Ours is an era of abundant information. We are inundated by an endless news cycle, connected with minimal delay to the thoughts and experiences of our peers, and supplemented in our thinking by the seemingly infinite repository of data shared by the world’s computers. The Christian who wants to be informed is limited only by time and expense: the recorded thought and piety of the Church throughout the ages is available quickly and often cheaply, and much of the discussion and debate that continues the process takes place in the omnipresent online public square.
So why sacrifice so much, both of time and expense, in order to pursue a theological education, when its content seems so readily accessible to anyone interested?
We believe, in a word, that knowledge is more than information. It begins with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7), the God of knowledge who “weighs actions” (1 Sam. 2:3), and issues in ability to judge and govern (2 Chron. 1:10-12) and submission to God’s rule (Neh. 10:28-31). Creation teaches it (Ps. 19:2), as does God Himself (Ps. 94:10; 119:66) by the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:2; 1 Cor. 12:8) in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:4-5), yet it is to be sought as well in the instruction of a godly parent (Prov. 2:1-5), a righteous ruler (Jer. 3:15; Mal. 2:7), or a wise friend, brother or sister (Prov. 15:2, 7; 22:17; Rom. 15:14), and is the fruit of discipline (Prov. 12:1), the renewal of the new self (Col. 3:10), and the fellowship of faith (Phlm. 6).
Knowledge is the encounter of the whole person with the living God. The picture Scripture gives us is of “training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), an experience of the community of faith together, never as a solo endeavor by the isolated scholar. If this is the calling of all of God’s people, how much more those who feel called to teach, preach, and minister in the Church?