Let's start off with the fact that I'm not an expert in spiritual growth, OK. I'm trying to walk with Jesus the best that I can, but I'm pretty sure that there are times that he's dragging me along and shaking his head. But, a couple of things about spiritual growth came up that I want to explore. So, here we go.
Al Mohler is quoted as saying, "Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible" by Tim Challies (which I saw on Twitter). On the face of it, this seems like a reasonable statement. After all, the Bible is how we know about Jesus for the most part, so it seems like it's needed for spiritual growth.
On closer inspection, though, the argument breaks down. From a logical and historical point of view, there are problems. It follows from this statement that seminary professors and other well-educated people would necessarily be spiritually wiser than those less able to avail themselves of such knowledge. Yet, I dare say that we all know that this is just not the case.
It also doesn't work biblically. According to scripture, the way to grow spiritually is through trials. James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (See also Romans 5. And Job. And Lamentations.) Our walk with Jesus becomes closer and deeper with the more life that we live, particularly the hardships of life.
This brings me to the other quote I came across this week. "It is spiritually formative to be dissatisfied and unable to resolve it." Dallas Willard. Stop and read that again. He doesn't say that we learn something through resolving it. Rather, his point is that the very state of being stuck and not being able to fix it is the place where God wants us to be. That is the point where Jesus meets us.
Yes, the Bible is the foundation of our faith. Yes, we study and learn as much as we can about Jesus. But, our spiritual maturity comes not from books and computers; it comes from experience and time with Jesus. When we are dissatisfied and can't do anything about it, it's time to get real with Jesus.
This is why that statement by Mohler was so elitist. It assumes that every Christian has unlimited access to scripture. Many believers have limited access to Bibles and even less to commentaries, etc. Yet, they are not lacking in faith. They are living their faith and walking with Jesus with the scripture they know. I have a feeling that God's OK with that.