Wednesday, April 30, 2008

J.I. Packer on Studying God...

Most anyone who reads this blog has some interest in theological issues and the study of the Bible. In addition to this general assumption, I am aware that several of my readers are currently seminary students, soon to be graduates, pastors, and other leaders among God's people. In light of this, I thought I would share a quote that has been a helpful reminder to me regarding the manner in which we should seek to study the Bible and theology:

"We need to ask ourselves:  what is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things?  What do i intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have got it?  For the fact that we have to face is this:  that if we pursue theological knowledge for its owen sake, it is bound to go bad on us.  It will make us proud and conceited.  The very greatness of the subject-matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians, 'knowledge puffs up...if any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows not yet as he ought to know (1 Corinthians 8:1-2).  To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end it itself, to approach Bible study with no higher 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.  In this way, doctrinal study really can become a danger to spiritual life, and we today, no less than the Corinthians of old, need to be on guard here."

J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 17.

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