Friday, September 10, 2010
A Reflection: The Pastor and the Theologian
Problem: An Academic Theologian chaffing under the requirement to be confessionally, theologically orthodox at a Christian Seminary when studying academic subjects.
Problem: A pastor that sentimentalizes his sermons with no regard to theological content.
Attempted Answer in Axiom: Every theologian must be a pastor, and every pastor must be a theologian.
Both of these problems are weeds from the same rotten soil: The loss of the concept of the pastor-theologian. Today, seminaries and Christians will divorce the academy and the church. One can argue that one is academically focused, and therefore should be free from the limits of orthodoxy. Another can argue they are going into ministry and thus are not as concerned with theology as they are with people.
Both of these people have divorced what should not be divorced. Every theologian should be a pastor, and every pastor should be a theologian. The theologian has a responsibility to orthodoxy, not mere learning. The pastor has a responsibility to right teaching, not merely people.
The theologian who is not a pastor is often arrogant, self-directed, and enamored with novelty and notoriety. The pastor who is not a theologian is often intellectually lazy, a poor shepherd of the mind and injurious as often as nurturing to his flock. The academic-only has no regard for the spiritual life of the flock, and kicks at all authority put over them, be it the confines of orthodoxy or the severe judgment that awaits them from God. The pastor-only chaffs at real authority that is given to them, rejecting their authority over the flock and thrives on sentimentality, taking offense at any challenge to the rightness of their feelings.
However, the academic theologian will always be too proud to submit to the authority of Scripture and the church, and the pastor-only will always be too proud to admit their deficiencies in feeding the flock. Both can only be changed by the humiliation and convicting work of the Spirit. May they both be brought to repentance that we might worship God truly with our mind. May we be brought to repentance when we reject correction of our hubris against the limits of orthodoxy and the high call to the office of pastor-elder.