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The Church, Academy, and Calling: Interlude

*via ell-r-brown (flickr)

Call it halftime of the series, if you will. The last four or five weeks have been filled with travel prep, travel itself, and then settling into a new country and city. I had not planned to end the Church and Academy series quite yet, so let me resume it first by highlighting a line from each of the previous interviews, then in another post, I’ll offer a few reflections.

Jim West was the first to contribute and highlighted the urgency of the issue:

The church needs now, perhaps more than it has ever needed, academically informed clergy. And the academy needs now, perhaps more than it has ever needed, faithful Professors.

Darrell Bock came next and offered advice for helping bridge the gap between the church and academy:

Those who work in academics need to be better communicators to lay people and the church needs to encourage being serious about study of Scripture beyond personal needs.

Andreas Köstenberger shared about the personal benefit of being involved in both streams:

Getting down to earth and contextualizing theology to people of various ages, levels of biblical literacy, and spiritual maturity is an exercise I cherish very deeply and find invigorating in my scholarship.

George Guthrie shared a vision for how one should think about work in academics and the local church:

Academic work by a Christian should be done as a living out of the lordship of Christ, following him into the details of our scholarly endeavors. At the same time, church life and ministry should be grounded in solid study of the Scriptures, theology, church history, etc. So the chasm is bridged in both directions.

Terry Wilder suggested both sides can bridge the chasm in the following ways:

Academicians need to make it a point to get involved in the ministry of the local church, perhaps teaching Sunday School or something. Also, they should never forget their roots and learn to communicate difficult concepts in simpler terms. On the flip side, pastors and churches need to realize that eventually academic trends and challenges filter down to the churches, and thus it is important to take advantage of any help the academy may have to offer.

Todd Chipman raised an important issue:

…pastors and scholars need to stay put. The average pastorate lasts only a few years, and those in the academy often move to a higher ranking position at the first opportunity. Because of the former churches move from the new pastor’s new program to the new pastors’ new program; many are thus never really equipped with a vision for the importance of God’s word and how the fruits of the academy can aid the life of the church. Because of the latter, scholars do not always enjoy the kind of collaborative colleague relationships which might produce fruitful and relevant research.

Con Campbell let us in on the unified vision he has for his work in both arenas:

I regard myself as being in full-time vocational Christian ministry, under the Lordship of Christ, with the purpose of serving his church. For me, all my activities fall somewhere on a spectrum that I would label “Proclaiming Christ and Teaching the Bible.” I would regard teaching Sunday School to primary school children and lecturing at Moore College at different ends of that spectrum, but nevertheless I consider them both part of that job.

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