Here's a sampling of some of the things I've been reading and reviewing this week. The hope is that these bite-sized sections of books, articles, blog posts, etc will stand on their own and be beneficial (or at least thought-provoking!) in-and-of-themselves. But I also hope that some of you will like these excerpts enough that they pull you into the larger work from which they've been taken.
Let's start sampling:
J. Mack Stiles, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus. Crossway, 2014. pp. 52-53.
"When [the Apostle] Paul says that we should see people through the eyes of Christ, he means for us to have a gospel view of people. So we see people as beautiful, valuable creatures made in the image of God. Each and every one of us carries God's mark. That is why Christians believe all people have dignity, worth, and value.
"At the same time, we recognize that every person is fallen, sinful, and separated from God. All people have twisted the image of God into horrible shapes. That is why Christians are not enamored with people, either.
"But in a culture of evangelism, most of all we're mindful of what people can become: new creations in Christ, renewed and restored by the transforming power of God (2 Cor. 5:17). I long to be with Christians who remember that people are image-bearers. I long to be with Christians who remember people's separation from God. Most of all, I long for a culture that remembers what people can become through the gospel."
R. Albert Mohler Jr, The Pastor as Theologian. p. 4.
"The transformation of theology into an academic discipline more associated with the university than the church has been one of the most lamentable developments of the last several centuries. In the earliest eras of the church, and through the annals of Christian history, the central theologians of the church were its pastors. This was certainly true of the great Reformation of the sixteenth century as well. From the patristic era, we associate the discipline and stewardship of theology with names such as Athanasius, Irenaeus, and Augustine. Similarly, the great theologians of the Reformation were, in the main, pastors such as John Calvin and Martin Luther. Of course, their responsibilities often ranged above those of the average pastor, but they could not have conceived of the pastoral role without the essential stewardship of theology."
Graham Heslop, "Theology and Pastoral Ministry." Accessible online at 9marks.org. Posted on December 10, 2014.
"I’ve heard many...express an unhealthy view of theology, considering it to be no more than an important grounding before heading into the pastorate. Such a view is not only opposed to the evangelical tradition; it also dangerously diminishes the value of ordered thinking around truth in a relativistic age, and leaves those in ministry underdeveloped and doctrinally blunt. My aim, then, is to convince the reader that studying theology is a crucial and on-going aspect of pastoral ministry.
"A prominent reason for the mothballing of theology is that we have lost sight of its purpose and place. This is undoubtedly in part the fault of inaccessible and obscure theological inquiry, along with the growing distance between doctrinal pursuit and Christian living. John Webster comments that the reduction of theology to something vaguely moral and overly academic gives the impression that it is nothing more than the academy’s conscience or folk religion.
"But on the contrary, theology is in its essence a guide to reading Scripture and living the Christian life. Calvin knew this and wrote in a preface to his Institutes that it is the task of those with greater understanding to guide others and help them find the sum total of God’s teaching in his Word. He hoped that his systematic theology would “be a key to open a way for all children of God into a good and right understanding of Holy Scripture.” Calvin saw his hugely significant contribution as a humble tool for directing others to the perfect doctrine contained in Scripture. We would do well to remember that theology serves in the understanding of Scripture and is therefore an important component of Christian ministry and living."
Click here to see the full post from which this excerpt was taken. Please note the usual disclaimer, that my recommendation of this post is not necessarily an endorsement of everything else on the site where this was posted.
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