The Deadly Weapon of Learning

By: Matteo Mortelliti, Pastoral Leader at the180

There’s a rumour going around our culture telling us that the more we know, the more valuable we are. “Knowledge is power,” as the old adage proclaims.

If we get the chance, many of us are willing to pay big bucks to get ourselves or our kids into the best schools because we believe that knowledge equals success.

Today, more than ever, we have increased access to information—loads of it! If I want to know the answer to the most asked question on Google in 2015, I can find out. I can look up life hacks for getting things done around the house. If I want to know the meaning of an obscure Biblical passage, I can find countless articles—or maybe just ask Siri.

This is something we can celebrate—indeed, our access to information can add a new twist to a Scripture like Proverbs 18:15 that says "The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out”—however, technological advance has changed learning forever and this demands a new kind of thoughtfulness.

The problem, as with any good thing, is that our ability to access infinite information may give us the illusion that we can know everything about something. With information overload comes opinion overload—we consume the information of our choice and get duped into believing that we’ve got all the answers. This is when learning—something good—can become a deadly weapon.  

Surprisingly, the Bible warns us of how learning can become deadly.

As Christians, we sometimes feel the need to know with absolute certainty what certain passages of Scripture mean. We can believe that to be a real Christian is to be a person with a complete understanding about everything in the Bible and everything about God. In fact, this attitude can be seen in the typical way Christians deal with skeptics . Rather than listening and exploring the questions that they ask, Christians have preferred to place their hands on their ears, stomp their feet and proclaim that “The Bible says so!” We’ve found it difficult to get honest about the very necessity that calls us to faith: doubt.

In some Christian circles, our absolute confidence about what the Bible says and doesn’t say becomes a badge of spiritual authority because we’ve bought into the lie that the more we know, the more valuable we are. According to this logic, to be a leader is to know it all, without doubt or question.

At the180, we are embracing a different view of learning.

Learning at the180 is not about having all the answers, but about having a posture that never stops pursuing understanding. Our desire is that our leaders model an awareness that all of our knowledge comes from a perspective and bias, and show a willingness to engage with the questions of skeptics. We want leaders at the180 to be able to say, “I don’t know, but let’s explore that question together."

We know that learning is not something we do best on our own, but together, as a community of disciples. Leadership at the180 is about getting honest with ourselves and with one another about our own doubts and our own brokenness, and acknowledging the reality that seeking out knowledge and wisdom will never end as long as we live.

We desire to see leaders at the180 become life-long learners. 

The best lesson we can learn in an age of information (and opinion) overload is the lesson of character—our challenge is to desire to have a "discerning heart" that continually acquires knowledge, and to seek out wisdom, but not to ever, ever think we have arrived. Rather, we must let our learning make us into better people, people who are slow to speak and quick to listen.

When that happens, the deadly weapon of learning becomes a force for good.

One of the reasons that we host Leadership Sundays at the180 is to encourage and foster this kind of learning posture in leadership.

If you are making the180 your home, or if you’re curious about our values, especially in leadership, join us for coffee, conversation, and teaching in a classroom-style setting! Our next Leadership Sunday is THIS Sunday June 5 at 9:30am.