The Path of Wisdom
I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. (Proverbs 4:11)
In Peter Enns recent book, "How the Bible Actually Works," he describes the Bible as, "ancient, ambiguous, and diverse." It is his argument against taking the Bible literally, suggesting that because of the language barriers, contradictions, and wide variety of teachings, we need to look at the Bible as MORE than a book of rules or simple answers. Instead, the Bible is, as Proverbs says, a path to wisdom.
Wisdom is more than simply knowing a bunch of facts about a subject. Wisdom is being able to take those facts and apply them to different situations. Wisdom is an ongoing conversation between what is known and what is unknown, slowly discovering what is true now while being fully aware that what is true now may not be true down the road. I believe this is why Proverbs calls wisdom "a way" or "a path" rather than a destination.
Wisdom is not popular in modern society. For the most part, we prefer answers over questions and are in too big a hurry to have that conversation wisdom requires. Just tell me what I need to know, preferable in a short sound bite, or maybe a quick Tweet, or better yet a funny meme.
To glean wisdom from the Bible, we need to put aside this idea that it has all the answers and be willing to ask the Bible some questions. Who are the blessed? Is it the poor (Luke 6:20), or the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3)? Am I saved by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), or by my good works (James 2:17)? Living the questions is the path to wisdom.
The path to wisdom is a little more difficult than the path of easy answers and blind obedience. But as Proverbs assures us, wisdom is worth the struggle. Proverbs 4:8-9 says, "Prize her highly and she will exult you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a fair garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown."
Sounds good to me.