Monday, 25 February 2013

Reading over your head...

In a recent post, Kevin DeYoung calls pastors to read over their heads.  While scholarly monographs should not be the only items on the pastor's reading menu, they ought not be struck from the menu altogether as fare too sophisticated and subtle for a mere parson.  With all the appropriate caveats, some of which he gives, I heartily agree.  This practice will stretch a pastor and drive him back to the text of Scripture to wrestle with new facets of doctrines and new angles on ideas that he may never have considered before.  Of course a pastor who reads over his head will undoubtedly read things he doesn't agree with.  In some cases, he may be required to humbly accept that he was wrong.  In other cases, he will be sharpened in his ability to recognize and refute sophisticated error.  In all cases, this practice should keep a pastor's mind nimble and his heart open.  Like with any teaching role, only pastors who continue to learn are effective in their own preaching and teaching.  Reading above one's head is not the only way to learn but it is part of a balanced diet of study for a pastor.  Such a balanced diet should also include fare from various mental and spiritual "food groups"- things like current news magazines, popular books the congregation is likely to be reading, classic novels, fairy tales, poetry, books on hermeneutics, exegesis and homiletics, plays, philosophy, politics, economics, works of theology (past and present), commentaries, stuff from other cultures and countries and of course lots of old stuff.  A pastor ought to read broadly, deeply, carefully, and read it all in comparison with and submission to the Word of God. 

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