Dear Theology PhD’s,
I am extremely thankful for the impact and influence of my professors in Seminary. They challenged me to study, learn, and give full authority to Scripture. They encouraged me to let the Bible be the final authority even if conclusions did not fit into a theological system neatly. They challenged my hermeneutics and made me think, “Is this what the text says?” Their influence in my life stands in the pulpit every Sunday morning.
As a pastor I spend the majority of my time three ways: prayer, people, and preaching. The work is demanding and each responsibility deserves my full, undivided attention. The work of a pastor is evangelism, discipleship, counseling, encouragement, meetings, and teaching. All of these require diligent study, labor, discernment and a knowledge of God’s Word as we reason with people through the Scriptures.
When I sit down to study, I want resources to help me understand Scripture better in it’s historical context and grammatically. I need help cutting the Word accurately. There are many great commentaries out there and yet there could be more. I do not have the man hours to evaluate every grammatical and lexical possibility or all the views out there on the text. I need to make a decision and preach with conviction. My church needs me to evaluate the Word accurately so that they are fed.
So, as a pastor, working to minister to people I look to you, the PhD. I look to you because our work is helped by your work. Your labor and devotion to teach the text, dig deep lexically, unearth the historical context, evaluate the original language and then publish your findings help. You help me weigh the Word and what God is trying to communicate. Your historical research helps me smell the dirt Paul walked on. Reading and studying the church fathers helps me understand the views of our forefathers. Your work is vital to our work.
It is not helpful to read about the sources behind the sources (Q). I’m sure the historical Jesus exists, the Gospels are clear regarding him. I’d challenge you to consider the church at large and the pastor as you study and write. My knowledge of the Word and ability to use it in situations ministers to people. Paul says in 2 Cor. 6:1 that we work together with God for the ministry. In the same way, the PhD and pastor work together as we labor in love to those who need the Gospel. The Gospel is why we labor. People need to be reconciled. Thank you for your faithfulness to those in the ministry and the church.