Knowledge and wisdom are not the same things. As has been wisely observed, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. On a deeper level . . .
Knowledge has to do with knowing about created things; wisdom means knowing the Creator.
Knowledge means knowing facts about the past in order to make a good grade on your history exam; wisdom means learning the lessons of the past to plot a course for the future.
Knowledge knows how to make stuff, lots of it really cool; wisdom means knowing how to use what is made for the best purposes.
Knowledge may think that simply knowing facts equals wisdom; wisdom knows that only the incredibly foolish ever think of themselves as being wise.
Knowledge is tempted to be arrogant, puffed up because of what it knows; wisdom lives in humility knowing that everything it knows is evidence of how very little it knows, even as it is always seeking to learn more.
Knowledge points to glitz and technology and cool engineering tricks to amaze and thumb its nose at the past; wisdom knows that the glut and the glitz of its age (industrial or technological or informational) makes it not one bit truly wiser than ages past.
Knowledge knows stuff—and lots of it; wisdom knows that what is true and real and lasting is rooted forever in the One whose existence holds this world together, the only One who is constant, unchanging, forever true.
C. S. Lewis is the one, I think, who coined the term “chronological snobbery.” We are so easily—at all times and never more than now—tempted to think that increasing knowledge and information and, especially in our time, amazing technological advances, mean that we are wiser than those in all preceding ages. Really?
Oh, I love technology (and cool gadgets). I love being able to access incredible information at the click of a few keys. But wisdom is not dependent in the least upon technology, and burgeoning levels of information are no evidence at all of any increase in wisdom.
I may be afflicted with chronological snobbery in reverse. I can’t imagine how we can be such fools. Even ancient pagans, foolishly worshiping rocks and carved pieces of wood, were “wise” enough to worship something outside of themselves. How many of us today breathe God’s air, live on his spinning world, “thank” him by doubting, denying, or laughing at his existence, and crown our idiocy by worshiping ourselves? In our arrogance, we seem to think that everything from our gender, to the multiplication tables, to whether up is up or down is down depend our mood or the latest opinion poll. After all, it’s 2018, and technology and information abound. Are we not wiser than all who’ve come before us?
No, we’re not. I wonder if any society has ever been more foolish. The Apostle Paul pointed to the cross and told the truth that “even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
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Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.