Monday, January 04, 2010

Interesting thoughts for the New Year

First of all, hearty congratulations to Ben and Faith, as they are already seeing results in obedience to God's command to be fruitful and multiply.

Second, here's an interesting commentary from my favorite seminary president noting the need for Bible colleges--specifically Bible colleges which teach the Trivium. In other words, Dr. Bauder is telling Bible colleges, more or less, to take the ground vacated by so-called liberal arts colleges.

A corollary thought here is to wonder why we need Bible colleges to train young people (and middle aged for that matter) when they've been under the pulpit ministry for decades already. It would seem to speak of a long delayed maturity and...sigh.....a somewhat "gelded" pulpit ministry in too many churches, including a lot of the best, I think.

Third, it appears that (H/T Anti-Strib) the Mayo Clinic is refusing new Medicare patients at a branch in Arizona because they're losing $840 million each year on the program. Given that the health insurance deform plans currently in Congress require some fairly significant cuts in Medicare, this doesn't bode well for healthcare for senior citizens. Socialism in any area always leads to shortages, and healthcare is no exception.

Finally, your prayers are coveted for the "Northern Muckraker," who is in a difficult family situation right now.


pentamom said...

Because the pulpit isn't the place for teaching the nitty-gritty of the Bible. It's for taking a portion of scripture and applying it to the lives of those present, not for gaining a thorough and academic grasp of biblical content. Sermons shouldn't be academic in the way that a good Bible college education is. The pastor shouldn't be taking a lot of time explaining the details of ancient near east politics, which a decent OT Bible college course could not omit. Of course, a good Bible college education is not lacking in application, but it's a different focus. I suppose it's rather like the difference between the college-level electrical engineering courses my husband had while getting his degree, and the tech-school classes he teaches now. Or the difference between organic chemistry and a good cooking course -- the latter includes org-based scientific content, but in a really different way. Both have to accurate and thorough, but the aim is a little different.

Bike Bubba said...

It's certainly the modern view, but personally, I kinda like the way that the writers of the Federalist Papers could assume that the farmers they were writing for would understand their historical allusions....and I'm sure their pastors of the time took advantage of this as well.

Maybe I'm looking at a mere segment of that society, but something in me longs for a cessation of the extended adolescence we see today--at least in my own family and church.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

First of all, thanks. God has decided that it's time for both of us to grow up. We're grateful for that.

Regarding education, I think a huge problem to overcome is the sheer amount of input that is present in people's lives. A preliminary step for parents would be to simplify their children's lives (and their own) as much as feasible, protecting them from needless choices and unnecessary information. We get swamped with the unimportant which masquerades as the imperative.

pentamom said...

I'm not talking about the sermons not being erudite, I'm talking about sermons not being the time or place for academic education. If the people understand the allusions, it should be because they're learning it somewhere,e not because the preacher is confusing pulpit ministry with a lecture series. I'm pretty sure trying to teach people everything they're supposed to learn about the Bible in a worship service IS a modern idea. Older sermons, even very dense, erudite ones, were not about teaching people knowledge, they were about using the knowledge to exhort and convict.

So if you want to say that kids should know the basics of a Bible college education by the time they're 18 anyway, I have less objection to that. It's just that the pulpit's not the place for it.

Gino said...

in the more independent churches, such as the evangelical branch of the Faith, sucess is measured by seats in the pews.
full pews= good preaching

you start getting too academic on the pew sitters, they'll leave for another church that is more 'fun'.
at that point, you are a failed preacher.

Catholicism operates a little differently. homilies teach and direct, they dont entertain.

all of our minsters have the equivilant of a masters degree education, and use it in their ministry.
but, the nature of Catholicism is far different than evangelicalism.
and sucess is measured differently as well.

Bike Bubba said...

Methinks Gino hits well what I'm getting at. A lot of the lack of real teaching in evangelical churches stems from the seeker-sensitive urge to put tushes in seats--start showing the meat of the Gospel, and those seats show up empty.

I don't agree 100% with the Catholics, of course--else I'd be one--but it's a sad fact (at least for a Baptist like myself) that when I see good scholarship in certain areas, it's a safe bet the authors are Catholic.

Ben hits on another thing too; given the sheer volume of "information" around, it's hard to attain knowledge. A friend of mine from a few years back characterized the "net" as the "Autobahn of bull****." Too right too often, he was.

pentamom said...

Okay, the responses indicate I'm clearly not getting my point across.

Sermons should teach. They should be meaty. They should be directive, they should be instructive. Pastors should be scholarly and educated, and that should bear on their preaching.

But sermons are for expositing the gospel (in all its facets and implications) and exhorting saints and sinners to repentance and faith. They're not for teaching history. They're not for teaching linguistics. They're not for teaching hermeneutics. They're not for teaching apologetic methods. They're not for teaching epistemology. All that absolutely inarguably belongs as part of the education of Christians, but not in the pulpit. The preaching within the worship service is about something different than a Bible college education. So yeah, every Christian should be able to obtain the equivalent of a Bible college education without going to Bible college if the church is doing its job (at least in a highly literate, prosperous society like ours), but not on Sunday mornings in between the hymns and the prayers and the sacraments.

But since the verification word for this comment is "prion," maybe it's trying to tell me something. ;-)

Bike Bubba said...

You're being understood; I just disagree a bit. Specifically, in order to present God's Word in its fullness, a good pastor must go into some of exactly what you say.

Specifically, how can one accurately present the Gospel without presenting some principles of exegesis as one exegetes the passage? How can one understand, say, Obadiah in the context of the Gospel without explaining a touch of hermeneutics, Biblical, and systematic theology? (certainly many are pretending they can, though)

And, to be honest, I'm quite frankly disappointed in the job "Bible Colleges" do in teaching these,'s almost as if for many, church and Bible college become a synonym for "vacation."

pentamom said...

"Go into some of it," yes. "Absolutely. Give a thorough knowledge comparable to a Bible college education, or at least what I think a Bible college education ought to be, no. If you can learn from the pulpit what you learn in Bible college, either the focus of preaching is way off, or a Bible college education is sorely lacking.