Summary: Being less than fully informed Christians can be injurious to ourselves and to our world. Ultimately we need to know Christ personally as much as we need to know about our faith.
Between knowing nothing and knowing a great deal there is something which is very dangerous. That is knowing a little. Knowing just enough to be dangerous.
In many instances, it isn't dangerous to be totally ignorant. If you don't know, and you know you don't know, you will go ahead and get help. I don't know about you, but I haven't attempted brain surgery in years. I know I don't know. It's not dangerous to be ignorant completely, because then you won't even touch it.
Nor is it dangerous to have a great deal of knowledge. If you are well-informed on some subject, either you know all you need to know, or you know how to find out the rest. They say that a major part of education is just teaching people how to learn. And so, I might not know the meaning of some word in the Hebrew Old Testament, but I do know how to find out. It isn't dangerous to have a good deal of knowledge, because that knowledge includes knowing how to find out.
But in between total ignorance and well-rounded knowledge, there is another place. And it is indeed a dangerous place. It is called, "knowing just enough to be dangerous." The woods are fu11 of such people.
The auto mechanic who knows how to get things torn apart, but who cannot get everything reassembled. Knows just enough to be dangerous.
The electrician who can hook it all up and make it glow, but who has unwittingly overloaded the system so that someday there will be a fire. Knows just enough to be dangerous.
The parent who has read a couple of government pamphlets on child-rearing and who just copies what her own mother did. Knows just enough to be dangerous.
Last week, I learned just enough to be dangerous. I learned WordPerfect. For those of you who are not yet ushered into the information age, WordPerfect is a computer word processing system. Ever since we got computers here at the church, every one of you who is computer literate has been screaming at me, "Why aren't we using WordPerfect?" And the answer was, "Because I don't know the system."
Well, now I know WordPerfect. As of last week, I learned WordPerfect.
And I can hear some of you snorting right now, "What do you mean, you KNOW WordPerfect? That would take you days and days, if not weeks, to learn. It's not something you pick up in one afternoon.
And you would be right, of course. You would be right on target. What I should be saying is that I know just enough WordPerfect to be dangerous.
For when our church secretary got into the material I had written for our Book of Reports and printed it out, she found all kinds of garbage. Margins changing in the middle of a paragraph; the size of the letters changing two or three times within a given word; bold print and underlining and assorted special effects showing up all over the place.
What had happened is that I had learned enough to be dangerous. I had learned a little about how to put all that stuff into my document, but had not taken the time to learn it in depth. And so my report was the most unbelievable assortment of weird computer commands you wi11 ever see. If it is at all readable in the book you will receive today, it is only because it was doctored by somebody who really knew what she was doing.
Sandwiched in between knowing nothing and knowing for sure is something else. Knowing just enough to be dangerous.
And the Christian who operates out of a folk theology, inherited from years of sitting through shouted sermons and singing silly songs; the believer who believes that the Bible is the word of God but who doesn't have the foggiest notion what it really contains; the church member whose spirituality is hazy and nothing more than a "feel-good" memory … we are in the same category. We know just enough to be dangerous.
The prophet Hosea reserved some of his most scathing language for those who failed at the point of knowledge. It was not that they had no knowledge; it was not that they were completely ignorant. It was that they knew just enough to be dangerous.
Listen: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
Let's think together for a few minutes about the destructive danger of too little knowledge.
First, I'd like you to see that when we arc in this twilight zone of knowing a little and yet not knowing very much, we are a danger to our selves. We are putting our own spiritual health in jeopardy.
Hosea speaks: "… with you is my contention, 0 priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also sha11 stumble with you by night."