The (Welcome) Rise of the Pastor-Theologian: A Friendly Response to Donald Miller

In a recent piece posted on his blog, Donald Miller wrote the following cris de coeur on the scholarly nature of the American pastorate:

The church in America is led by scholars. Essentially, the church is a robust school system created around a framework of lectures and discussions and study.

Miller laments this situation and suggests that the divisions in evangelicalism flow from academics:

Church divisions are almost exclusively academic divisions. The reason I don’t understand my Lutheran neighbor is because a couple academics got into a fight hundreds of years ago. And the rest of the church followed them because, well, they were our leaders. So now we are divided under divisions caused by arguments a laboring leadership might never have noticed of cared about. Practitioners care about what works, what gets things done. . . . Educators don’t have to agree at all. They can fight and debate and write papers against each other because, well, the product they are churning out is just thought, not action.

The author of Blue Like Jazz suggests that the church needs to follow the example of Jesus in appointing pastors:

In the great commission, Jesus graduated his first group of students. He pushed them into the world and said, you don’t know everything, but you know enough. You’ll have a guide and that guide will be with you always. Go and teach the world to obey my commands. . . . [H]e taught them by doing, in action, with people, by touching stuff, not by taking over a school and recruiting educators.

As in his previous work, Miller does not fail to entertain and provoke. His punchy writing is fun to read, and I think his main point is worth considering (I, too, feel bad for disenfranchised music executives). It certainly is possible for pastors to lose themselves in reading and writing to the detriment of their shepherding and for Christians to get bogged down in theological disputation. We can all too easily re-create our very own Diet of Worms, thinking that the fate of the church hinges on our latest comment flame-war, neglecting all the while the family, church, and vocation that depends upon us.

I do wonder if Miller, himself something of a bardsman-theologian, bites off a bit more than he can chew in his essay. His heart for Christian unity is commendable, but his understanding of ecclesial division seems characteristically youthful. Scripture is the Word of God; it demands careful handling (2 Tim. 2:15). From the birth of the church, Christians have given their time, their energy, even their very lives to nourish the church and keep it from error. We see this in countless historical examples: Athanasius suffering at the hands of his detractors to champion the then-fragile doctrine of the Trinity, Martin Luther risking his very life to promote the final authority of Scripture, Charles Spurgeon heroically fighting the down-grade in post-Victorian England. Courageous defense, nuanced discernment, necessary separation from false teachers—these traits don’t necessarily play well in postmodernia. They do, however, sustain and strengthen the church by God’s grace (see Rom. 12; 2 Tim. 1; 2 Pet. 2).

Theology Is Practical

This is a broad discussion, and I could say much more, but I will suggest just one other major response to Miller: Scholarship, or theology, or whatever you want to label it, is not the enemy of lived Christianity. Theology, when done biblically, gives life. It is eminently practical. Faithful Christian scholars and theologians necessarily engage in an intensely practical task: teaching ideas that will shape the life of the student and the lives of those the student will affect. I issue a friendly challenge to Miller: Find me some teaching that produces “just thought, not action.” Isn’t Miller doing a form of teaching in his post that is intended to stimulate thought—and isn’t this thought intended to provoke action?

In my systematic theology classes at Boyce College, I do my level best to lay out a theological feast for my students. I gun for their minds, seeking to show them the pleasures of the intellect, handing down to the best of my ability a body of richly biblical doctrine, honed in the fires of history, whittled by the hands of skillful craftsmen, guarded by countless shepherds. At its most high-flown, this doctrine is always, unavoidably, without exception practical. How can it be otherwise? How can the truth that God reigns over creation not produce trust and comfort in the Christian? How can the realization that our justification stems from God’s decree and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness not create gratitude and freedom? How can a careful study of biblical testimony on the eternality of hell not inspire a believer to reach out to lost coworkers, seat-mates, neighbors?

Provided we don’t lose our self in some kind of internal monastic commune, how can the teachings of Scripture—handed down by faithful pastor-theologians and theologian-pastors—not exert a profoundly practical effect? Who was a deeper, more exhilaratingly insightful teacher than Jesus, the man who loosed the apostles to turn the world upside down (Luke 24:32; Acts 17:6)?

I’m happy to report that many portions of the Christian past knew no such division between theology and life, scholarship and sanctification. Many ministers of God’s church worked as pastor-theologians, laboring in their studies amidst the many duties of ministry to produce sermons and works that would feed their people meat and not milk (Heb. 5:12-13). This is true of countless pastors in varied areas of Christian history: John Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Sibbes, Owen (not me, the Brit), Edwards, Spurgeon, and Lloyd-Jones, to name a very few.

There is a reason we still read the sermons and writings of these men, antiquated as their language may be, strange as we may find their historical contexts. They sounded the depths of the Bible in their preparation and created faithful, doxological, and utterly consequential messages. Few if any modern preachers will match Edwards; every preacher can, however, feed his people a biblical feast each Sunday that will enlarge their understanding of God and set their affections on fire, loosing Christocentric citizens of the kingdom to take dominion of their minds, their practices, their families, their communities, and the earth itself.

A Theological Renaissance?

Miller may be right that some churches are teaching-oriented and that scholars lead our churches. I happen to think that contemporary churches suffer far more from pragmatic, “milk”-feeding ministries. Yet in the interest of charitable discussion, let’s grant his point. If this means that our people hear warmed-up lectures on the Bible and fight with a ferocity usually reserved for Vikings or McRib lovers over the precise year in which Christ will return, I share his lament.

