Knowledge and Wisdom, Notation and Music

Recently I spent several days at a monastery in quiet contemplation and learned a few things about knowledge and wisdom. Shortly thereafter I spent a few days using LilyPond software to score some music for our worship team. Putting both of these together has giving me a better understanding of the differences between theological knowledge and wisdom as demonstrated in mature Christian living.

The analogy goes as follows: writing a musical score is something completely different than playing or listening to music. Using the LilyPond software required a fair amount of technical knowledge. On the one hand one must understand something of how music works: keys, sharps, flats, timing signatures etc. On the other hand a form of scripting not unlike a computer program was needed for the software to produce a nicely formatted PDF file with the musical score. Now here’s the kicker, all that knowledge and effort did not produce one single note of music played.

A musical score is not a song. A song requires a musician who knows how to translate the musical score into reality so that others can enjoy it. The person who wrote the score may or may not be able to do this. And as is often the case the truly gifted musicians are not as gifted, when it comes to having a technical knowledge of music. That being said, there are also many who excel in both areas. Simply put, excellence in one area does not imply excellence in the other.

This is where I see the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge and especially theological knowledge has the ability to describe, document, categorize and explain life. Yet theological knowledge does not “play” life. Wisdom is found in a person who, just like a musician, can take the musical score from the theologian (pastor etc.) and implement it into the realities of life, so that knowledge achieves it’s God given goal.

Unfortunately many Christians (myself included) confuse discussions about the technicalities of musical scores with the playing of a beautiful song.


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