Scholarship without Wisdom and Spiritual Discernment

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Academic Directive #27

Evangelical scholars seeking acceptance by the secular academia must demonstrate that their scholarship is “objective’ and “up to date.” This would require them to submit journal articles that are replete with copious footnotes which refer to a wide spectrum of ancient texts and archaeological sources, and comply with the critical presuppositions and methodology that are prevailing within the secular academia.

Credit may be given to evangelical biblical scholars who have taken up the challenge to match the terms and conditions set by the secular academia. They are unlike their theological cousins belonging to the “Old School of Medievalists and Puritans” who remain recalcitrant in purveying ancient superstitions as they continue to spout outdated scholarship learned from dusty tomes of ancient writers whom they reverently referred to the ‘Church Fathers’ or the ‘Scholastics’. It is irksome as these academic wannabees fail to separate their confessional faith and rigid tradition from objective, historical scholarship. May His Infernal Majesty reserve the hottest fire for these theological fools and fanatics for their academic fraudulence!

Nevertheless, it is too soon for Liberals to celebrate this domestication of biblical scholars as they are inducted into the secular academia. While the folly of “Old School” theologians is easily exposed, evangelical biblical scholars may turn out to be Trojan horses in the academia. The secular gate-keepers whose duty is “prevention of academic vice and promotion of academic virtue” should never let their guard down. These evangelical scholars may be careful not to display overtly their Christian superstition in academic discourse, nevertheless one never knows when these crypto-believers might surreptitiously share their crypto-creed to less discerning students under their supervision. After all, old superstitions die hard.

But don’t worry – the secular academia has found a way to neutralize them so that of all people they have become the least likely to fulfil the academic great commission, much less have the courage to share their faith. How? By keeping them from reading old theological books. The secret is to inculcate the “Historical Point of View”:

(1) Ensure that evangelical scholars conform to the “Historical Point of View”. This strategy is bequeathed by His Infernal Majesty at the beginning at the Garden of Eden, that is, exploit something entirely good (in this case, the quest for knowledge through rigorous scholarship) in order to keep the scholar from attaining what is better (achieving spiritual discernment and wisdom). Put briefly, scholars are required to give most of their attention to exploring the purported historical background, as the assumption prevalent among the secular academia is that the biblical text is obscure unless it is illuminated by knowledge of alleged parallel social-cultural practices, illustrated with suitable literary citations and archaeological inscriptions etc. In their frantic quest for academic relevance, these evangelical scholars end up neglecting the prima-facie reading of the text and elaborating its enriched meaning by noting the inter-textual relations of the various texts of the Bible. There is even less attention given to analyzing the thought processes and intended message of the writer(s) of the Biblical texts. In effect, their scholarship shares much information but fails to challenge dominant ideas that are inimical to faith and convict the heart.

(2) Ensure that when a scholar is presented with any statement from a biblical text (especially their apostles and prophets) or ancient scholar, the one question he never asks is whether it is true. He asks who influenced the ancient writer, and how far the statement is consistent with what he said in other books, and what phase in the writer’s development, or in the general history of thought it illustrates, and how it affected later writers, and how often it has been misunderstood (especially by the learned man’s own colleagues) and what the general course of criticism on it has been for the last ten years, and what is the ‘present state of the question’. To regard the ancient writer as a possible source of knowledge—to anticipate that what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or your behaviour—this would be regarded as unutterably simple-minded.

(3) Perpetuate the myth that one of the benchmarks of rigorous objective historical scholarship is that it relies only on verifiable experience and empirical facts rather than appeal to ad hoc supernatural intervention in human history. One corollary would be the dichotomy between an analytical mind and a meditative heart as a prerequisite for robust scholarship. This will discourage evangelical scholars from grappling with the ‘spiritual’ meaning of the texts – you note the word ‘spiritual’ meaning is under inverted commas, as His Infernal Majesty once declared that the purpose of scholarship is to promote knowledge, which in turn is determined by one’s social location and serves to gain power and influence rather than achieve ‘spiritual’ discernment. Thankfully, given the zeitgeist of the secular academia, many evangelical scholars are discouraged from indulging in this futile exercise of reading a text spiritually which was prevalent among theologians of the “Old School”. After all, scholars today in their eagerness to keep up-to-date with the latest scholarship often unconsciously imbibed the spirit of ‘chronological snobbery’ – the view that the thinking, art, or science from an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present simply by virtue of its temporal priority.

And since it is not possible to deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another. But thanks be to Our Infernal Father and the “Historical Point of View”, great scholars are now as little nourished by the past as the most ignorant mechanic who holds that ‘history is bunk,’

 

Gratefully plagiarized from Uncle Screwtape – thanks to C.S. Lewis

———–

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

From “The Rock” by T.S. Eliot

 

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