My ex-boss has been reading John Piper & DA Carson’s The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor. These two are among the most prominent poster-boys for Conservative Evangelical (with very big Cs and Es) views. I have more sympathy for what I’ve read of Carson, but neither really connects with the things that interest me most of the time. Yet Paul’s summary of their ‘twelve lessons for the scholar as pastor with brief quotations includes this gem:

Fight a common disjunction (the ‘critical’ vs the the devotional reading of Scripture)
“My response, forcefully put, is to resist this disjunction, to eschew it, to do everything in your power to destroy it … when you read ‘devotionally’, keep your mind engaged; when you read ‘critically’ (ie with more diligent and focused study, deploying a panoply of ‘tools’), never, ever forget whose Word it is. The aim is never to become a master of the Word, but to be mastered by it.” (91)

That is SO true. One of the biggest problems with theological education in the last fifty years is that too often we have failed to help our students to “get” this. We’ve allowed them to develop schizophrenic lives where intellectual understanding and lived faith fail to meet. And that has been killing churches.

I’d disagree fundamentally and at almost every turn with Carson and with Piper on the conclusions of critical reading, but I agree 100% with this quote. It (together with Paul’s other extracts) is so good, it almost makes me want to read the book!