READ: 2 Timothy 3
THINK: Harvard University was founded in 1636 with the motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae – Truth for Christ and the Church.” It’s seal, bearing this motto, had three books on it. One was intentionally faced downwards as a reminder to all who would study there of the limitations of human knowledge. A few decades ago that changed. The seal has been altered so that all three books now face up to symbolize the unlimited capacity of the mind, and the motto has been shortened simply to Veritas – Truth.
The shift in ideology at Harvard mirrors a shift in the culture around it. We are not less educated than in the past, but more. But with the development of our knowledge and understanding of the world has come an immense measure of pride whereby the culture in which we now live believes that knowledge itself passes for truth because truth is whatever the possessor of that knowledge wishes it to be. Truth is relative to the individual mind and so the greatest pursuit is not truth itself – as though it is a thing existing outside of us that could be pursued – but simply more knowledge.
The pursuit of knowledge is praiseworthy. But the failure to acknowledge that there are limits to our own mental capabilities leads us down the road to denying that truth is truth – that it is concrete and created by God and not created by us. This is what Paul is talking about when he writes about those who are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of truth.” Our culture pushes all of us to take that path. It encourages us to fill ourselves with pride to the point that we begin to believe that our extensive knowledge affords us the right to determine, within ourselves, what is true and untrue.
We would do well to heed Paul’s warnings. Solomon’s too: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7). There is an intimate relationship between God and truth. God created truth. He determines it. It exists outside of our personal preferences and feelings. And the awesome thing is that he encourages us to seek it! He encourages us to pursue knowledge – not to puff ourselves up with pride but to discover the truth about him, about ourselves, and about the world he created. God is not afraid of human scholarship. On the contrary, he is the inventor and inspiration behind it. All truth is God’s truth. It is when we attempt to wrest truth from his hands and pridefully assert that it is ours to create that we miss the mark.
In order to humbly acknowledge and apply God’s truth to our lives we need – amidst all of the other studying and pursuing of knowledge that we engage – to be reading the Bible regularly. It’s useful! (2 Tim 3:15-17).
PRAY: Thank God for giving us his word. Thank him for giving us truth, and for giving us the minds and the curiosity to study and learn about this world he created. Ask him to give you the humility to resist the spirit of the age – the temptation to learn but not find truth. Ask him to help you remember that truth is about what he says and not about what you feel.