Forside Articles Theological Pride
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Skrevet af Jørn Nielsen   
Tirsdag, 24. maj 2011 05:18


“Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”  (1 Cor. 8:1).

The more theological knowledge you get and seem to ”master”, the greater is the danger of theological pride.  Of course it doesn´t have to be so if the theological knowledge goes hand in hand with true humility.  However, scholarship may sometimes be just disguised conceit.

I was once working in the beautiful Switzerland and was recommended to visit a British couple in Lausanne.  He was referred to as a missionary to Switzerland, so I looked forward to spending some time with them.  He was a competent Calvinistic scholar, I also went with them to their little church where he preached in fluent French and then back to that couple´s hospitable home.  I was alone, my wife was back in Denmark, so the selfless wife of my missionary or pastor friend offered to wash and iron some pieces of my clothing which I found very touching.  My French speaking brother and I talked some things over within the theological realm -  in English, mind you, (my French is extremely bad!), and I mentioned to him some influential servants of God in the revival history, like John Wesley and Charles Finney, who were however immediately belittled by my “five points” Calvinistic friend.  He seemed to look at them at hopeless heretics.  So I realized that I was confronted with a well taught theologian with good theological answers to almost everything, but I sensed a strange spirit of theological pride and felt grieved.

In Norway I took part in a Bible study in a private home many years ago. (Contrary to America we like to meet in our private houses and not only in a church building or a pastor´s office)  The editor of a big well known Lutheran magazine was also there.  I looked forward to meeting him as I was representing a smaller interdenominational paper, so I thought we had something to share as brothers in Christ.  He started belittling my paper which admittedly was small compared to his, and I was grieved to feel the lack of spiritual fellowship.  As the evening and our Bible study went on he kept aloof, and a wall of spiritual pride seemed to be between us.

Don´t get me wrong, I love to meet well taught people, and I may even seek their counsel, as I often feel lonely in my spiritual struggles.  Sometimes that is possible and the spiritual fellowship is beautiful, but I also sometimes meet the know-all attitude with big heads and “restricted” hearts (see 2 Cor. 6:11-12).

This has nothing to do with “cultural” differences (as we strangers from Europe would wrongly attribute to the Americans).  It has more to do with plain pride.  You may meet pride everywhere, even in the jungles, but I still contend that spiritual truths,  nay even small fragments of God´s word, are much more appreciated by simple Indians or persecuted Christians than by Bible educated Westerners. The Bible is not given to make us puffed up but to make us tremble at His word in a contrite spirit (Isaiah 66:2).  That kind of ”education” transcends all sophisticated “-isms” and theological systems.  God´s word is bigger than that.  The problem is that we are sometimes too big!

May 24, 2011 – jn

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