Sunday, April 19, 2015

Getting schooled on scholarship

A cursory reading of my blog might give the impression that I am against scholarship or that I am anti-elders or anti-any number of things. That is patently untrue. I am against the abuse of these things or the overemphasis of these things to the detriment of the rest of the ministry of the church. Scholarship is a prime example. I think the church needs more scholarship, not less, but needs it in the right way. Enter Dave Black, a scholar of some note in his own right, on that very topic:
My own view is that scholarship does not exist for its own purpose but only as a servant of Christ and the church. It serves God's purposes but must never control them. It serves the world as well, but must never forsake it. Servanthood is the key to biblical scholarship. Scholars, having received the benefits of their studies, now go forth into the life of the church to render to Christ that form of service or that ministry for which God has equipped them. The apostle Paul -- possibly the greatest Christian scholar who ever lived -- was fundamentally a missionary and church planter. What then is the scholar's role? He or she is a member and leader of the Christian community. Such leaders can be authoritative but never authoritarian. They serve to inspire and animate the congregation. They arouse enthusiasm for personal Bible study. They feed the church of the living God and develop the talents and energies of all God's people....
...Faith in Christ is a dynamic thing. It can't be confined to the halls of academia. We need to gratefully recognize the scholarly guild. It has done great things in Christian education. But it includes training for all aspects of discipleship, not just the intellectual. We biblical scholars need to ask: Are we as active in the church and the world as we ought to be? Do we "operationalize" biblical truth? Have we limited the term "interpretation" to an idealized representation of what the Bible meant? The old Scottish proverb was right:
Greek, Hebrew, and Latin all have their proper place, but it's not at the head of the cross where Pilate put them, but at the foot of the cross in humble service to Christ.
Think about it.
That mirrors my own thoughts. Scholarship in the church properly understood and practiced seeks to serve the church, not just the rarefied air of the academy or behind closed doors in the pastoral study. Scholarship that serves to invigorate the sending of the church on the mission of God is good, scholarship that seeks to puff up the scholar's reputation among his peers with no practical use in the church is not.

So study and scholar away my friends, just always remember that if it isn't serving the church, it really isn't serving Christ.

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