Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Where do you learn theology?


D. G. Hart refers to a thought provoking comment by Machen on theological ignorance in the church:

Machen thought that liberalism had spread to such a great extent in the church because of the theological ignorance of the whole church. In his classic book Christianity and Liberalism, he wrote "An outstanding fact of recent church history is the appalling growth of ignorance in the church...The growth of [such] ignorance is the logical and inevitable result of the false notion that Christianity is a life and not a doctrine; if Christianity is not a doctrine then of course teaching is not necessary."
Hart adds:
The church needs not only people with M.Div.'s and M.A.R.'s but, more importantly, people who know and love the catechisms of the various confessional traditions. In fact, one of the reasons why seminary graduates may have such a hard time finding an outlet in the church for what they have learned is that theology has become the exclusive domain of the seminary, with the congregation and home existing as bystanders.

Seminaries don't need more programs. They need more families and churches to do what they are called to do.
From D. G. Hart, "Overcoming the Schizophrenic Character of Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition" in Michael S. Horton [ed.], A Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times, p. 126

2 comments:

nat said...

I love Machen. Great quote.

A thought and comment on the state of things this season:

Yes. The syncretism of popular culture and evangelicalism has produced a quasi-Christian sub-culture–kind of like a department store Santa. It’s got a red suit on but that beard is looking kind of shady.

Endless praise choruses define “worship”. Preaching focuses more on feel good pop psychology solutions to relationship/financial/emotional problems as opposed to the whole Word of God. Church health is measured by building dimension, congregation numbers, budget initiatives, programs, and how famous the Christian recording artist headlining the Christmas concert is. Sound doctrine is derided as experience is elevated. The modern evangelical church has become simply a group of individuals proudly weaving through traffic sporting a fish on their bumper, blasting Christian pop radio, on their way to the big show and a little friendly advice on Sunday morning.

Throwing a little liberalism into that ignorant mix just adds a pinch of lunacy to the lukewarm stew of popular evangelicalism. Maybe Machen's perspective can provide an initial warning for the largely anti-theological church but it will take the Spirit of God to awaken the slumbering evangelical behemoth who tickles the kiddies under their chins and sends them off to “be nice” and read “A Purpose Driven Life”.

Bernard Duchesne, Jr said...

I totally agree. We need more theological education in our churches. I attended the Building Bridges Conference, which I enjoyed very much. At that conference one of the speakers, I can't remember which one, said that they started reading theology at their church about 3 years ago. I plan on doing that at our church and have already had several of our people tell me they would like to join us. We will do that at 6 am. That's amazing to me! I'm really excited about it.

I have two questions. Can someone tell me who that was, or what church is doing that. Second question: exactly what do you do. Do you just read the theology together (we are going to use Wayne Grudem's Bible Theology (I think that's what it is called.) Or do they read and have discussion? Any ideas out there? Thank you.