In which I agree with Carson and Piper!

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!

3 comments on “In which I agree with Carson and Piper!

  1. Judy Redman

    Yes. I was left to work out for myself how to deal with the disjunction between critical scholarship and devotional reading. When I teach, I make a point of helping students to deal with this and it appears to be helpful from the feedback I get.

  2. Bill

    Nice post, Tim. Thanks for this.

    I notice, btw, that Carson’s picture shows him teaching/preaching. Someone needs to write a book about the dominance of the “pastor = preacher” mentality. Ah, well.

  3. jonathan robinson

    the book is a transcript of talks that i’m pretty sure are available online somewhere as video. we watched the carson one at Carey last year sometime and we were all cracking up because carson was warning against the dangers of accepting book contracts willy nilly, so all the Carey guys were laughing – not a problem many pastor scholars struggle with ;-)