The task of understanding and then appropriating a methodology for ministry begins early on in our spiritual lives. We are unwittingly yoked to certain philosophy’s long before we reach ministry. These different presuppositions come from many places including our former pastor’s and the schools with which we received our training.
One of these presuppositions pounded into my thinking from an early age was a disjunct between the halls of academia and the laymen in the pew on Sunday morning. While it is not within the scope of this discussion as to how this disjunct arose, I would like to look at the effect of this separation through the eye’s of the local church. The issue can be boiled down to one’s view of the purpose of the college (and seminary) and the purpose of the church. While I’ll not debate your individual school or church’s position, I will share with you several comments I’ve heard from both sides of the issue.
Often times (in both undergrad and grad work) professors have made comments along these lines “This material is probably not suitable for the congregation as it will. . . (e.g. cause them to loose respect for the principal of inspiration, etc.)” The same sentiment is voiced from the layman’s perspective in the comment, “We don’t need to know all that deep theology, we merely need to know how be holy.” Within the realm of evangelicalism today there is a disjunct between theology and holy living.
This is terribly unfortunate and has led to many extremes. Our modern fundamental movement is fraught with either elite intellectualism or legalistic morality! The biblical model, as we are readily aware, does not present such a disjunct but welds theology and practice together. Romans 12:2, a text often quoted, cites “mind renewal” as the means for sanctification. Countless texts cite the need to think right. Inculcating right doctrine is crucial for right actions. To often, however, this doctrine is dry — most likely because it had no effect on the presenter to begin with.
Bunyan had a much different approach to solving the issue of promoting spiritual growth. He states in a sermon:
“Apples and flowers are not made by the gardener, but are the effect of the planting and watering. Plant in the sinner good doctrine, and let it be watered with the word of grace, and as the effect of that, there the fruits of holiness and the end everlasting life. Good doctrine is the doctrine of the Gospel, which showeth to men that God clothed them with the righteousness of His Son freely, by which free gift the sinner is declared righteous before God. Therefore, there is infused a principle of grace into the heart, whereby it is both quickened and bringing forth fruit!”
There is no disjunct in the mind of Bunyan between theology and morality. Positional truth, the fact of our reconciliation, our justification, and our redemption should be the fountainhead for all our preaching and teaching. Far from promoting apathetic or licentious believers, this is our only hope for true holiness. When we promote the gospel and all its benefits we are in turn promoting Christ — pleading with people to look to him.
To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to serve Him!