Pastor's Blog

The dream of my college days was to become an academic, teaching on a college or graduate school level.  Providence put me into graduate school at the same time I was pastoring our church.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I switched horses – gave up on academia and accepted the role of pastor.  I don’t recall the moment of decision – the change was gradual – but I remember an episode that revealed to me that I had already switched horses.

I had stretched a two-year degree into nine years, so I was older and had more ministry experience than most of my compatriots in the latter years of my seminary career.  In an advanced theology class we were discussing the destiny of infants that die, and one of the students was waxing eloquent about how it was theologically certain that infants that die are condemned to hell, and any opinion to the contrary was based on ignorance of the Scriptures.

The more the young man blathered on, the more I squirmed.  The prof finally acknowledged my raised hand. 

“What message,” I asked, “would you deliver at an infant’s funeral?  And what comfort would you offer to the child’s grieving family?”

The young student started to stutter.  I turned around and glared at him.
“Ever conducted a child’s funeral?” I asked aloud. 
The room was silent.
“Have you ever conducted anyone’s funeral?” I asked.  I was angry, not at his theology (which I understood) but at the arrogance of his certainty. 

I was surprised at my own reaction.  It didn’t seem that long ago that I would have debated the theological points for the sake of debate.  I came away from that class realizing I disliked theology that exists merely for knowledge, merely for its own sake.  I was very aware that God had led me to switch horses.

Theology is important, but I find it significant that in all the Scriptures that make up our Bible, not one of them is a theology textbook.  Every one of them is written for some practical and immediately applicable end.  The theological perspective is in the background and peeks through the words of the text to speak to the life issues of those that received the writings.  If you want to understand theology, you must peek back through the circumstances in which a biblical book was written.  You must think practically.

I write this because in thinking about where our church must go beyond my own lifetime, I see this as a crucial point for the younger generations to understand.

Don’t get caught up in knowledge for its own sake.  Seek wisdom – how to live the way God intends.

 

 

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