Thursday, September 17, 2009

Church Doctrine at Church: Introduction Part 2

I've had several Bible and theology professors over the years that went straight from getting their PhDs to teaching without ever doing any significant work in a church setting. I don't think there ought to be any hard rule against this, but it does seem to me kind of like getting a business degree and then turning around and teaching business without ever having run or even worked in an actual business. In retrospect, I can think of several OT, NT and theology professors I've had both in college and in seminary that fit this description who were far more prone to wander off into discussions that were either distractions or of only marginal significance to the life of the church than those professors who did their work from a primarily pastoral perspective.

This has become very important for me. A few years ago I heard the late Dr. Ray Anderson (what a loss!) say in a class lecture that there are certain theological truths in scripture that are only available to those who are involved in the ministry of preaching the gospel to real people. This rocked me. Since first switching majors to theology in college, I was horrified at the idea of becoming a pastor; I wanted to teach theology, not listen to people's problems. Dr. Anderson's words called me to repentance, but even more they opened up to me the real reason I was studying theology: to be, and to help others to be, more effective ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My academic interest is in systematic theology, dogmatics, Christian doctrine, not practical theology or spiritual formation or soul care. However, I'm approaching my doctoral work in systematics not exclusively as preparation for teaching, though I do want to teach, but as preparation for the pastorate. I intend this to be a controlling factor in the development of my own theology and therefore of this blog.

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