Theology Survey (5): Doing and Learning

Question: How does “doing” and “learning” in the Christian life interact? Which is Jesus more pleased by?

#1: My first reaction to this question is to say Jesus was more about the doing. He reprimanded people for knowing everything but not doing anything with it. But on the other hand, he told us to watch our doctrine closely and to not lead people astray and to teach and admonish one another. We can’t do that excellently without learning. From what I have seen, the people who go and do are the ones who end up wanting to learn more. But the reverse doesn’t seem to be so true.

#2: Well, this is a complex question. In some fashion, in order to have a system of beliefs that is distinctly Christian, everyone must begin with some sort of learning. This learning isn’t necessarily school-style learning, but more of a period of studying the concept of god/God, and coming to some sort of realization.
Once that period ends, however, it’s pretty evident throughout the Bible that action is the right response to this study and self-realization. The process is much like deciding where to go to college: at some point you have to look around at all of the schools and come to a decision about where you’re going to go, but unless you actually go there, then the whole process is pretty pointless.

#3: I think that is it important to learn as much as you can about the Lord, and you can learn by doing. He is absolutely more pleased my doing. Jesus calls us to the Great Commission, which is about spreading His word and loving His people. This is not to say He doesn’t want us to learn, but after reading scripture, I feel like He wants us to “do.” In 1 Corinthians 13:13, it says “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love is about doing—as the old cliché goes, “love is a verb.”

#4: These should be integrated together. One happens and leads to the other and it can go both directions. Learning can lead to doing, and doing can lead to learning. Neither is more pleasing, both are necessary and appropriate responses to the call of Christ on someone. Theology should not be seen as the thing we get right, and action is where there is wiggle room.

#5: Just like the mind and heart are two in one, so is the action statement of doing vs knowledge (learning). However, I personally believe that positive doing is more beneficial than positive thinking. Sometimes our thinking, learning, meditating, whatever you want to call it, ends up sort of reaching a ‘high’ where some good can come of it, but it is never
o solidified in our character. The experiences we have, the process of trial and error through ‘doing’; growing from the positive or negative outcomes, can mold itself in my paradigm both mentally and spiritually.

#6: Doing and learning are inseparable in the Christian faith. We see this in the very foundation of our relationship with Christ; we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths (doing) that Christ is our Lord and savior (something we must be taught). No one can know God’s will or character fully without encountering his word (whether by reading, or hearing). Likewise, no one who’s learning about God through his word will grow unless he or she allows his heart to be transformed by the truth of the gospel and acts upon it. So, I would say Jesus is pleased by both, and both is best.

#7: I believe that doing and learning have a circular relationship. James tells us that deeds are/should be the result of our faith (which is generated by hearing (learning) about Christ). He says that faith without action is dead. I believe that Jesus is concerned with the heart (motives) of the person; therefore, I think that He is more pleased with the “doing” if it is accompanied by a pure heart. But I also believe that there is something to be said for “doing” that results in “learning”. Oswald Chambers wrote, “when you know you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more”; which, I guess, eludes to the fact that you had to learn something that you should do, but I think it also speaks to the point that often in the “doing” we also learn.

#8: There needs to be a balance of doing right in response to knowing the truth of the Gospel. Correct understanding of your relationship to/with God changes the motivation behind your actions. When you believe your salvation is dependent on your good works you may do the right thing for the wrong reason. However, knowing your salvation depends on God and the work of Christ on the cross motivates you do what it takes to bring others closer to Christ so that they may also be saved.

#9: Learning and doing should balance each other, and I feel should be the most vital, and maybe the only, components to Christianity. I’ve learned so much about my faith and myself since becoming a Young Life leader. I’ve also learned a lot about my strengths, weaknesses, obedience and faith that would’ve never came up if I wasn’t a leader. I’m glad to have learned what I have now during this life stage, which I will use as I grow old. I’ve realized more from being on the battlefield, aka the mission field, than steering clear from it…
I feel that the “doing” is like a “test.” If all you do is learn, what good is it? Your goal of that learning should be to pass the test, but you’ll never know how well you did if you never take that test.

#10: Belief is a lifestyle and not simply a truth in the mind. If we want to simplify things, as I believe Jesus came to do, we might say the following, “Know to the best of your ability that Jesus is the Savior of the World sent by God and model your life after his.” Jesus is not more pleased by either. These 2 actions of “doing” and “learning” must be combined into 1 action we call “belief”.

#11: There must be both, and they necessarily must interact. I’m frustrated because I don’t know what this balance is, but I know he is pleased by both. “Doing” is essential in the Christian life; our works do show our faith—our faith is dead without works. But you cannot possibly know what to “do” if you are not learning, if you are not growing, not seeing more and more the character of the Lord. You don’t know what it means to love, what it looks like to live in community, without first having the examples that we are provided with. If you don’t know and see the aspects of God’s love, then you can’t love someone as God would. If you don’t recognize the goodness of creation and the image of God in the world, you won’t treat it as if it is being redeemed. The point of the “learning” is that it will affect us. It should change the way we see the world as God’s perspective and our perspective become more and more alike and closer together. This doesn’t happen if we don’t engage in learning—seeking out truer and truer answers and conforming more to his likeness.

#12: I don’t know that these two can be differentiated. That is, by learning I mean the taking in of knowledge that affects, and changes. Learning is doing. I believe specifically in the Christian life that we learn by doing. They are completely intertwined. How often did Jesus’ teachings challenge people to action, to move, to change. Even if that was a change of heart. Jesus taught his disciples by pushing them into action. He urges us to be a people who learn by asking, seeking, and knocking. Learning by action. I think he is pleased with the outcome of the action, which is learning. But on the other hand I could say he is pleased with the outcome of learning, which is action. I don’t see Jesus as being limited in how he understood growth in the Christian life. Perhaps neither should we.

#13: Your actions as a Christian are defined by what you have learned. Additionally, you learn by doing as well. They are completely interconnected. As far as the Christian life goes I don’t know that you can divorce them. I do suppose that you can learn something and not do it, which is sin. Jesus would be more pleased by action.

#14: Learning is, depending on who you ask, more of a Greek imposition on Christianity than a Christian doctrine, as the Hebrews were historically doers, at least in the days of the fathers of the faith. At the same time, Jesus was incredibly learned of the scriptures, though he is a special case; he may have had to learn them: “…and the word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1, my emphasis) But, on the other hand, Jesus’ disciples were not the most learned of men and the Pharisees were very well educated. But, on yet another hand, Paul was very learned and in the end it served him.
As far as the interaction of the two, this is perhaps a bit of a loaded question, as no one will say that they just do things in the Christian life without learning anything. But I do not have a definitive answer; is doing without learning like shooting without aiming? Or is that analogy missing the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
I do not think that Christians were ever meant to be men in rooms reading all day, contemplating, interacting with no one. But perhaps there is a balance of the two, some very much on the doing side, others heavy on the learning side.

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