Of Isms and Rabbit Trails
by J.M. Njoroge
Among my toughest audiences in apologetics are undoubtedly my two little boys. From the time words started forming on their lips, questions of various kinds have been a staple around our home—the most formidable one being, “Why, daddy?” More than any other of our appetites, I strongly suspect that thirst for knowledge and the occasional thrill of discovery have played the greatest role in shaping history. From the vast machinery of the news media to the intricate systems of the educational enterprise, from specialized research institutions to the multifaceted world of religious devotion, human hunger for knowledge is the oil that greases the mill of civilization.
So pervasive is this drive for knowledge that it can become an end in itself, opening up a rudderless detour along even the journey to God. This is true in religious systems that claim knowledge for a select few, with secretly guarded rituals forever hidden from the uninitiated. Gnosticism, from the Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge, was built upon the premise that there exists a category of knowledge privileged to a select few. Most Eastern religions insist that the problem with humanity is not sin but ignorance; hence, their solution to the human predicament is enlightenment, not forgiveness. Similarly, scientific naturalism stakes its fortunes on the bare, cold facts of particles and quarks; to know them is to know ultimate reality—never mind the minor detail that, logically, there is a gaping missing link between knowing how something works and the conclusion that it was not made.
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But according to the Bible, at the end of our incessant pursuit of knowledge lies a Person, not an ideology or impersonal reality. God is not only the beginner of all that is; God has also shown his face in the earthliest of terms. Jesus was born in circumstances accessible to the lowliest of the shepherds as well as to the most majestic of kings. He spoke to large crowds in public places and was crucified outside the city walls, thereby silencing forever the voices of self-appointed guardians of alleged esoteric knowledge. In biblical terms, no pursuit of knowledge is ever complete without the discovery of the one who is the truth; to know this one is to know not only ultimate reality but also ourselves.
For the Christian, then, it is a solemn thought to remember that reducing apologetics to a contest in the abstract can actually keep us from knowing God…
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