A gentle reminder....

May I gently remind our good readers that Tim and I firmly believe that the practice of theology as currently conducted in much of the Evangelical and Reformed world is tragically warped by its disconnect from the authority of the Church and the shepherding work of the pastoral office.

Tim and I not only value the biblically-defined calling of women too highly to honor women who prefer the sterile realm of the rabbinical school above those who give their all to motherhood, we honor the calling of fatherhood in home and Church over that of professional theologian as well.

Theology can little more be practiced in the absence of authority than swimming can be practiced in the absence of water. We must be under Church authority and possessed of Church authority to be true theologicans. Theology without authority is philosophy. Theology without shepherding is dilettantism. Unfortunately, the Evangelical theological fraternity (much like the internet theological world) is filled with philosophical dilettantism.

Doesn't the PCA (along with many other Reformed and Evangelical demoninations) need more doers of and fewer speculators upon the Word? Though the issue that brings this to the fore is Ms Custis-James urging women to become rabbinical students, it doesn't end there. It continues on into Evangelical seminaries and internet monasteries where men are as likely to be dry clouds as the women who follow Ms Custis James.

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My experience is that the PCA needs MORE lay learners of the Word - way more - as do most denoms. There are churches scattered here and there that have a large number of knowledgeable people (birds of a feather...), but most churches have an absolute dearth of them (is this perhaps one of the reason why few in the pews question this blurring of the role of women?). Many involved in small groups and studies can attest to this ignorance, I think. There are plenty more people who can mow the church lawn, work the nursery, sing in the choir, and engage in hospitality than can semi-clearly clearly explain, say, justification or the Trinity.

I have had occasion to talk to several pastors of late, from varying denoms, and all have remarked on how little people know and care to know in the churches. And of course this is even more true in the wider culture, where people just have absolutely no clue (which is why a constant refrain I hear is how all religions are really the same). My point is not that doers and "speculators" ("learners"?) need to be an either/or, or that this should be completely divorced from the local church, but just that people who desire and seek to learn the Word are not so common. They just seem that way on the internet.

I do generally agree with your views on authority and have been pondering this of late in relation to my own blog.

Jack, I have no problem believing your theory to be true in other places, but in northern Virginia we have precisely the opposite problem: we have far more people who can explain justification than people who have time to mow the church lawn (if we had one) or sing in the choir. We have a church of 300, many whom read lots of great works, but fewer than 20 volunteered to be in our Christmas choir.

It's an interesting environment to minister in, because like you I think the larger evangelical world shuns honest study of the Word, but it's just different out here. Frankly, I am glad the Lord has me exactly where He does.

Chris, I travel out there for work sometimes, and that's not a surprise. Around here, it's more dependent on the church, although in my experience the vast majority of them fall into the non-study category. You'll see more people reading Max Lucado than Charles Hodge.

Jack,

My experience in the PCA mirrors Chris's. In fact, traditionally, the PCA has done very well in having the entire body study the word and the titans of the faith. They can quote Calvin, Wafield and Augustine ad nauseum. If there was a denomination that would have some kind of handle on subject like the atonement and justification, I'd have bet my mortgage the PCA would come through fine.

The rub, at least when I was there, was getting us to take our faith out of the library and onto the street where thy neighbor is.

Wow, that's shocking. Around here, that would more accurately describe the OPC (as far as knowledge goes, I don't want to disparage their service), whereas the PCA is more similar to what I described before. I would be surprised if one in 20 PCA'ers I've known even knew who Warfield was, for example.

I think the PC varies a lot. When my family travels we try to line up PCA churches along our route for Sunday worship and our experience has been quite varied, both in ways depressing and encouraging.

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