Is Knowledge Evil? . . . or Good? . . . and what about “Religion?”
Question: Is Knowledge Evil? Is Religion Evil? Or Are They Good?
Answer: What great questions! So this could be really long, but I’ll try to make it short:
I don’t think knowledge is evil. It’s good. However relying on your ability to use it to make yourself in the image of God is perhaps the very definition of sin—it’s original sin. God made the tree. It’s good. Taking the fruit to make yourself like God is evil.
What we’ve taken as evil (the work of the flesh, the fruit from the tree, which is also the broken body and shed blood of Christ–knowledge) is also what God gives as good (the gift of grace, the fruit of life, the body broken and shed blood of Christ–knowledge).
I know that’s a theological and exegetical statement, but I think it’s rather practical as well. Knowledge is good, but if I take it as a possession to be used to create myself (pride ego etc.) the taking becomes bad. However, if I receive it as a gift for the sake of loving others the taking (“take and eat, this is my body GIVEN to you) becomes good.
Maybe another way to think of it: A) I can know about my wife to gain power over her, to dissect her, manipulate her and basically crucify her. OR B) I can know her because I love her AND I desire to know about her because I already know her and love her… lovers just like to sit and listen to totally “useless” information about the other.
In my walk with the Lord, I can go to seminary to advance myself, or just because I’m in love with Jesus. If I see my wife as a threat, I’ll seek knowledge about her to protect myself from her. If on the other hand, I’m madly in love with my wife and surrender my life to her, I’ll want to know every little thing about her, but not to control her, but rather to worship and serve her.
So knowledge is a great evil when it’s acquired in the service of pride AND a great good when it’s acquired in the service of Love.
So maybe I’m saying it’s important to seek the “Who” and then the “what,” to glorify the “Who.” Evil tempts us to seek the “what” as a means of capturing the “Who.”
I often say, “It’s not ‘what’ you know but ‘Who’,” When I say that, I am trying to say that the “Who” is more foundational than the “what.” The “Who” speaks all “whats” into existence. The “Who” is God and the “what” is creation. Satan tempts us to worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator; to, in fact, use the creation to trap the Creator rather than worship the Creator; to use the creation to nail the Creator to a tree.
Ultimately we will all surrender our stolen fruit. I mean everyone must die. I think that’s got to be such a crazy experience… being utterly unable to keep yourself alive and utterly ignorant (not knowing) how to do so. We will all have to lay it down and then God hands it to us as a gift: life and knowledge of Himself. I think that has already started in the Christian life… and yet our whole life is being discipled into that reality.
Hope that helps!
Your fellow wrestler/struggler,