>What’s with all the Wisdom-Haters?


Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. [1 Corinthians 3:18]

That scripture was recently quoted to me by a reader who disagreed with some of my conclusions. The implications of his comments were clear; “don’t think of yourself as wise or you shall be made a fool.”

Over the years I’ve witnesses a rising trend of “wisdom-haters” both on-line and through more traditional media. Somewhere in the last several years a good education and wisdom gained from careful study and experience has become something to scorn and question rather than revere. Maybe it started in the 60s, (“Don’t trust anyone over 30”) I don’t know but it has clearly accelerated recently.

Information is no longer locked up in ivory towers, the domain of an elite few. We live in the age of the Internet where information is free and easy. Gaining knowledge on almost any subject is only a mouse click away. But mere knowledge isn’t enough.

Understanding, figuring out what it all means and how to apply it, that’s intelligence. As we gain more knowledge we must also be intelligent with its use, otherwise we just become walking encyclopaedias. We’ve all met people like this, in high-school my best friend Jason coined the term Functionally Stupid to describe them, fountains of information with no social skills or ability at practical application.

But knowledge and intelligence can only take you so far. There is a third stage that often gets overlooked. Now more than ever the world requires people to not only be intelligent but also wise. Intelligence by itself leads to arrogance, an air of superiority brought upon by your vast knowledge but wisdom, the ability to distinguish right for wrong, fact from fiction and truth from lies, is also requires humility.

I’m not claiming any special wisdom for myself here but we learn from the story of Solomon that true wisdom is a gift from God as a reward for a humble heart and not something to be taken lightly.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” .. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” …I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. [1 Kings 3:5,9,12]

We’ve seen it time and time again. Wisdom and humility go hand in hand. That’s why it’s so hard to find a wise person who will actually admit it. Wise leaders are the ones that change the course of history while no one’s watching; Ghandi and Dietrich Bonheoffer are two, there have been countless others.

Knowledge is easily gained and Intelligence is just a poor cousin of true wisdom. It’s wisdom that I look for in others and that which I pray for myself every day.


  1. Andrew33 says:

    >Remember: knowledge is just that. What fruit was it that introduced man to sin in the Garden of Eden? The fruit of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. Apparently the vegetables from the tree of wisdom which was about 13.7 meters from the Tree of knowledge wasn't quite ripe yet (wisdom takes time and experience to develop). Adam and Eve, like too many simply wanted to grow up before they were ready so they chose the fruit over the vegetables and it ultimately killed them.You are correct about the lack of wisdom. This is especially true regarding the Bible, which is full of both knowledge and wisdom. The real shame of it is that we have more accurate info regarding Bible interpretation and history and it is often taken for granted. People a century ago would have sold everything they own to have what we do in that area.

  2. Knee-Mail says:

    >Strange that you chose this as your subject for today, because I was teaching a room full of children just yesterday about the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Since these were youngsters ranging from the first to the sixth grade, I had to keep it simple of course, so I merely explained to them that being wise means making the best choices and decisions which are pleasing to God. I also told them that the most educated and knowledgeable people in the world may not be wise and even people who have no education may be very wise. It is a very difficult concept to teach the little ones, but I just thought it interesting that our thoughts connected somewhere along the line.Keep on thinking, wisely,Brenda Carsonhttp://brendasbabblings.blogspot.com

  3. >From the US (and maybe Anglican) point of view, we are running short of knowledge and intelligence, even. People profess to believe the strangest things and act as though they really did, where even just intelligence would lead them to act otherwise (see the recent US elections). But true wisdom is a rare event, I fear, and all too seldom to be found where it is needed most. I can think of only two current world "leaders" that show signs of it (they, of course, deny any such claim)and they are powerless figureheads at best: the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. But then, I think that wisdom always comes with a twinkle in the eye.

  4. >Lauren, your comments on wisdom and education make sense to me. Frustrating?As the book says, "Here a little, there a little, line upon line and precept upon precept."Pointing out too much at once seems to be a flaw of mine. Gets them upset at me. Ideally, people have to find their own way, with a minimum of guidance. Cheers.Frank

  5. Anonymous says:

    >You prize wisdom-and like "The Passion of the Christ"? Seriously, one of the ugliest movies ever made, in every possible sense of the word.

  6. Lauren Sheil says:

    >I don't usually publish anonymous comments but I just had to publish that one – Part of wisdom is accepting truth even when it's hard to look at. Crucifiction is ugly, the events surrounding the death of Christ including the anti-semitism it spawned were some of the ugliest events in all of recorded history, there are no two ways about it.Trying to gloss over or deny those facts is the opposite of wisdom.

  7. Jason says:

    >Hey, I got props here. :DThere has been a growing trend particularly in Western countries, towards an ever growing distrust of anything even approaching knowledge or wisdom. Despite mountains of evidence, people refuse to accept even basic ideas. I honestly believe this is primarily politically motivated. By routinely setting up situations where you can discredit anyone who might claim to have information that you don't have, various groups have maintained political power.

  8. Beggar says:

    >I love your friend's category of Functionally Stupid — with his permission, I'd like to make it a part of my own vocabulary! It reminds me very much of something a minister friend of mine used to say of persons who had gotten caught up in seeking spiritual experiences, "They're so heavenly minded, they're no earthly good." A slightly different spin than that of your friend, but along the same lines, I think, nevertheless.

  9. Marymanard says:

    >I've run across this general sentiment myself. too often if it cannot be proven by a scientifically knowledgeable person, it is simply not accepted as truth, regardless of the wisdom in it.I also like the term Functionally Stupid, but I think that is what children are taught to be in public schools, so full of useless information, with barely a shred of helpful experience. it is such a waste. I know a 15 yr old boy whose parents don't teach him anything useful and the schools haven't helped and at 15 he cannot cook and egg or build a fire, or even operate a washing machine, but he knows all the useless trivial information the schools could teach him without a single tool for application of that knowledge.

  10. Lauren Sheil says:

    >marmanard – one of my inspirations for this post was a 23 year old I met a few months back. 4th year of University, ran out of gas while driving home from the bar one night and couldn't understand why the car stopped! Worst part, his mother got up at 3 in the morning to go pick him up and said "boys will be boys". My reponse – "idiots will walk!"

  11. Rocco says:

    >I agree it is important to teach children life skills. YOu can learn a lot of facts but if you don't know how to fill your own gas tank, make a simple meal, run a laundry machine, write a check or use a computer = then its hard to make it in this life. Practical tools are just as important as book learning.

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