23 May 2020: Educational blindness.

What are you talking about Weka? This is a lectionary post. And you are talking education? Yes, we know it is broken, but why?.

Because the disciples of the Rabbis challenged Christ, and the sons of the prophets acknowledged Elisha.

Let’s start with Elisha. He had been anointed by Elijah  as his successor as prophet, and had prayed that he would receive a double portion of the spirit of God. He had seen the chariots of fire. He proclaims his prophetic ministry with an act of power, akin to Joshua stopping the banks of the Jordan after the death of Moses. The sons of the prophets knew their law and the prophets and the histories, though they were not fully written, and saw that the spirit of God was upon him.

Because of an act of power.

2 Kings 2:13-15

13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

The sons of the prophets were aware of the cost of following the LORD. Most if not all had been killed by Jezebel, to the point where Elijah had complained to the Almighty that he was the only one left. It was a costly thing to be a prophet of the most high in that time, and those who sought such were sustained by the miracles that the prophets experienced.

It was not scholarly, it was visceral.

Fast forward if you will to the temple of Herod. Jesus is teaching. The disciples were the pupils of the Rabbis, and in those days education was an apprenticeship: a trained disciple would be like his rabbi, and be able to do what he was able to do.

There were two such schools of thought: the elite were Sadducees, denying angels or the resurrection, and compromised with the imperial rulers, trying to preserve the nation from the legions. The Pharisees acknowledged angels and the resurrection, and were the people who taught the populace, but were mistrusted by the elite.

I am uncertain as to whom was asking the questions of Christ, but his answer was as accurate as it was unwelcome. You were educated by your rabbis in the tradition of men. I was taught by God, and taught well, for what he commands I do. And your education has damned you.

Please note that these men, who considered themselves erudite, were instead blinkered. They could not understand what Christ was saying.

John 8:21-30

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

The issue here is not intelligence. Many were able to believe in him. It is falling into habits of thought that make only certain ways of expression or methods of acting acceptable. No, I am not denying learning. Yes, I have degrees.

But the risk for those with credentials is that they take pride in them and feel that they have been educated, when the training is merely the start. We do not know far more than we know.

If education leads to humility, then it is a great good. But those who instead have pride in that achievement: the elite status of their college, and the fame of their professors may find themselves as blind as the ancient Jews who debated with Christ.

May we never be accounted as such.