Thinking Out Loud

May 1, 2011

Knowledge about God is not Intimacy with God

At the end of the month, Zondervan will release Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman, host of the H2O video series and teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville.  I’ll be reviewing the book closer to the release date, but in the meanwhile, here’s an excerpt:

Fans have a tendency to confuse their knowledge for intimacy.  They don’t recognize the difference between knowing about Jesus and following Jesus.  In Church we’ve got this confused.  We have established systems of learning that result in knowledge, but not necessarily intimacy.

Think about it:  We love having Bible studies, many of which include some kind of workbook.  We go through a Bible curriculum that often has homework.  Sermons are often accompanied by an outline where members can take notes and fill in the blanks.  Many preachers refer to their sermons as a lesson or a lecture. If you grew up in the church then you probably went to Sunday school where you had a teacher.  In the summer you may have gone to Vacation Bible school

Now don’t get me wrong, studying and learinng from God’s word is invaluable.  Jesus referenced, read and quoted all kinds of passages from the Old Testament, ample proof that he had studied God’s Word with great care and diligence.  The problem isn’t knowledge.  The problem is that you can have knowledge without having intimacy.  In fact, knowledge can be a false indicator of intimacy.  clearly where there is intimacy there should be growing knowledge, but too often there is knowledge without a growing intimacy.  …Knowledge is part of intimacy, but just because there is knowledge doesn’t mean there is intimacy.

Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan.


  1. My own prayer life transformed because of a thought along these same lines.

    Thinking about prayer is not prayer. Learning about prayer is not prayer. Praying is prayer.

    Comment by Cynthia — May 1, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    • I remember learning the general, broader principle here from my dad many, many years ago. At the very earliest days of the modern worship chorus movement, there was a song called, “Let’s Just Praise the Lord.” He often remarked that singing, “Let’s Just Praise the Lord,” did not, in and of itself, constitute praising the Lord.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 1, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  2. […] excerpt from the forthcoming book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.  If you wish to, you can read that by clicking here.   Reading further into the text, I found a list of four criteria which Kyle suggests we can use […]

    Pingback by Assessing Your True Priorities « Christianity 201 — May 1, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  3. Phil 3:10 “That I may KNOW HIM” – not that I may know ABOUT Him.

    2 Timothy 1:12 “I know WHOM I have believed” – not IN Whom I have believed.

    To KNOW Christ, to EXPERIENCE Christ, to have a continuing, constant RELATIONSHIP with Christ is life-changing!

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — May 3, 2011 @ 12:33 am

  4. I finally figured out several years ago that knowing the Bible was not the same as knowing
    Christ. My life is richer and fuller with Christ as the center, and all that Bible knowledge is what Christ is using to teach me truth. I love him!

    Comment by Katherine Harms — May 4, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  5. I miss my intimacy with God. I have tasted of great knowledge, great spiritual gifts but nothing is better than just knowing Him and being in his presence!

    Comment by Antonio Fisher II — May 5, 2011 @ 12:24 am

  6. […] an excerpt of the book posted at Thinking Out Loud on May 1st and another at Christianity 201 on May 11th. Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Christian […]

    Pingback by Not A Fan: The New Title Readers and Booksellers are Looking For « Christian Book Shop Talk — May 23, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  7. Whoa, that a read.

    Comment by James D. Bourne — July 14, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  8. I quote a medieval text titled “The Cloud of Unknowing.”
    “By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought never.”

    What is ‘knowing?’ How do we know that we “know?” Where is the “locus” of knowing? Do we ‘know’ somewhere outside the confines of our consciousness?

    When I know “you,” what does that mean? Isn’t it merely that I have assimilated and accumulated memories and experiences of you that I have organized in the mental constructs of my consciousness as “you?” Are “you” the mental construct of my memories and experiences?

    Is “God” nothing more than my accumulated “experiences,” “memories,” “knowledge” and thoughts? Are my “experiences,” “memories,” “knowledge” and thoughts the Source of All There IS! Surely not!

    To paraphrase: If you do not love you do not know God, for God is love!

    That is difficult to grasp unless we have an understanding that Love is NOT “feelings” interior to my consciousness. My sitting in my bedroom having cozy, warm “feelings” for the starving children of Africa is not love, it is deluded self-indulgence!

    WE cannot “know” God! That is blasphemy! The only “I AM that I AM-God” KNOWS us, including our pretensions to the contrary!

    Comment by Don Thomann — December 13, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

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