Letter to Aspiring Theologians

Continuing the discussion from Jon Garvey: The Indigenous Theologian:

I notice that there are many non-professional theologians here: @jongarvey, @Guy_Coe, @Revealed_Cosmology, @vjtorley, @TGLarkin, and many more. This interesting article about becoming a theologian comes to us by way of Kevin Vanhoozer:

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You just found something worse than being a department chair. :grinning:

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Vanhoozer would likely agree:

It’s true, there is a guild of “professional” theologians—mostly academics who populate colleges, seminaries, and university divinity schools—and there are scholarly journals and awards to be had, not to mention salaries and sabbaticals. I know it’s tempting, especially when you’re still a student, to revere or perhaps romanticize your teachers and the lives they lead. The reality—grading papers, committee meetings, critical reviews, etc.—is different. It gets worse: Theology ranks very low on the totem pole of academic status. Banish, therefore, all thought of “success,” and don’t confuse making a living as a theologian with living out the knowledge of God. If you aspire to speak of God, do so to please God, not people (cf. Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4)—neither the professionals nor their popularly cultured despisers.

This quote is really good and helpful,

C. S. Lewis’s distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along it clarifies what’s at stake. Those who look at the biblical text analyze it from a critical distance. They see the text, but not necessarily what it’s talking about. In contrast, those who look along the text enter into its strange new world. Looking along the text is the best way to resist what Hans Frei calls the “great reversal” in hermeneutics that took place in the eighteenth century, namely, the exchange of the biblical narrative as our framework for understanding the world for some other story (e.g., neo-Darwinism, existentialism, process philosophy—their name is Legion).

Looking along Scripture instead of at Scripture is a very apt analogy. That explains, for example, some of the strangeness of YEC and Atheist agreement about passages.

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This is from “Meditation in a Toolshed”: http://www.pacificaoc.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-in-a-Toolshed.pdf. A great pearl I would have never found had I not read that article!

I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.

Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.

But this is only a very simple example of the difference between looking at and looking along.

He really should be wearing UVA polarizing sunglasses when he goes out to the toolshed on a bright sunny day. He could have been damaging his retina looking at the beam this way. He has only one set of eyes, take care of them. Of course with the new multi-focus lens used in cataract surgeries, he can have 20/20 vision into his 90’s and beyond. :sunglasses:

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Oh memories with @patrick :sunglasses:.

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