“Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).
Warren Wiersbe once heard a preacher announce, “I didn’t never go to school! I’m just a igerant Christian, and I’m glad I is.”
Dr. Wiersbe countered, “A man does not have to go to school to gain spiritual intelligence; but neither should he magnify his ‘igerance.'”
Spiritual knowledge is available to all who will open God’s word and sit before the feet of the Savior. But, we hasten to add, it does not happen in a few minutes. We do not take a pill for spiritual maturity and godly knowledge. It’s more the result of what has been called “a long obedience in the same direction.”
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” commanded the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:18).
We are commanded not to be ignorant.
I’m remembering a Groucho Marx radio show of the 1940s which spoofed the other radio quiz shows. It Pays To Be Ignorant dealt with such profound questions as “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” and “What color is the White House?” The panelists didn’t have a clue, of course. It was all done for laughs. As an eight-year-old, I loved it.
There is a segment of Christianity, small and diminishing I would hope, that prizes the uneducated and unlearned in its clergy. They go for style (bombast) and energy in preaching, not for content and certainly not for Truth. Let the pastor try to introduce a thought-provoking bit of teaching and he loses his audience. I’ve preached in those churches and speak from experience. But if it’s loud and negative, the ‘amens’ will come at him from every direction.
There is another kind of spiritual ignorance, however, loose in the land, that poses a far greater threat to the work of God’s people. Here is some we have seen….
–We have seen pastors preaching their opinions and stories they have picked up like cockleburs in a meadow,, but nothing they discovered from studying Scripture or received from the Holy Spirit. And, as Jeremiah once said about something similar, “And my people like to have it so” (Jer. 5:31).
As God said to Jeremiah about the false preachers of his day, “They speak a vision of their own heart” and “I am against the prophets who steal my words from his neighbor” (Jeremiah 23:16,30).
No one should preach who has not been called by the living God and then stayed in the Word until he learned how to heard God’s voice from Holy Scripture.
–We have Sunday School teachers spreading ignorance and heresy with no accountability. If the pastor were heard saying the things being uttered in some of those classes, he would soon be out of a job. And yet, because the speaker is a layperson, no one does anything.
My wife heard a Sunday School teacher say to a women’s class, “I hate the Apostle Paul. I hate him. He was an evil man.”
And because there was no accountability for the teachers, she went right on and no one did anything.
Why didn’t they? “Well, someone might get upset.” “Well, she has been a member of this church longer than most of us.” Or, just as likely, “It’s just a bunch of women; no one cares what they do.” And perhaps the biggest reason of all they go on teaching such ignorance: Pastors sometimes fear for their jobs if they take a stand against certain teachers.
In one church I served, the membership registered surprise when the ministers exercised authority over a Sunday School teacher who was teaching heresy. We shut her down, but not without blood being spilt.
–We have preachers undermining an educated pulpit, an informed congregation, or a proper respect for the translations of Scriptures. “Now, we don’t need a pointy-headed seminary professor to tell us what this means.” “I don’t care what this version says; my grandma taught me the truth of this a long time ago.”
—We have some who think they are defending the faith delivered to the saints of old when all they’re doing is fighting for their opinion. Listen to them and invariably someone will say, “This is what we have always believed.” Or, “This is how I was taught it and that’s how we’re going to do it.” Or, best of all: “Well, I don’t know what the Bible teaches, but I know what I believe.”
—Some with a reputation for great preaching or soulwinning know only “a rabbit track through the Scriptures.” They know some verses but not the whole counsel of God. They do not “search the Scriptures.” This is particularly true of some soul-winning Christians who know about a dozen scriptures, but little more.
Let the pastors and other spiritual leadership do the wise things…
–Let them honor a proper appreciation for all the Word of God.
–Let them never put a prize on a lack of education or glorify college or seminary degrees. Either extreme is wrong. Many a preacher/teacher without formal training has a great understanding of God’s Word. And likewise, many of those with doctorates do too.
–Let the leadership invite in Godly and mature Bible teachers who will raise the standards for the membership.
–Let the uneducated pastors take what training they can get online or by short courses at their Bible colleges and seminaries. These days, every thing is available online. There is no excuse for a lack of proper learning, other than laziness. And that is no excuse.
“Father, bless your church. And strengthen those who are working to make it healthy and effective. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
I have seen the other side where anyone with one more day of formal education than the rest was the resident “expert”, whether he or she was right or not. Great article and good advice! However, to be technical, we are commanded by scripture to be ignorant of evil and experts in the good (1 Corinthians 14:20 and Romans 16:19). I share this because we were criticized for raising our daughters in a “sheltered” environment where certain TV shows, music, books and magazines were not permitted. I responded with an illustration of how our FBI agents are trained to identify counterfeit currency. They don’t show them all the ways money can be illegally duplicated, but they are trained to be experts in authentic currency so that they can immediately spot what is false. We “trained” our children in what is good so that they will be able to know what is not of the Lord without having to experience it.