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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

An EXCELLENT expose of a real problem! You are not alone in this struggle! Be encouraged!

jul said...

"This 'knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is know by God." I Corinthians 8: 1-3

I think the test of what's in our hearts lies in the fruit of our lives. Are we building up others or not? I have always battled with pride, especially in regards to my superior intellect. Yes, I used to think I was very intelligent, I mean, I chose God and a bunch of stupid people in this world are choosing hell. Thank God for the doctrines of grace! He has been very patient and kind to show me what I really am, and that is nothing except when I'm in him. The truth is , God chooses the weak and the foolish things. That's one of my favorite verses, because I take great comfort in it now that I've been shown the truth about myself. It is the most foolish thing in the world to be proud because God opposes the proud. You have demonstrated humility by being able to see and admit to the tendency to take pride in knowledge. Obviously the Holy Spirit is at work in you and intends to make you even more humble. Which also means, he wants to pour out more grace on you. Thanks for your example in wanting to learn all you can and share it with others to build them up in Christ. I always benefit from the things you write.

Mark L said...

Exellent stuff - unfortunately you made me think about a book - "A Little Exercise for Young Theologians" by Helumt Thielicke - I particularly like the chapter entitled Pathology of the Young Theologians Conceit!

Baxter's Boy said...

Sounds a good book! I will have to hunt it down, read and learn!

mandyfisher6690094752 said...

I read over your blog, and i found it inquisitive, you may find My Blog interesting. So please Click Here To Read My Blog

http://pennystockinvestment.blogspot.com

ollie said...

Awesome blog entry and quite quite true. I did laugh at the thought of your face at yet "another plagarised sermon". Should I feel pity for that particular pastor!?!?

Baxter's Boy said...

No, he isn't really a man who attracted or required pity or sympathy. He certainly didn't dish it out when his members required it. lol

SJ said...

Very interesting blog entry. Yes it is important to hold a tension. We mustnt stop learning and reading and studying just because of the fear of pride!! On the other hand we must ask ourselves why are we learning what we read? Why do we desire to build up our commentaries? Is it to boast? Or is it so that we gain a better handle on God's Inspired Word? And the ultimate aim - we get to know Him better. That must be our goal. If worship fills our hearts and minds, then I don't think pride will have a place as we study God's Word.