June 19, 2019
Pr. Paul Cannon
Too Much Learning
“You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!”
Isaac is a sponge. He soaks up just about everything he hears and can recall and repeat it (which is why we have to be extra careful with the words we use around him!). He loves reading about dinosaurs, learning about how things get made (thanks Richard Scary), or digging into this National Geographic for Kids magazines. Often, he’ll recite a fact to me about something he’s learned through TV or books that leave Kirstin and I somewhat dumbfounded (and slightly better informed).
At the age of four, I can say with confidence that he just likes to learn. It’s a great quality that we, as a society, love and celebrate at all turns. We hail learning breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology. We marvel when great skyscrapers go up and touch the heavens. We spend vast amounts of money on new gadgets that make our lives easier (those poor cavemen who had to toast their bread over a fire!).
Learning is something that seems to be celebrated in all avenues of life … except when it comes to religion. For some reason religion and learning is taboo for some people. As if all learning about religion stopped 2,000 years ago with Jesus (or maybe just 500 years ago with Martin Luther).
But what if there is still more to learn?
Religion always seems to look backwards. We look at ancient texts and try to discern exactly what Jesus meant when he said, ___________. We study long dead theologians and debate the merits of their long dead arguments.
But at its heart, religion is not about looking backwards, but about looking forwards. It’s like what I always tell Isaac when he’s running down the driveway, “Look in front of you!” Those who run looking backwards tend to scrape their knees.
No. Religion is about building on what we know and understand about God, and applying it in new ways. It strikes me, that in our reading from the book of Acts, Paul is accused of learning too much! The problem with Paul, is not that he knows too much about the Old Testament – there were many Pharisees who could recite the whole thing from memory! The problem with Paul was that he learned to apply God’s love in new ways. Gentiles/Jews, Men/Women, Slaves/Free. Paul determined that God’s love was meant for them all.
Today, we are still learning, and I hope that you can continue learning with us.