Too much study makes Jane a dull girl?

Sometimes I post my book reviews on It never fails: when I post a negative review of a book, those who love the book will write to tell me how ridiculous I am or how I just don’t “get it.” Such is the case regarding my review of The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning.

The common thread that runs through the feedback for that review (from Amazon readers and one DR reader) is the idea that my religion and doctrine are the problem. Those individuals assert that religion and doctrine not only prevent me from appreciating Brennan Manning’s message, but they are also a barrier to experiencing the love of God.

Manning leads his readers to believe that too much study of God and adherence to fundamental truths make one dull, puts God in a box, and limits the kind of relationship a person can have with God.

Agree or disagree? Is there a middle ground?

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days (this is the post that keeps on going). I want to write my opinion, but I have to go to the pool right now. It’s tough, but some mommies have to do it; it’s the only way we’re going to survive this heat. So, I’m opening the comments for discussion.

Here’s my first thought:
Sound biblical doctrine gives foundation and shape to all of my life and relationship with God.

4 Comments on “Too much study makes Jane a dull girl?

  1. Me first? Well, my initial thought is this: God's love is best understood in light of sound doctrine. In other words, His grace and His mercy are all the more profound as I consider my own sinfulness and depravity. Though by no means do I mean to infer we must constantly dwell on our own badness–that is in itself a twisted form of pride and self preoccupation. Rather, as I consider BOTH what I am saved from and what I am saved to–then my heart is moved to greater surrender/awe/worship of the Only One worthy. How great is the Father's love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died!Good question. I'll be following the comments closely!


  2. I agree. It strikes me as either amazing hubris or astounding ignorance, and maybe a combination of the two, that some believe you can know what you have not studied. No employer will hire a candidate that has not studied the job. Can you imagine IBM hiring someone who has no knowledge or expertise in computers but is seeking a computer related position? No higher academic program will take a candidate that has not studied in the preferred area. Imagine if as an English major, I decided to pursue a doctoral degree in biology but hadn't taken more than intro biology.So why, why, why, do people think that they can have a true and thoughtful relationship with God or with Christ when they have not studied His words, His teachings, His works, His gospel, His doctrines, His prophecies, His psalms, His prayers, or His theology.Can you tell it makes me crazy? Great question. I hope to see some lively discussion.


  3. I love what Elle wrote and whole-heartedly agree!However, I do think we can mistake knowledge of God for relationship with God. In other words we can think because we have an intellectual understanding of the nature and character of God that we fail to cultivate an intimate relationship with Him; because we meditate on the finished work of Christ we fail to long to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus as the apostle Paul did.We can also mistake an increase of knowledge for growth in godliness.So I agree with all you're saying and read your review but wonder if those of us who love doctrine forget about relationship with God and that it is the Spirit of God who sanctifies not our own increasing understanding.Both go hand in hand, in my view. Knowledge AND relationship.


  4. I agree with all of you. I would add that my experience has been that my emotions are more stirred after a time of study. Music and lyrics are better, my prayer times are better, etc., after I've spent time studying scripture. Edwards writes about the connection between our intellect and affections, and I've found his assessment to be true in my life. I question those who say that they've had experiences with God that did not include time spent in his word. I do not believe that building a relationship with God based on his word alone places him in a box or hinders my relationship with him in any way. If I remember Edwards correctly, there is a lengthy portion of The Religious Affections where he discusses knowledge divorced from our affections…that our study ought to inflame our hearts toward Christ, that our hearts will be awakened with affection for Jesus and all his perfections. If study does not move the heart also, then, like Melanie said, we can study God and not have a relationship with him.Great comments! Thanks for taking the time to chime in.


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