The post I wrote on the weekend decided that wisdom is a good goal of education. I think I’m not alone in concluding this. A late-90s book by long time religious educator Chuck Melchert is Wise Teaching. You can read the post here: http://wp.me/p1pLbI-p
However, a blog is not a fully processed piece of academic writing or even a sermon. Is like a diary.
So I can be wrong. I’m allowed, on a blog. I hope someone picks up on it. Blogging is supposed to start conversations, isn’t it.
Next day, I’m reading Colossians over breakfast. And I see that not only is generic wisdom a goal of education, but specifically Christ is the Christian’s wisdom.
Of course. How could it be otherwise.
If one were Muslim, Allah and his prophet would be one’s (source of) wisdom.
If one were a certain kind of Hindu, practicing advaita, the depths of one’s own interiority could be one’s (source of) wisdom.
Let’s notice an ambiguity in passing: is that which I know my wisdom?
If Abraham Heschel, say, was sleeping and you saw him, you could still say, That man Heschel is wise. Heschel was a notably wise rabbi who taught at Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC and wrote books that all kinds of people appreciate. Sleeping, he is not being wise. Unless he is having wise dreams, that is. Or giving out wisdom in his dreams. He has the quality of being a wise human being, whether the quality is actively employed or not.
Or is my wisdom the same as my ability (if any) to process what I really know in given situations. I possess an ability to read situations and act appropriately. As did those old Issachar guys from last posting.
The contrast is between *I possess* wisdom, and, *I am able to exercise* wisdom.
Perhaps, can we say that wisdom is both the deposit and the ability to employ the deposit.
Both passive and active forms are wisdom.
(End of Detour — ’nuff!)
So: If one is attached to Christ, Christ is your wisdom. Paul says as much all over the place.
One of Paul’s famous statements is, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”
Paul has become a proxy for Christ’s action within the world. Not that he is possessed as one might be possessed by a spirit, so that his personality is extinguished; rather, the life of the loved one has so captured Paul that the genuine Paul, his better self, is expressed through Christ.
Another famous Paul saying is, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Again, wisdom-y echoes are all over there.
So read these selections from Colossians along with me, if you can:
Colossians 1 Verse 3: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven … something has altered the Colossian believers’ former way of thinking. A new fact or new reality has intruded. Something has dawned on them. Whatever it is, it is stored up or waiting for them in a realm above.
Colossians 1 (9) we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work …Paul makes an explicit prayer for their wisdom! The wisdom, though, is not as an end in itself. It is rather a means to know and do God’s will.
Love expressed in service may properly be the goal of Christian education.
Stay alert Newell!
Marx said famously that the point of philosophy is to change the world. Inert knowledge is useless, literally. “INUTILE, Monsieur!” as Tintin says.
Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Now the content of the wisdom. Former life, new life. Remember! He is saying.
Colossians 1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
Seems more abstract but is in line with what the early Christians were (more) obsessed about (than we late Christians really credit: the defence of Christian belief that depended on the same scripture as Jews possessed, but which radically differed in the interpretation of that scripture). (The only Bible they had was the “Old Testament”! The apostles were themselves the witnesses of the “New Testament.”) Hold that thought…
Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death
There it is! There has been a time dimension to “wisdom.” Not everything was revealed at once. It took centuries for the full plan to unroll. The most recent installment is signaled in verse 22: BUT NOW.
Yes, the early verses sound timeless, like the prologue of the New Testament Gospel of John does: In the Beginning was the Word…etc. But come to the end and you see Paul’s presentation of God’s plan for a non-Jewish audience. The full wisdom of God – let’s knock it home here – has only been revealed in and through Christ, says Paul.
Colossians 1: 24 …the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Again, hear that BUT NOW quality. History is the arena of God’s revelation. Certain events in history have been definitely “interpreted” by God so that we can read all the rest of history and all of our lives in the light of that definitive interpretation. Wow.
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
The ability to extend that interpretation into my lived experience, and you to me, and me to you, is our shared wisdom, of which I have some and you have some. I read my life and my society’s life in the light of The New Testament Interpretation, which is Christ.
Christ transformed the “Old Testament” into its fullest reading, Christians must believe. I know that this discussion can be highly controversial, and other people shuffle the deck differently. But I can’t see how you can have a unified Bible if Christ is not the key to both testaments. He is our wisdom.
What do you say!