Some of the greatest Christian examples in my life are (and were) uneducated. They gave themselves to the study of God through the pages of the Scriptures. What a tremendous example it is for the uneducated factory worker to set before his family the importance of learning the Bible. It’s encouraging to witness the uneducated evangelist who travels to various churches preaching the gospel with no seminary degree but if you pricked him he would bleed Bibline.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Doctrine is not for me, I’m a blue collar kind of guy” as an excuse for not giving himself to study the Bible? The fact is, most of the people to whom the Bible was originally written and addressed were very uneducated. It might shock you to know that most of the people who received the letter to the Ephesian church (likely a circular letter that went to Ephesus and surrounding cities) were not seminary trained apologists. They were not ivory tower theologians. They didn’t find the deep wells of election and the doctrine of regeneration in Ephesians 1-2 as complicated truths cloaked in mystery and only useful for the seminary classroom or moderated debates.
Have you considered the life and ministry of John Bunyan? An uneducated man in Bedford England with a grade school education who worked as a tinker (metal worker) was once raised up by God to be a mighty preacher. Not only was he a man who proclaimed the Word, but he was likewise a pastor-theologian. He didn’t stand up in the pulpit and after reading a deep theological truth say, ‘I don’t know that this means.” Instead, he labored in the Bible and studied to rightly proclaim the gospel.
John Owen was a learned man and a great scholar of his day. He was also a contemporary of John Bunyan. When Bunyan would travel to England, if any notice was given at all, upwards of 1,000-1,200 people would gather at 7:00am before work to hear the uneducated metal worker preach the gospel. Owen would often travel 20 or more miles to hear the man himself. When King Charles heard of Owen attending the tinker’s sermons, he asked why he as an educated man would give himself to listening to an uneducated tinker preach? Owen replied, “I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker’s power of touching men’s hearts.”
Men can learn to remember statistics of every major sporting event, athlete, and race car driver. Uneducated men can learn to excel in their trade or occupation in life. Uneducated men and women alike can excel at whatever they so desire, but it’s the Bible that is often neglected. We need an army of uneducated blue collar men and women to once again give themselves to the study of the Bible. Another generation is watching and waiting. When we are gone, will our legacy be a building of wood, hay, and stubble or will it be something of eternal value?
I will never forget pastoring a small country church in Kentucky while I was in seminary. The congregation was made up of all blue collar workers and farmers. Not one single professional or highly educated person attended the church. After I issued a challenge to memorize large portions of the Bible, an 80 year old retired farmer approached me. He wanted to accept the challenge. He gave himself to study and read and commit to memory the third chapter of John’s Gospel. After completing it, he stood in the front of the church and recited it in full. I was amazed, humbled, and grateful all at the same time.
Anyone can learn Bible doctrine. In fact, that’s what God intends for all of us—educated and uneducated alike.
Mark 12:30 — And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.