Earlier today, Justin Taylor posted a quote from a forthcoming book by Douglas Sweeney entitled, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought. It highlights one of the points Sweeney makes from the life of Edwards; namely, that theology should be done in the context of the church, namely pastors. Here’s the quote:
In the early twenty-first century, when many pastors have abdicated their responsibilities as theologians, and many theologians do their work in a way that is lost on the people of God, we need to recover Edwards’ model of Christian ministry. Most best theologians in the history of the church were parish pastors. Obviously, however, this is not the case today. Is it any wonder, then, that many struggle to think about their daily lives theologically, and often fail to understand the basics of the faith? I want to be realistic here. A certain amount of specialization is inevitable in complex, market-driven economies. And the specialization of roles within God’s kingdom can enhance our Christian ministries. But when our pastors spend the bulk of their time on organizational matters, and professors spend the bulk of their time on intramural academics, no one is left to do the crucial work of shaping God’s people with the Word. Perhaps our pastors and professors, Christian activists and thinkers, need to collaborate more regularly in ministry. Perhaps the laity need to give their pastors time to think and write–for their local congregations and the larger kingdom of God.
I thought it was important to re-post this quote, rather than simply point to it because this is the very thing that caused the creation of this blog in the first place. My desire is to be like the apostle Paul and so many other pastors and churchmen throughout history – a man who is fully devoted to the service of Christ’s Church, who ministers with the mind of a theologian and the heart of a pastor.
This kind of pastor-theologian is, unfortunately, rare these days. But I regularly pray that God will not only mold me into that pattern, but that he would raise up other pastor-theologians as well. Too often pastors renounce study and learning and the pursuit of precision in their understanding of the Bible’s theology in the name of ministering to people – as if you could somehow separate the two! The truth is, a minister is only able to care for his people as God intends if he has grasped intensely and embraced deeply the great truths of the Bible. It’s the lovingly and passionately proclaimed doctrines of the Scriptures – in the pulpit, in counseling sessions, and in homes – that brings hope to despairing hearts and joy to grieving souls. This is not only what the Bible itself says but has been my own experience, seeing doctrines like justification by grace alone, in Christ alone bring healing to marriages.
Therefore, as pastors let us be men of the book! Let us drink deeply of the great theological truths God has given us. Let us be found in hospital rooms, counseling sessions, and in the study. Let us be pastor-theologians for the good of God’s Church and the glory of his name.