In his classic book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer offers the following reminder:
If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate and dismiss them as very poor specimens.(Packer, 21)
Knowing about God is essential, but it is not enough. There was a certain group of knowledgeable people in Jesus’ day, but they had a problem: they saw the knowledge as the end rather than the means. Here is Jesus’ response to this group:
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life… If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?(John 5:39-40, 46-47)
As academic disciple-makers, we want to make sure that our students know about God. But we don’t want to stop there. We want our biblical integration to show that Word and the world testify about Christ. And He is not a mere fact to be downloaded, but a Person to be honored, treasured, worshiped, and pursued. One goal of our work is to help students to know about God. But that goal serves a greater goal.
Knowledge about God is meant to help people live well in relationship with Him. When we know that He is faithful, we can live in faith. When we know that He is strong, we can trust Him to handle the things that are too big for us. When we know that He is kind, we can approach Him in repentance.
In other words, knowledge is meant to be fuel for worship. When you serve your students through biblical integration, remember that all the knowledge you teach your students about God is meant to help them know and rightly respond to Him. Part of your role as an academic disciple-maker is to be an academic worship-leader. As your students gain knowledge about God, give them the opportunity to respond to that knowledge in praise, wonder, repentance, fear, joy, and love.