For over two years I've been studying the relationship between epistemology (knowing) and ontology (being) through the lenses of rationalism (reason) and empiricism (experience). My inquiry, really, is nothing new. Everyone from Aristotle to Aquinas has addressed this question in some form or another, with not a few opinions. Do humans come to truly "know" something via reason or experience?
The reason this question is so important is because the western church has adopted what's known as the "educational model for social change." In other words, the more we "teach" you, most western church practitioners purport, the more likely you'll be on the road to conforming into the image of Christ. The problem with this theory is it doesn't work as well as we'd hoped;this is common knowledge in seminary and anthropological circles (Bernard, 2006:35).
It's no wonder Jesus gave us the "Come, follow me" model for discipleship. Obey me first, Jesus seems to assert, then come to understand me and my ways as a result.
One of the major premises of organic church life is that knowledge is superfluous outside of obedience to Christ. Neil Cole, for example, asserts that we in the west are "educated beyond our obedience." It's true.
Although space won't allow me to unpack all the implications concerning this fundamental shift in praxis, I'll leave you with this: "[What Christian's believe] gains power and meaning insofar as it is embodied in the total gestalt of community life and action" (Lindbeck, 1984:36). "'Right (communal) doing' seems in some sense a precondition for right understanding" (Bass & Volf, 2002:257).