Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowledge; knowledge without zeal; neither knowledge nor zeal; both zeal and knowledge.
The first three condemned him. The last acquitted him, were excommunicated by the Church, and yet saved the Church.
In the above classic statement, Blaise Pascal divided humanity into four groups.
- Those who have zeal, but lack knowledge
- Those with knowledge, but lack zeal
- Those with neither zeal nor knowledge
- Those with both zeal and knowledge
Pascal pointed out that the only people who followed Christ and who were subsequently persecuted for Him were those with both zeal and knowledge.
Zeal without knowledge
Proverbs 19:2 teaches that “zeal is not good without knowledge.” Zeal without knowledge is dangerous because we can be deeply and sincerely passionate and completely misguided because we don’t know the truth. Or we aren’t submitting to the truth. We can live, sing, and speak loudly and passionately, and yet live, sing, and speak without true knowledge if our lives and words are devoid of His truth.
To grow in knowledge, we must constantly return to the sacred Scriptures which give us wisdom, are God-breathed, and equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Knowledge without zeal
Knowledge without zeal is equally dangerous. We can become scholastic bookworms who seek to know more and more about God without knowing Him, who seek to win arguments without winning souls, who are puffed up with knowledge but lacking in love, who know the Word but fail to do what it says. The end result of discipleship is obedience. And the end result of theology must be worship.
May the Lord rescue us from zeal without knowledge and from knowledge without zeal.