into in reality.  Yesterday, I came across a much better term to describe the reality of much of the church’s perspective on things:

Sin Managment

Just recently, I once again came face-to-face with how way too many people approach scripture, a way that honestly I find to be a terrible and pointless approach.  This approach actually closely resembles how the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in Jesus’ day, did it.  And, Jesus rails against this.

John 5:37-40

And the Father who sent me, he has testified concerning me.  You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor have you seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for him whom he sent, this one you do not believe.  You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning me.  Yet you are not willing to come to me that you may have life.

It has become far too normal in western Christianity for the study of scripture to become nothing more than an academic study of facts and literature, albeit wrapped in a cloak of pseudo-spirituality, rather than what it should be and do, which is point us to Christ and then transform us by him and through him as we encounter him through scripture.  Any study of scripture that does not have some type of transformation into being like Christ connected to it is pointless, a waste of time and nothing more than an academic exercise.

But what gets me is that the view connected with this academic approach is that the information given is of intense and high importance.  Once again, if it does not have a transformational aspect to it, I believe that God considers it worthless.  (Harsh, I know, but that’s how I believe God sees it based on Jesus’ words from the above passage.)

When no real transformation is connected to it, there is something that fills that void.  Paul says in I Corinthians 8:1 that “knowledge puffs up.”  That means that knowledge not connected with transformation causes pride in a person.  And the direct result of that pride which comes from knowledge is the judging of others.

Sadly, it is my opinion that this very thing happens in far too many corners of the Christian family.  There is so much intellectual knowledge about scripture taught and that is all it really and truly is.  While some of this knowledge can be helpful in providing context and background for how God has worked throughout the years, it is not an end in and of itself.  It must only be a small piece and it must lead to an experience of and encounter with the living Christ that transforms us in some way.  Rarely does that happen, though, through this type of teaching, where it is actually nothing more than an intellectual exercise and the possession of that knowledge is somehow viewed as making a person more life Christ.

It really is the blind leading the blind.

I would like to end with this encouragement and challenge: ask yourself the reason for which you are studying a certain portion of, aspect of or topic found in scripture.  If it is nothing more than an academic exercise which will increase your knowledge of scripture in someway but have no transforming effect on you, making you more Christ-like, consider why you are spending the time doing so and whether or not God thinks it is a waste of valuable time that could be spent having your God-given identity become more of your daily reality.

 

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