When I graduate from high school it seemed that I had Christianity figured out. I knew who was orthodox and who was heretical. I understood what everyone needed to know about doctrine in order to be part of the “real church”. It was simple. The only thing I needed to do now was develop a better understanding of Scripture in order to better defend “the truth”.

Then in college something happened. The more I learned about the Scriptures, the more I realized that I knew less than I thought I did. The more subjects I addressed, and the more vantage points with which I became acquainted, the more it was apparent that I didn’t have all the answers.

So after college I went to seminary. I graduate with a MA in Biblical and Theological Studies. I knew more at that point about Scripture and Christian theology than I had at any other point in my life. Similarly, I was even more aware of how much I did not know and I began to realize that there was a lot that I may never, ever know.

Some Christian groups dislike education because they think education corrupts good faith. This may be true at times. It is also true that education can be absolutely humiliating. Yes, much learning can puff one up with pride. I would contest that happy ignorance can do the very same thing.

The more I know the less I know. The more I learn the more I realize there is to be learned. While learning is good because ignorance often leads one down roads that are harmful to good faith, it is also a slap in the face. If learning is done correctly, it makes it even more apparent why the Apostle Paul emphasized that the “righteous one will live by faith” (Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11). If we lived by knowledge, as the gnostics preached, we’d all be condemned. Even when we know more and more we never penetrate the depths of God’s truth.

Even in our orthodoxy we cannot capture, nor contain, God. We can say all the right things about God without knowing God at all. We can line up all our t’s and dot all our i’s, yet be as distant from God as the most hard hearted atheist.

Does this make orthodoxy not worth pursuing? Not at all. When one pursues the truth one gets closer to the Truth, Jesus Christ. When one’s heart is soften by the Spirit one avoids more and more error that can lead a person toward heart ache and misery. So we must seek truth Truth.

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to interact with some readers of this blog who are in their undergraduate programs hoping to one day journey further into academics. I know some who are just beginning seminary or graduate school. As I look ahead to those who are further along the journey than I (those in Ph.D. programs, those who have recently graduated, those who have been teaching and writing for years) let me give advice to those who are further back down the trail: do not rest on your knowledge.

Some of you are 100 x’s smarter than I. Do not rest on your natural intelligence. Do not think that the “answers” you obtain on the journey equate to having arrived. You will never arrive until the day you stand before Christ waiting to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Be humble, yet do not be afraid to ask hard questions. Be creative, but do not ignore the voices of Christians who have come before you. Use your mind to its fullest capabilities, yet never worship your mind. Always worship your Creator.

Do not be afraid of the statement, “I don’t know.” You are not saved by knowing. You are saved by the Christ in whom you have placed your trust and in whom you have declared your allegiance.

One final word: be diligent. If you are one of those naturally intelligent people (I am not) do not rest on your skills. We need you to do work hard while remaining humble. We, the church, need you to submit your intellect to the Spirit. If you are like me and you have to sweat and scrap for every ounce of understanding you obtain, do not be intimidated. You do not have to be Augustine of Hippo, or John Calvin, or Karl Barth, or N.T. Wright to be useful in the Kingdom of God. You have to be who God called you to be. If you give yourself wholly to that you will do your heavenly Master proud.