June 6, 2012

Cultivate Originality

Category: Theology :: Permalink

Norman Shepherd was ordained as a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in June 1963. John Murray preached the sermon, and Cornelius Van Til gave the charge to the new minister. In his autobiographical essay “Growing in Covenant Consciousness,” Norman Shepherd quotes from that charge:

You will not think of yourself as an individual theologian bringing to men the thoughts of your heart. You will not even think of yourself first of all as carrying on some tradition, notably the Reformed tradition, as you teach and preach. The world does not need your wisdom, and the world does not need Reformed theology except in so far as your theology and the Reformed tradition in which you labor expound the wisdom of Christ. You must not be a slave to tradition. You must not merely carry on what you yourself have learned from teachers. You must by all means cultivate originality. You must be yourself as you teach biblical and systematic theology. Only if you cultivate your independence of judgment will you make a genuine contribution to theology. But such originality cannot be attained otherwise than by ever going back of all the theology you have learned to the Christ who ever speaks to you in his Word.

The charge concluded with these words:

You need not snatch into the void for something new to say. You build upon the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets. You stand in the Reformed tradition as it stands on Christ. Labor with diligence! Need I tell you this? But labor also with composure of mind. Make no false pretense but have confidence in the promises of Christ.

Posted by John Barach @ 3:23 pm | Discuss (0)

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