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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Across the Theological Beltway

Alright, I confess – I am a news junkie. I listen to Glenn Beck, Rush, Hannity, Boortz, and even Savage on occasion. When I am online, I always have an extra window open just for the Drudge Report and Brietbart when reading at the apartment, and 24/7 cable news is muted while I’m reading and studying. In the political sphere, there is an elitist group of pundits and politicians who are called the “beltway boys”. These “movers and shakers” can be found interviewed on hot-button issues and read in the big press op-ed columns. Whether it be conservatives or liberals (but especially liberals), there is the idea that they should do politics for you. To them you are neither qualified nor carry the credentials to be informed and engaged in the political issues of the day. For you to join the public square of politics is to undermine their superiority and challenge their impeccability. The best thing you and I can do is simply consent and comply for the good of our country and the betterment of our future. Since I have been blogging, I have noticed that there is a similar elitist mentality in the “theological beltway.” Most accomplished scholars, professors, and PhD’s hate blogs because, in my opinion, they think we don’t deserve to be “published” and have our work viewed by a larger audience. The criteria is almost as if your work cannot be published in JETS, EvQ, SBL, CT, or World, then you don’t deserve to be read. Furthermore, I think that the little man who would be at best a theological intern for these elites are perceived as the “bad boys of blogging” in that we are finding ourselves in some sort of controversy, debate, or current issue which is getting public attention. Part of me wonders if there is a sense of frustration or envy, for I would dare say that a well-known blogger would get more reads from his blog than a well-written, thoroughly investigated article in JETS. And to make matters more provocative, many bloggers don’t carry the credentials that would qualify them via academic achievement, theological contribution, or denominational acclaim that the religious elites have. A concern among elitists appears to be a diminishing state of prominence and transcendence, and the dismissal of dialogue is evidence that they are not willing to give any non-elite credibility by bringing them to the table. Yet one of the encouraging things I am finding about bloggers with whom I associate is that they are well-read and genuinely desirous to be grounded in truth and centered on the glory of God. Admittedly so, I am aware that there are some irresponsible bloggers who don’t realize the dangerous consequences of reckless comments and inflammatory instigations. Recently I have come across some blogs that are utterly disrespectful, entirely trivial, and most importantly irresponsible. But this reality as an inevitable consequence should not overlook the potential good blogging can bring. Among certain people I have been considered one of those “bad boys” because I am willing to bring to the forefront the synergistic teaching of prominent Bible teachers and preachers, the inconsistency of well-respected leaders, and the spiraling degradation of the church growth movement. My motivation on these matters is not for the sake of being controversial. It is that my conscience arrests me, and the personal investigation and/or confrontation of the matter is commanded in Scripture for me (and all believers for that matter). Whether it is Nathan White addressing the semi-Pelagian stance of Hunt or me in the aforementioned matters, if we had “Dr.” in front of our names or a book on the front shelf at Lifeway, would that make any difference? I think so. We are bad precisely because we are not on the “beltway.” The credentials and qualifications to contend for the truth and fight the good fight is the authority of God’s Word. I am not waiting until I get a widespread professional network of high-profile theologians. I am not waiting until I fill the west wall of my study with self-congratulatory certificates. I am not going to think that I have to have an article published in JETS to think I have the right to think critically, study rigorously, or write unapologetically. I may never have a work citied or a work altogether. I may never pastor a mega-church or be a president of the SBC. I may never be on the cover of CT and be interviewed on the most salient issue on the horizon of Christianity. But that’s okay. These should be nothing but consequential, not motivational. What motivates me is a passion for the glory of God and His truth. I am reminded of the sobering admonition of Paul to Timothy which has eclipsed the commentary of a crowd and silenced the scoffers. He says, “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourselves to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself, and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:11-16 It is my desire to be competent to discuss important theological, cultural, and political matters with those in academia. It is also my desire to encourage and foster theological development through discussion, exhortation, and exposition to all the people who pack the pew each day and want more than a superficial walk of transience or trendiness pervading our church today. On the one hand there is the populist anti-intellectualism; on the other hand, there is the high-brow elitism. So if I never make it on the theological beltway, my feelings won’t be hurt. My guest bedroom/office does me just fine. In the mean time, I will put my pants on one feet at a time and stick my highlighters in my hip pocket for an exciting new day learning, growing, and sharing.


Anonymous Brittney said...

I know all about those highlighters. You keep blogging Tim; I enjoy reading your blog. I think you do a great job.

11/15/2005 10:20:00 AM


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