Of this I have the fullest experience; and I have also experience of timid, half-learned men whose shortcomings have cost me very dear. At any rate, my own opinion is that anyone who does not believe that God can do much more than this, and that He has been pleased, and is sometimes still pleased, to grant His creatures such favors, has closed the door fast against receiving them. (Teresa of Avila: Fifth Mansions: Chapter One)
Teresa had experience with skilled spiritual guides. She also had experience with “timid, half-learned men”. Her experience with the latter came at great cost.
Half-learned spiritual guides may articulate theological orthodoxy with eloquence, but their ability to effectively guide others is severely hampered by their limited focus:
- They don’t believe in God’s power.
- They don’t experience spiritual favors. Their lack of faith “has closed the door fast against receiving them.”
- They apply theology without wisdom.
My friend Nick was reading a book. As part of his reading and meditating, God changed his life. He gained freedom from addictions that controlled him for years. He shared this with one of his professors at the Christian college he attended. His professor explained why this book was “bad theology”. Nick abandoned his book and went “safely” back to his addictions and unhappiness. Now Nick teaches others how to be unhappy.