You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. (John 5:39–40 The Message)
The promise of life and the invitation to desire has again been lost beneath a pile of religious teachings that put the focus on knowledge and performance.
History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be essentially concerned only with how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally. (The Divine Conspiracy)
Thus Willard describes the gospels we have today as “gospels of sin management.” Sin is the bottom line, and we have the cure. Typically, it is a system of knowledge or performance, or a mixture of both. Those in the knowledge camp put the emphasis on getting our doctrine in line. Right belief is seen as the means to life. Desire is irrelevant; content is what matters. But notice this—the Pharisees knew more about the Bible than most of us ever will, and it hardened their hearts. Knowledge just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you are familiar with the biblical narrative, you will remember that there were two special trees in Eden—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. We got the wrong tree. We got knowledge, and it hasn’t done us much good.