Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In Defence of Academic Research

Today, an assistant Professor of the National University of Singapore in defence of academic research responds to the article, "Prof, no one is reading you." (See here). When I was asked whether I saw my long term ministry as Professor or Pastor, I could not really give a definitive answer. I wish more pastors are more professorial in the sense that they truly know the Bible well including exegeting it in the original languages. I wish more professors are more pastoral in the sense that they are rooted in the local church and ministry with those outside their circle of scholarship. I think the Church as a whole has not produced scholar-pastors or pastor-scholars for the past 2 centuries or so except a few exceptions.
The last person who was a true scholar and pastor was probably John Wesley in 18th century England. Wesley started off as a student who led Bible study using the Greek New Testament, even before his heart was strangely warmed. If one goes back 2 hundred years more you have the Reformers, Luther and Calvin were model pastor-scholars, and the latter more so than the former because Calvin was pastor of the Genevan church and as a scholar, he wrote commentaries on almost every book of the Bible. Then, my favourite period is the 3rd or 4th century AD when you have Origen though he was never a pastor or bishop of a church. The 4th century was the golden age. You have Ambrose of Milan, Crysostom of Constantinople, Augustine of Hippo and in the early to mid 4th cent. we have the three Cappodocian fathers and tenacious Athanasius though his scholarly reputation was not as high as the latter bishops but he was surely a pastor and theologian of considerable weight. The Nicaea Creed owed much to this one man from Alexandria.

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