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Starting the Search for Wisdom

June 10, 2012

A good part of Teaching My Kids will involve finding and imparting Wisdom to them.  Before beginning that process it seems right to determine where and how I will start that search.

Much of the world claims that wisdom is to be found inside ourselves, without any explanation of how it would have been put there

I searched a huge online bookseller recently and found “Modern Buddhism” and the “Toltec Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” as the two most popular books relating to wisdom.  Both of these books suggest finding wisdom within one’s self through meditation, a common approach among Eastern mystics and New Age adherents.   Interestingly, a cursory review shows these books seem to have polar opposite interpretations of what one should actually find within one’s self, and how those insights will lead to Wisdom.

Also among the most popular books with the word “Wisdom” in their title is a book of interviews with celebrities showing Clint Eastwood on the cover.  Wikipedia states that Eastwood has fathered at least seven children by five women and been described as a “serial womanizer”; it’s pretty clear where he has been searching for his own brand of “wisdom”. (Although I’m sure his picture will help book sales among women.)

“The Secret” was a worldwide phenomenon, with a huge bestselling book recently and popular movie of the same name, pronouncing that positive thinking in our brains actually changes the world around us in physical and emotional ways.

Most of the world seems to have concluded that in the search for wisdom, we should start with ourselves.  Specifically – within our own personal feelings and thoughts and emotions.  FALLACY ALERT: Does this seem strange to anyone else?  In the spirit of “Asking the Big Questions” it deserves a closer inspection:  If one doesn’t have an answer to a particular question, does it make sense that they might somehow find an answer to that question if they simply meditate and look “deeper” within themselves?  On the other hand, if the question is one which might yield uncomfortable answers, (answers which might cause them to feel a need to change their life decisions or priorities), there is a huge benefit to this approach:

Answering life’s questions “from within” guarantees that one will find answers that make them completely comfortable with their current life choices!

Pause a moment, here, and consider whether this isn’t the basis on which ALL of this thinking is being packaged and sold to our postmodern world…  It has been said that what works in the world is what sells.  But we cannot be influenced by the tide of economic memes.  Truth and the foundation for a search for Wisdom must run all the way down to bedrock. 

What do our churches say?

When looking at our churches we must first decide whether we will be judging based on words or deeds.  For my purposes I will judge based on deeds, as those tend to show a group’s true core beliefs far more accurately than their statements, given our (especially religious) tendency to allow our speech to fall into well-worn patterns.

Looked at in this light, it seems most modern churches give answers very similar to the world’s answers, and for that matter Eastern religions’.  Most point to the Bible as their foundation, but IN PRACTICE they pick and choose which verses in the Bible to follow vs. which to ignore (Don’t feel comfortable holding women out of leadership positions? – feel God meant that for an older society’s time and place, and you know better what’s appropriate for here and now?   Think homosexuality is “just a lifestyle alternative”?  Maybe it’s okay to let them join or even teach your kids’ Sunday School?  Feel you need to soften up the sermons not to convict people too strongly?   Feel it’s more important to get them coming back to absorb the gospel a bit at a time?  Ease them into it?).  To me that’s ABSOLUTELY EQUIVALENT to the members of those churches stating that they themselves are the judge and source of wisdom.  They may often claim they rest on the Bible – but since their actions don’t confirm that I put them in the same category as the world and the Eastern mystical religions mentioned above.  Churches which are willing to make these man-centered adjustments do more harm than good in our world today, but that’s a separate blog post…. So we keep coming to this same answer which we’ve already seen is false although infinitely marketable in our feel-good society.   

Do we find a coherent consistent start for our search for wisdom in the Bible?

Proverbs 9:10 gives us a very concise answer: “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

Fear of the Lord.  Knowledge of the Holy One.  The second phrase helps us understand the nature of the “Fear” being prescribed – comprehension, understanding of the full power of the Lord, and His full and complete justice as the cosmic judge of all humankind, and yes, terror at the prospect of His judgment on us for our sins.

How is that a beginning of wisdom?  Consider what you do once you fully comprehend the power and nature of God.  How little now do you trust yourself and your sinful nature to arrive at real Truth?  How now do you look at His book?  How high will you now hold in esteem the Wisdom given in it?

But Fear of the Lord goes further. It is only because God is there and has created the world that any knowledge – much less wisdom – is even possible. Only an order of such incredible grandeur and power and scale and infinitesimal minutest accuracy would enable life, and intelligence, and therefore wisdom. To believe such a universe and set of fine-tuned natural laws could have arisen randomly without a Creator should be laughable to anyone who considers the question earnestly.

Are you living a man-centered life – even if you claim Christianity?  Does your life look like everyone else’s out in the world?  Do you ignore uncomfortable portions of the Bible because the avoidance of conflict OR maintaining certain social connections OR the desire to show tolerance are more important to you than following the words of the Creator of the Universe?  My friend if these apply to you, you have not yet even started the search for Wisdom.  Come along with me and my kids on this journey.

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From → Bible, Worldview

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