Little by little I’m picking at C.S. Lewis’s Weight of Glory sermon, and I can’t help but enjoy this quote about the use of intellectual life in a Christian’s life. Not that I think I’m a very intellectual person, but I am a very curious person who likes to know things—sometimes for my benefit, and a lot of the times, not so much. Sometimes intellectualism is thrown to the extremes: either highly revered to the point of idolatry and hung up as a shiny badge that allows for condescension towards others, or it is thrown out of the chapel window because it is regarded as secular and the spiritual and intellectual should not be intermixed. Here is what Lewis says:
"The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us. Of course, it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested. That is the great difficulty. As the author of the Theologia Germanica says, we may come to love knowledge—our knowing—more than the thing known: to delight not in the exercise of our talents but in the fact that they are ours, or even in the reputation they bring us. Every success in the scholar’s life increases this danger. If it becomes irresistible, he must give up his scholarly work. The time for plucking out the right eye has arrived.”
Yet, there is a place for an intellectual life. He continues on:
"If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now—not be be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether. Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much of which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion."
Fun stuff! All in all, knowledge can be used for good and bad. Let us be people that possess knowledge, not for being knowledgable’s sake, but rather, in order to lovingly, humbly, and graciously bless others.