Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Continuing Education for Ministers--Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

I am working on a series of blog posts that deal with the necessity of continuing education for ministers.  The first post was along the lines of the necessity of and reason for continuing education.  While I believe that prayer and ministry of the Word are the major priorities of the minister most of these resources will be tailored toward areas of helping us to get better with that.  I need to always add the necessary disclaimer and say that just because I am pointing to these resources, it does not mean that I am entirely endorsing the content.  However, I can say that in my own experience it was reading and studying things I did not agree with that either helped me to shore up my own beliefs or helped me to change according to what the Scriptures were clearly promoting as doctrine. 

I recently read an article written by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The title was “The Pastor as Theologian” and he noted the great decline in theological acumen when theology was turned into an academic discipline to be taught only in seminaries.  “Every pastor is called to be a theologian.  This may come as a surprise to some pastors who see theology as an academic discipline taken during seminary rather than as an ongoing and central part of the pastoral calling.  Nevertheless, the health of the church depends upon its pastors functioning as faithful theologians—teaching, preaching, defending and applying the great doctrines of the faith.”  Mohler made it clear in his article that the pastoral calling meant that we are to give our minds, hearts, and tongues to the great quest of knowing Scripture and then clearly teaching it to those who are under our care (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 2:2; 4:2-4).  A pastor is to guard and protect the flock and this calls for a clear and well-defined preaching of the Scriptures.  The only way for a man to do this with freshness, clarity, and authority is for him to become immersed in the theology of the Scriptures. 


Mohler noted that pastors are being pulled in a thousand different directions because of the demands of the
church and the unceasing responsibilities that are placed on him.  He said that the managerial approach to ministry has caused many pastors to feel as if they are administrators instead of preachers and theologians.  The goal that the pastor must have in mind is to preach in a way that people will understand how to live out their lives according to the mandates of Scripture for this is where God has given us the instructions.  The goal of a pastor is faithful preaching, God-honoring worship, and practical evangelism and the work of these three things will create a healthy church. 

My preaching cannot just devolve into some topical hobby horse that I ride all the time.  In fact the longer I preach the more I am coming to believe that topical preaching leaves a lot of things in Scripture that are never covered.  Furthermore the preparation process for topical preaching generally only causes me to rearrange what I have already learned about Scripture instead of seeking to chart territory in new areas of Scripture.  To do this means that I will have to form a discipline of conscious and planned study. 

Years ago, I spent some time in seminary and completed a program of study long before the days of the internet.  I am not sure now if I would have done that because the internet is loaded with resources if a man is willing to discipline himself to working with what is available.  Most seminaries have catalogs that map out plans of study and frequently with a little more diligent and direct searching you can find the syllabus, textbooks, and lectures for the class.  One such book I had to work with was Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology along with Berkhoff’s Systematic Theology

It was much to my delight when I found the whole lecture series of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology online about 3 years ago.  They are freely downloadable (mp3 & iTunes) and if you purchase the book (which is worth the money), you can listen to the lectures and take notes and you will literally be almost in a seminary classroom.  The good thing about the lectures are they are divided up into the sections that mimic the book and you can navigate through the subjects that interest you if you are not interested in the whole shooting match.  I can vouch for the fact that these very helpful lectures are going to stretch your mind and probably take you to places you have never considered.  This is important in the learning process because it challenges the status quo.  Also I can assure you it will make you much more adept with the Word in the area of cross-referencing and it will certainly help you with sermon preparation. 

More later. . .

Thanks for reading. . .


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