The last two weeks have been intense here at Seminary. I spent countless hours memorizing new Hebrew grammar concepts and vocabulary, expanded my mind with an exploration into Determinism, Free Will, Dualism, and the like in my excellent Philosophy class, and immersed myself into the great tide of New Testament Greek as I searched for “it” in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.
In the midst of all of this flury of information and discovery, one question has surfaced that I can’t shake. I find that I absolutely MUST answer it for myself, but am not sure that I can. As I dig deeper and deeper into the text of Scripture, the though keeps prodding at my mind:
How much of what I am doing is Exegetically Significant, and how much of it is mere mental distraction from the revelation of God through his Word?
Critical analysis, the heart of exegesis, is a truly important tool for unpacking the truth of Scripture and understanding the intent of the text. I am grateful to have such excellent tutelage in this area, and to be graced with the opportunity to pursue my education as part of God’s calling on my life. But there is a danger to this knowledge, and it comes in the form of distraction.
This week alone I spent more than 20 hours in the Greek text of Philippians doing grammatical analysis. I am overjoyed at the insights that can come from reading the original language, and I am eager to learn more and more. BUT, at some point along the way this week, I think I missed the point of it all, and what could have been exegetically significant, in that it leads to greater understanding and truth, instead became exegetical process with an agenda. That in turn gave way to a feeling of desperation and despair, and a fear that I would never grasp it all unless I become a Greek scholar and nothing else.
So in the good process of trying to realize the exegetical significance of the text, I lost my way and missed the encounter that can only come from really experiencing the Word made Text. I have wrestled with this, confessed it, and received grace along with a healthy dose of humility.
But let this serve as a cautionary reminder to all of you as you study the Word. Though the intellectual process of sudy can potentially open us up to the renewing of our minds in Christ, it can also serve as a stumbling block disguised very convincingly as intellectual freedom, when in truth that freedom becomes intellectual pride. Then you can kiss the devotional, transformational, revelational beauty of God’s truth goodbye.
Keep it all in perspective. Seek the truth. Expand your mind. Study as though it truly IS for the Lord. And remember to take a step back every once in a while to make sure that you haven’t missed the forest for the trees.