Thursday, January 26, 2006
Why Having a Theological Library May Make You Unpopular With Your Pastor.
When I first began to collect theological books and develop a thirst for knowledge, I always thought that desire would win me an instant friend with my pastor. After all - that was what he did full time! However I soon began to realise that Dr Jebb, my pastor was (and is) actually an extremely unique man because he alone encouraged his young men to build their libraries - all of the other pastors I have come into contact with didn't seem to like the fact that I loved books (Al Mohler says we should have conversations with our books - I like that but I want conversations with living people too!). That really puzzled me and upset me. Should I stop reading? Should I stop collecting books? Should I take up ... horror of horror ... sports instead so that I can try and discuss the football results with him instead of excitedly telling him about my latest commentary only to see his face harden?
I've always had a deep love for the Bereans - I like them and the principle that they eagerly tested everything that the apostles taught against Scripture. To me that seemed very wise and a practice worthy of emulating, therefore I wasn't initially too keen on Mark Heath's article questioning their nobility. Outrageous! Mark being cautious again?! However when I began to weigh his article against the context of my books isolating me from a succession of pastors, I began to see that the problem was not the books - but rather my pride that I didn't even know I was there. The disapproving look that might have been on my face when I sat listening to yet another plagarised sermon. The careful avoidance of any sign of thankfulness for the sermon when in conversation with the pastor.
In other words ... what price orthodoxy? It seems to me that if I am truly Berean in my reading of the Scriptures I will see that God's hatred of pride seems to outweigh His being impressed with a collection of theological books and some knowledge of the original Greek text. Even more scarily it seems to me that Jesus Christ, while commending the ability to discern and weigh, actually promises the church at Ephesus that unless they return to their "First Love" their lampstand shall be removed.
Yet again there is a vital tension to be held here - and pastors, we need your help. If you promise to talk to us about books and theology sometimes, we will do our utmost to mortify our pride. And together as the people of God we will strive never ever to lose our first love and if we do - to get it back as soon as possible.