September 18, 2007

Highest Form of Theology

Category: Theology - Liturgical,Theology - Pastoral :: Permalink

In the comments on a post on the De Regno Christi blog, James Jordan writes something that’s worth a blog entry of its own:

When I was in school, long ago, it was commonly thought that Systematics was the queen of theology. Exegesis led to Biblical Theology and finally climaxed in Systematics. Well, I submit that this is very seriously wrong. For me, this is a form of gnosticism. The true goal is Practical and Liturgical Theology. Systematics gives us boundaries (it’s really Polemical theology), and this helps Biblical Theology, but the goal of all of it is Exegesis, the ability to explain a given pericope to PEOPLE so that PEOPLE are transformed. To do full justice to a given text, not explain it away because it does not seem to fit our tiny systems. Jesus came to save and to glorify people, not to bring an ideology. Way too often Reformed people take our great Confessions as ideologies, ignoring their many fuzzy edges, and forgetting that the men who wrote them were Bible-centered, not Confession-centered. They expected more Confessions to be written in the future, and the Covenanters and Associates were faithful to this notion. The State churches and later American denominations were not. My own study was in Systematics, and I still do plenty of it in my writing and teaching. But the highest form of theology is preaching and liturgics.

Personally, I’ve always disliked the idea that the highest pinnacle of a pastor’s success would be to be appointed to teach at a seminary: “Sure, you’re pastoring now for a few years.  But I think one day, pastor, they’re going to hire you at the seminary!” they say, as if they’re saying, “You’re going to go places, boy!”  But the seminary exists to serve the church and to serve by training pastors for the churches, and they could do a better job in teaching seminarians the Word and training them in liturgy.  Jordan is right: “The highest form of theology is preaching and liturgics.”

Posted by John Barach @ 11:31 am | Discuss (1)

One Response to “Highest Form of Theology”

  1. gullchasedship Says:


    I know quite a few people who have more respect for a pastor who shepherds his flock than for one who starts hunting down a PhD when he gets bored.

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