Thursday, January 06, 2011

Scot McKnight's view on bi-vocation; Gerald Hiestand's view on pastor-theologian

While Vinoth is confused over the laity-clergy divide, Scot McKnight's blog recently raised very good thoughts regarding the idea of bi-vocation as the superior Christian lifestyle:

The rhythms of life for a tentmaker are amazingly different between one who is single, married, married with young children, and married with children post-elementary school. A basic question for many tentmakers is whether or not we can survive the demands of two (potentially full-time) jobs, a spouse (who might also work part or full time), and children. [...]

... who is the real tentmaker: is it an individual, or is it actually the family as a whole? Should the question shift from considering one’s own ambitions and desire to build the Church to the desires and skillset of one’s family as a whole?

These are provocative thoughts to those with family and who aspire to be like apostle Paul. With the wife and children in the picture, how do we then think about ministry?

Gerald Hiestand, at First Things website, posted a thoughtful article lamenting the deep problem between academic theology and local congregation (H/T: Sivin Kit):

The drain of our wider theologians from the pastorate to the academy has resulted in a two-fold problem. First, the theological water-level of our local parishes has dropped considerably. Inasmuch as the pastoral vocation is no longer seen as a theological vocation, pastors no longer bring a strong theological presence to their local parishes. The net effect (particularly in the evangelical tradition in which I reside) is a truncated understanding of theology and its import among the laity. Theology has largely left the local church.

The second part of this problem is perhaps more even troubling. Not only has theology left the church, but the church has left theology. To be sure, many academic theologians view themselves as self-consciously serving the theological needs of the church. But on the whole, academic discourse has lost its way, becoming preoccupied with questions—especially questions regarding its right to exist—that minimize its ecclesial relevance.

These are real concerns in the west as much as in the east. That's why Gospel@Areopagus is set up. The mission is to keep the link between the academia and the churches as close as possible.

During class this week, our lecturer on ethics, Daniel Koh, made an insightful comment over the place of theology in the life of the church. While affirming the importance of mission and evangelism in the first two centuries in church history, Daniel highlighted that it was theological works produced by people like Justin Martyr, Tertulian, Clement of Alexandria, Ignatius, and others that provided the strong ground that empowered the activities of the churches.

Daniel's remark subverts many ideology underlying local congregations that theology is basically irrelevant to the church's life. I have heard many people who dismiss theology. Only recently, someone told me that it is okay for mission-training institutions not to require their students to undergo theological education like those provided at Trinity Theological College.

I wonder if the concern over what kind of churches are being planted matters to those who think like that?

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