May 6, 2009

The Pride of Scholars

Before, I supposed myself profound through Aristotelian dogmas and argumentation with men of limitless shallowness, when You touched me at my core with Your heavenly truth, dazzling me with Your scripture, scattering the clouds of my error, showing me how I was croaking with the frogs and the toads in the swamp.

Richard Fitzralph, Archbishop of Armagh (Mid-14th Century)

The recurrent temptation of those who have been blessed with the life of the mind, the contemplative life, is to find sufficiency in one's own mind. The above quote from Richard Fitzralph, a medieval theologian who exercised great influence upon John Wyclif, the so-called "morningstar of the Reformation," is only one such remonstration against such an attitude. As an historian at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary relays, the temptation to professorial elitisim was alive and well in the early 20th century.

Because scholarly pride continues to waylay the unwary academic in the early 21st century, I encourage my brothers and sisters in the academy to avoid such hubris as if it were a deadly virus. Some of my colleagues have wondered why I am so harshly critical of useless speculation in biblical and theological studies. The reason I despise scholarly pride is that it blinds us to our radical need for God and His grace towards us, both before and after justification. Academic arrogance also leads those who look to our words as authoritative down unbiblical paths. In other words, for me, scholarship or the scholar's attitude toward his or her work is fundamentally a spiritual issue.

After all, let us not forget that the first sin had to do with the tree of knowledge.


  1. Anonymous11:26 PM

    Well done my friend

  2. WOW.. thanks... I'll never get the image of croaking like frogs out of my head ever again!
    hahaha.. my word verification here is dead dingo! Hope this isn't prophetic!

  3. A timely reminder (especially for me) that should always remain in vogue.


Edifying comments always appreciated!