Part of the challenge of ableism* as a worldview is that it is often difficult to distinguish what the Bible says from how the Bible has been received, what our religious traditions say about it, and how we have been taught to interpret it. This means that we’ll often presume out normate understandings of the Bible are exactly what the biblical authors intended to communicate to us. The task before us, then, is to apply a hermeneutics of suspicion not necessarily to the biblical text but to our own traditions of interpretation that have taught us how to read it. The goal is to question our own presuppositions about disability in order to see afresh how the Bible is and can be good news not only for people with disabilities but also for socieities with people across the spectrum of abilities (12).
*ableism names the discriminatory attitudes, negative stereotypes, and sociopolitical and economic structures and institutions that together function to exclude people with disabilities from full participation in society (11).
-Amos Yong (The Bible, Disability, and the Church: A New Vision of the People of God. Eerdmans, 2011)
my wife debbie and I were talking this morning about a situation with a church in the area that we are familiar with. this church recently took on a new pastor. she had attended a special service there because some friends we have were a focal point for a portion of the service, and they had invited her to come. her conclusion afterward was that this pastor is young, in the sense that he is inexperienced. it could be his first pastorate. as we were talking about the situation over breakfast, she pointed out something very significant I think for the ultimate purpose of getting a theological education:
you need depth to go long (in ministry)
the concern was that at this point this young pastor may not have enough depth to last long with this church (it also has much conflict in its history). I realize we are eligible to receive treebeards direction “now don’t be hasty my little hobbits!” but I think its a valid concern. i also know i could get much push back for this because there are tons of pastors in the ministry with little to no formal theological education or who have a basic bible college degree, and they have plenty of depth, and have been in the ministry for a very long time. i think these situations are the exceptions and not the norm. Even so, i also know its true that the average seminarian (i’m going to guess 6-7 out of 10) with a master of divinity leaves the ministry never to return 5 years or less after graduation so I know my case may not be a strong one either. however, i wonder if this is the exception and not the rule.
i also realize that “depth” can be relative. i wonder of those who had the training lacked the depth? i wonder how those with no training developed depth? i do not know and that’s highly subjective.
i want to assert that despite it all the ultimate value of theological education (and I think that is something well beyond the basic bible college degree) is to form in the seminarian, depth. depth of character. depth of integrity. depth of knowledge (which will lead to wisdom, if properly applied). depth of ministry capacity (and or ministerial functioning). and this depth will lead to endurance in the ministry.
getting a theological education is more than having a degree or getting the smarts or having knowledge. its about training for depth in ministry and for depth in life.
thanks to Cliff Kvidahl, of Logos Bible Software fame, who blogs at Theological Musings for posting an article by J. Gresham Machen titled ‘The minister and his Greek New Testament‘ on the Facebook group page ‘Nerdy Language Majors.’
Here is his conclusion:
If, however, it is important for the minister to use his Greek Testament, what is to be done about it? Suppose early opportunities were neglected, or what was once required has been lost in the busy rush of ministerial life. Here we may come forward boldly with a message of hope. The Greek of the New Testament is by no means a difficult language; a very fair knowledge of it may be acquired by any minister of average intelligence. And to that end two homely directions may be given. In the first place, the Greek should be read aloud. A language cannot easily be learned by the eye alone. The sound as well as the sense of familiar passages should be impressed upon the mind, until sound and sense are connected without the medium of translation. Let this result not be hastened; it will come of itself if the simple direction be followed. In the second place, the Greek Testament should be read every day without fail, Sabbaths included. Ten minutes a day is of vastly more value than seventy minutes once a week. If the student keeps a “morning watch,” the Greek Testament ought to be given a place in it; at any rate, the Greek Testament should be read devotionally. The Greek Testament is a sacred book, and should be treated as such. If it is treated so, the reading of it will soon become a source of joy and power.
If you need daily help: there is always “A Daily Dose of Greek” (which is only 2:00 minutes) of which you ca subscribe to daily emails.
Mike Lincona one of the leading scholars on this topic at the moment answers that question in the hour long video below: