What Do You Know?

     A long time back I was in graduate school trying to study history. One of the courses I had to take in the study of what we used to call “Western Civilization” was on the Enlightenment. It was taught by a mature woman who had a PhD in the field from Bryn Mawr College. She was very sharp and a fine teacher and was a person of faith which is not always the case in such environments, as the Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that had in part to do with casting doubt on the idea of Scripture as being inspired and authoritative.

     In the process of studying that material I became reacquainted with the work of John Locke, a very significant English philosopher. One of his areas of work had to do with how people come to know things, a field known as epistemology. Locke also was a man of faith though he was not, in so far as I am able to determine, a thorough going Calvinist. In those days one was either some kind of Reformer or a Catholic and Locke seems to be in an area of his own. This is perhaps why his work appealed to participants in the Restoration Movement such as Alexander Campbell and others.

     Locke’s book, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, is still read today and is beneficial if a person has the patience to work through it. The bottom line is that Locke thought people are born a blank tablet and in the process of life they write on that tablet the things they come to know. These things come to them via their senses. When I read that (long ago) it seemed to me an idea consistent with Romans 10:17. Still does. At any rate, studies like these I have mentioned can benefit us if kept in a context that recognizes God’s will as preeminent.

     So when we ask the question, “What do you know?” what is the answer. After all the reading, study and work I think we end up right with Jeremiah who said, “O Lord I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). We do not have within us in any innate sense the intellectual material necessary to guide our lives properly and righteously. We need God.

     We all sin (Romans 3:23) and that sin skews our perspective about life. We need God’s Word to direct us in the right way to go (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12). That Word will, in turn, direct us to Christ who is Himself, the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Men think the thoughts of men. God thinks the truth.