Author Archives: Jason

Friedrich Schleiermacher: An Appreciation

In my Advanced Hermeneutics seminar last October I found myself researching Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern hermeneutics. I researched his early years, Kantian influence, and the hermeneutical circle that he, and subsequently others, used frequently. His impression upon the discipline of biblical hermeneutics is far-reaching and is even seen behind the veils of interpretative methods today.

Schleiermacher was born on November 21, 1768 in Breslau, Prussia where his father served as a chaplain of the Reformed Church to a regiment in Silesia.[1] A very bright individual who was the product of a Moravian Brethren upbringing, he desired to receive a broader education than he was receiving at the time. At fourteen he began to doubt aspects of the Scripture. As a student at a boarding school in Pless there arose within him a strange skepticism towards the genuineness of the ancient authors of the Bible and they, as a result, began to seem disjointed and unreal to the young scholar.[2]

After his promotion to Barby in 1785 to study philosophy his doubting eventually lead him to turn to liberal Protestantism to acquire the answers he desired. He wrote to his father that he could no longer believe the Son of Man was the true eternal God, his death a vicarious atonement, and an eternal punishment for those who could not attain faith in Jesus.[3] After receiving permission from his father, Schleiermacher transferred to the University of Halle where he immersed himself in Kant, Greek philosophy, and the famous writers of the early church to the period of the Reformation. After he passed his theological exams in 1796 he spent six years preaching at a hospital in Berlin and two years as the court preacher at Stople. Eventually he traveled back to Halle and accepted a position as professor of theology at the University of Halle, only to leave and return to Berlin to preach at Trinity Church and lecture at the University. Continue reading

The Pastor-Theologian in His Study

For the pastor who, at most, preaches three times each week, the temptation is simply to coast week in and week out with little thought given to other theological issues outside of his sermon. After all, there are people to visit, meetings with the staff, and landmines that erupt on a moment’s notice that requires the pastor’s attention. Plus there are weeks when sermon preparation is all he can muster simply due from the demands of the week.

This temptation forces the pastor to serve as nothing more than a delivery man to his congregation. Sure he gets the passage diagrammed, commentaries read, sermon outline finished, and the manuscript typed, but the ideas are others and his sermon, rather than shaped by the text, has been shaped by commentaries.[1] The pastor has not properly formulated any original idea but rather is the middle-man between the congregation and the “theologians.” Hiestand and Wilson noticed this trend and write that many,

don’t expect pastors to be theologians, certainly not scholars, at least not of a professional variety. Intellectually speaking, we expect pastors to function, at best, as intellectual middle management, passive conveyors of insights from theologians to laity. A little quote from Augustine here, a brief allusion to Bonhoeffer there. That’s all.[2]

This is, sadly, the case. Most congregations expect the pastor to be primarily a counselor or serve as a business man who has ideas to increase attendance and giving. I don’t think, as Hiestand and Wilson comment later on, this is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. After all, the pastor’s responsibility is to communicate the Word of God in effective ways to his congregation through words. We must simplify theological issues so that others may understand.[3] But if this is all the pastor in doing, I believe he suffers. Continue reading

The Pastor-Theologian?

Much has been written recently on the Pastor as Theologian or the Pastor as Theologian.[1] Derek Rishmawy has compiled a helpful list and summary of the main articles written thus far with, I believe, a fair assessment of each. I would also add Michael Kruger’s “Should You be a Pastor or Professor? Thinking Through the Options” as well as Andy Naselli’s “3 Reasons for a Pastor-Theologian to Get a PhD.”

The issue of the Pastor-Theologian is of specific interest to me, as the title of my blog indicates, because this is something I aim to fulfill in my ministry right now. This is why I read Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson’s work The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision with great encouragement because I finally found this wrinkled vision in my mind ironed out just a bit smoother. As Rishmawy indicates, Hiestand and Wilson argue for the position of ecclesial theologian — that being the pastor as one who not only interacts with the life of his church but as well as participating and (perhaps) leading conversations in the academy. I agree with Rishmawy, in this case the pastor-theologian is a scholar. Continue reading

Preaching: A Biblical Theology

I was very pleased to receive a copy of Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason C. Meyer, Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church and have the chance to read the work of my former professor. Rather than the typical review, my aim is to include what I particularly enjoyed from Meyer’s book. As a result, this post will be brief, which is my intention. If you would prefer the traditional route, see my friend David Norman’s review here. preaching_meyer-683x1024

First, I appreciated Meyer’s structure. It is comprised of five parts with each building from the first five chapters, which is “Part One.” This section serves as a launching pad for the rest of the book and, as long as this is read first, it does not matter where the reader goes to next. Meyer did this because it allows the reader to choose their own starting “adventure” (14 – 15). In other words, the sections are not dependent upon one another as some books typically are.

Second, I appreciated Meyer’s careful guide through the Bible in “Part Two.” I believe this section is his strongest and the reader would do well to read it rather than skipping to “Part Three,” which is the technical aspect of preaching. Reading Meyer working through the Old Testament and providing the overall narrative it gives is a helpful summary of its contents, but his piecing together each patch of the seam shows the God of Israel at work in his nation.

Third, I appreciated Meyer ending his chapter with an illustration and point of application. Considering this is not a textbook on preaching it is a welcoming addition. Not only does it provide the reader and expositor of the Word examples of how to do application and illustration, but it also provides them with illustration aids that can be added to their own arsenal. Of course, credit must be given where credit is due if one chooses to use these in his sermon.

I commend this work to you and encourage you to add it to your shelf.

The Culturally Relevant Church (?)

church-abandoned-bw

Can the church of Jesus Christ, who has been bought by his blood, be culturally relevant? What I mean is, can the church submit to the Lordship of Jesus while simultaneously catering to the needs of the culture? Perhaps this is still somewhat broad, so let me narrow it down with a “case study.”

Say you are new in town and as you are searching for a church to visit, you come across one who claims to be culturally relevant. What they mean by culturally relevant is they seek to make the worship service (singing/music) mirror that of the culture. What you will have is the light show, fog machines, and songs that are wanting in content. The pastor will preach a message that sounds like the gospel, but the content more or less focuses upon you doing something (Don’t Fear; Be Encouraged; Love Yourself; etc.). A speaking of the purpose for Christ’s death and why repentance is required lacks, but it seems that these people love Jesus while they seek to be relevant to the culture. Is this possible?

I would suggest no. Continue reading

Reading John Owen

admin-ajaxMy time at Louisiana College shaped my theological mind profoundly. I was most influenced by my professors during my time in the halls of Guinn. These men opened an entire world of theological dialogue that I was unaware even existed. I began hearing the names of Douglas Moo, D.A. Carson, Francis Schaeffer, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, John MacArthur, Thomas Schreiner, John Goldingay, John Sailhamer, William Carey, N.T. Wright, Albert Mohler…and the list could continue for some pages. I began to read some of these men and it proved both laborious and rewarding.

I remember either hearing or reading the story of how John Piper devoted himself to one particular theologian.

When I was in seminary, a wise professor told me that besides the Bible I should choose one great theologian and apply myself throughout life to understanding and mastering his thought. This way I would sink at least one shaft deep into reality, rather than always dabbling on the surface of things. I might, in time, become this man’s peer and know at least one system with which to bring other ideas into fruitful dialogue. It was good advice.

The theologian I have devoted myself to is Jonathan Edwards.[1]

Continue reading