The Storehouse

Knowledge is not created. Knowledge is discovered.


In The Island of Lost Maps Miles Harvey asks “why the sense of discovery seemed to play such an important role for the [map] collector.”  During an interview with Werner Muensterberger, a psychology expert and author of Collecting: An Unruly Passion, Harvey explored the explorer’s mind:

“Think of the word: dis — cover—to take the cover off and see what’s there,” Muensterberger began, “It goes very deep for the collector: I want to find out.  And what you really want to find is, Where do I come from?  What is the source? That is discovery—finding something no one knew before, and you didn’t know before.”[1]

Discovery has much the same sense as “revelation:” to uncover or disclose for the purpose of further understanding.[2] Earthly penchant for learning new things comes from Heaven: “It is the glory of God to conceal things but the glory of kings is to search things out.”[3] Kings in the ancient world were considered similar to a 21st C. “patron of arts and sciences.”[4] State sovereigns’ pursuit of new intellectual thought was to bring honor to the universal Sovereign.  As God has revealed Himself in His creation, so humans discover the creation The Creator has revealed.

Consequently I am perplexed when I read that someone is keeping their knowledge a secret from the rest of us.  Online advertisements, for instance, entice the viewer to consider how someone lost 47 pounds because they followed “this one secret.”  Of course the draw is to get a person interested in the purchase of a product.  The secret can be bought and sold.  Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code made Gnostic[5] secrets famous.  During the first century The Church was besieged by people who believed they had a special knowledge.  Indeed, if you wanted “the secret to life” you had to join their sect.  Knowing Gnostic secrets meant payment was due in some form.

John and Paul smashed the pomposity of Gnostic heresies in their books of 1 John[6] and Colossians.  It is Paul’s phrase in Colossians 2:3 in particular that lampoons belief in secret information: “in whom [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”[7] Paul’s admonitions hold at least four truths that all believers should apply to the Christian concept of study.

(1) Christ is the storehouse of knowledge (“hidden treasures”).  Christ is the layaway for the world’s information and its application: it is laid up, treasured, stored away.[8] Paul uses the Greek word that we still use today: thesaurus. A storehouse of words now, was a storehouse of valuables then.[9] Jesus said a person focuses their attention on values they think are important, made obvious by life choices.[10] Proverbs 20:15 indicates that while financial riches exist “the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”  Accumulation of Heaven’s wealth means a bank account focused on Heaven’s view of mental health.

(2) Christ’s knowledge is exclusive (“in whom”).  “In” in Greek can tell both the location and instrumentation of a subject.[11] So, there are no brute facts.  Neutrality is a myth.  Equality of beliefs is impossible.  A Christian view of study is broadminded in the sense that everything is open for investigation.  A Christian, however, is close-minded (as is everyone to their own beliefs) in this: all knowledge is from and through Christ.  John W. Peterson’s hymn “A Student’s Prayer” ties application to instruction:

May the things we learn, so meager, never lift our hearts in pride

Till in foolish self-reliance we would wander from Thy side.

Let them only bind us closer, Lord, to Thee, in whom we find

Very fountainhead of Wisdom, Light and life of all mankind.

(3) Christ is the source of knowledge (“wisdom and knowledge”).  In Greek thought knowledge came through the senses and wisdom was equivalent to philosophical speculation.[12] Paul’s use of the terms is exactly opposite.  Hebrews personalized the Heavenly origin of knowledge in wise living.  The believer listens to the Personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:34 as she says “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors” (ESV).  Arthur Holmes links a Christian view of study with similar themes that shaped St. Bonaventure’s approach to learning:

Wisdom is written everywhere, Bonaventure insists, and the world is like a book written front and back, or a mirror imaging the presence of God in its order and beauty and light. . . . God’s goodness emanates like a light diffusing itself throughout the entire creation; he is the exemplar, the Logos of all created things, and he is the one to whom it leads and for whom it all exists.[13]

(4) Christ’s control of knowledge is universal (“all”).  As I often tell my students, “’All’ means all and that’s all, ‘all’ means.”  Abraham Kuyper’s oft quoted sentence is clear, ‘there is not one square inch of earth over which Christ does not declare ‘I am Lord!’

Erasmus made his point earlier in Church history: “All studies, philosophy, rhetoric are followed for this one object, that we may know Christ and honor him.  This is the end of all learning and eloquence.”[14] Human attempts either to fathom or discover more of Christ’s knowledge—even of their physical realm—“are but the outer fringe of his works.”[15]

A portrait of Michael Faraday hung in Albert Einstein’s office.  It was Faraday’s work that made Einstein a household name.  “Fields of force,” Faraday’s brainchild, impacts the intellectual world of physics through today.  Faraday was raised in a Christian home.  At his death, Faraday’s well worn Bible was especially focused on Job’s creational commentary.  In an 1845 scientific address Faraday stated his belief that the “various forms under which the forces of matter are made manifest have one common origin.”[16] Though not trained as a scientist, he was a collector of what he saw in God’s world.  Whether one searches for maps or quarks, the very idea of study depends on something to study.

Christ Himself is the vault of all earthly wisdom without whom no study would be accomplished.

Mark is president of The Comenius Institute.

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[1] Miles Harvey. 2000. The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime. (G.K. Hall): 298-91.

[2] Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest. 1987. Integrative Theology: Knowing Ultimate Reality. Vol. 1. (Zondervan): 61.

[3] Proverbs 25:2 (ESV).

[4] Robert L. Allen. 1983. Proverbs: A Commentary on an Ancient Book of Timeless Advice. (Baker): 181.

[5] The word “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word for “knowledge.”  Any Bible dictionary would give background information on the group.  After reading descriptions it becomes clear that Gnostics exist in every culture.

[6] Another key Gnostic doctrine maintained that the physical body was “bad.”  The implication clearly attacked the incarnation (coming in flesh) of Christ.  1 John 1:1-3 and 4:1-6 excoriates the false teaching.

[7] In fact, the very next words out of Paul’s pen warn of arguments meant to delude Christians.

[8] John Eadie. 1856, 1977. Colossians. (James & Klock): 181.

[9] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida. 1989.  Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. 2nd ed. (United Bible Society): 1:86.

[10] Matthew 6:21; 12:35, 52; Luke 12:24, 33, 34.

[11] H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey. 1955. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. (Reprint, MacMillan): 105

[12] Larry Richards. 1985. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. (Zondervan): 383, 629.

[13] Arthur F. Holmes. 2001. Building the Christian Academy. (Eerdmans): 43-44.

[14] Desiderius Erasmus. 1528. Ciceronianus. Quoted by D. Bruce Lockerbie in A Passion for Learning: The History of Christian Thought on Education, (Moody, 1994): 136.

[15] Job 26:14, NIV.

[16] Daniel J. Boorstin. 1983. The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself. (Random House): 679-83.

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