January 14, 2016 — 1 Corinthians 2:1–8
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
One of my favorite classes in Bible College was Systematic Theology II. In it I was able to shake off the dust of my faith, and move from a collection of things I believed to a robust and interconnected doctrine to call my own. For the uninitiated, systematic theology is a fancy way of saying that you are going to study what the whole Bible has to say about a specific topic — so that means you are going to look at verses all over the place to come to an understanding about what the Bible has to say about ______.
One of the most valuable take-aways from that class was an assignment to write a personal doctrinal catechism. It forced me to put into words exactly what I thought about a bunch of questions about the faith, and challenged me to give citations for why I believed the things I believed. This was an enriching and strengthening exercise that, albeit quite academic, something that I would encourage many people to undertake.
However, there is a danger in the American Christian mind to lean a little to hard against the pillar of systematic faith. Again, I can not stress enough how important seeing what the Bible had to say about what I believed was, but it also must be stressed that it was a very flawed David reading those verses.
In today’s reading, Paul was again talking about the fact that he came to the city of Corinth with fear and trembling, and not the ear-catching rhetoric of the Greeks. He said that the only thing he knew was Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. There is a certain level of humility that one of the writers of the very scriptures we read said that the only thing he decided to know among the corinthians was Jesus and His work.
However, among those who are more mature Paul said that there is a wisdom that he is willing to impart, but it is not a worldly wisdom. It is much more mysterious than that. It is God’s wisdom — a confounding wisdom. It is a secret and hidden wisdom Paul says, one that was set up before the start of the story of salvific history. This wisdom? Jesus’ atoning life, death, and resurrection.
This is not the robust, systematized, and well thought out wisdom of the world that is passing away, but the timeless, true, and remarkably simple, yet incredibly unimaginable wisdom of God. In our pursuit of understanding let us remember to take the humble approach of Paul who made the choice to know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. Our systematic theology should be built on the foundation of this truth, not the other way around.