But if having scholars as preachers means that shepherds are delving deeply into doctrine to lead their people into life, and theologians are working with all their might to strengthen the church of God, then we are poised for spiritual health and theological maturity, not pointless division. The Reformation had its low points, but do we not feel our hearts stirred by the soaring theology produced by its leading lights and extended to thousands of congregations by their students? If pastors and scholars would take seriously their callings, could we not see God accomplish great things in our day?

I hope that we will. We have contemporary models for this kind of pastoral renaissance. Two of them, John Piper and D. A. Carson, share reflections on robustly theological ministry in a new book I edited with David Mathis, entitled The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry. Here is hoping for many to follow them, resulting in an entire generation of pastor-theologians and theologian-pastors.

As we conclude, perhaps we can consider this call afresh and find fresh stimulus for our calling by listening to the conception of the pastor’s task held by Edwards, one that bears equally on the work of theologians:

Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in Scripture as lights set up in the churches; and in the present state meet their people from time to time in order to instruct and enlighten them, to correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, saying, “This is the way, walk in it” [Is. 30:21]; to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of it, and to refute errors and corrupt opinions, to convince the erroneous and establish the doubting. (Jonathan Edwards, “Farewell Sermon” in Wilson Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Douglas A. Sweeney, eds., The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader (New Haven: Yale, 1999), 217)

  • JMJ

    As one who grew up in the Plymouth Brethren tradition (and still fellowship therein), I sympathize with Miller.

    For those not familiar with the PBs, we (generally) don’t have a pastor, but elders. Teaching is done by people within the assembly, most of whom are self taught.

    As an extension, PB churches tend to be small; a large church being 300-500 members. This is practical, as our elders, who really are our pastors (i.e. shepherds) need to know their flock and to know whom they serve. This familiarity helps in their efforts to shepherd, visit, correct, teach, disciple, etc.

    In my view, today, the definition of pastor has shifted from one of shepherd to teacher. We need good teachers. It doesn’t matter to me if these teachers are professionally trained or not. In the PB churches, these professional preachers are usually itinerant–traveling and speaking. Home grown teachers are taught by their elders and others in the assembly. Those who have been taught, in turn, teach others.

    To me, this is the way it should be. But obviously, I am affected by the tradition in which I grew up, and remain.

  • Eric Rivera

    Thank you for your gracious defense of this “pastor-scholar” movement, Owen.

  • Kyle

    I can echo the concern that in the Reformed world we often produce pastors who have read much theology, but have little preparation (or desire?) to shepherd people. The percentage of exegetical/theological/homiletical courses (~80-90% of courses in the M.Div. program) compared to counseling (~10-20%) is disproportionate compared to the actual work of most pastors at small to medium sized churches who spend far more of their time counseling hurting people than reading a fifth or sixth commentary for their Sunday sermon. The teaching ministries of guys like Piper and Keller are not characteristic of most pulpits, where the pastor is also the counselor and in many cases the administrator as well.

    • Kyle

      *My percentages were estimations based on my own M.Div. program at a major Reformed seminary. Not scientific data.

  • David

    Yes thank you for your defense. It seems odd for Donald to intellectually defend Christian anti-intellectualism.

    Observing the condition of the American Church I would say that the solution is just the opposite of what Donald submits; we need less action at this point and more Pastor-Theologians to rightly divide the word and shepherd God’s people. This will lead to right action, not the sort of liberal Christian social justice that links arms with the world for the sake of humanity, but the sort of action that is truly motivated by the desire to magnify God’s glory and fulfill our ‘reasonable service’ as sinners redeemed.

  • Joel

    I went to the doctor the other day and found out that he also taught at a medical school. So when he tried to diagnose me he went through all these different possibilities. Apparently he’s an expert in his field or something. Next time I go to the doctor, I’m going to get someone who just seems to care more about me and has less degrees or intellectual prestige. I think that’ll work out well for me. After all, if we don’t need educated people delivering and interpreting God’s revelation to man, certainly I don’t need an educated doctor, right?

  • Owen

    Very much appreciate the feedback, all.

    A quick response to a point that has already popped up several times. I’m not advocating for a model of the pastorate that avoids counseling, discipleship, service and more. There’s a great deal that needs to be fleshed in regards to all the other duties incumbent on a pastor. I think we all want pastors to lead us who genuinely love and care for us. But I do think that the pastor’s primary call is to preach the Word, and to do it with unstinting excellence.

    I wonder if some of the concerns raised already are solved in at least two ways: 1) a pastor-theologian who genuinely loves his people and thus gets involved in their lives as best he can (ala Baxter) and 2) a plurality of elders who together take on the work of shepherding the whole congregation. This second matter becomes especially needful in any church larger than thirty members. It seems a practical impossibility for most pastors to singlehandedly care for everyone’s soul. God gave his church a plurality of elders in part, I think, to ensure that the lead pastor could focus on preaching and prayer and so that the elders could spiritually care for the church as a body, with deacons assisting them practically in this task.

    The pastor-theologian model is not a way to get out of the hard work of ministry; it means plunging into it, by first and foremost feeding people meat from the Word of God.

  • Blest

    Owen — I think you might have to re-read Millers article. You seem to be putting words in his mouth he never said or wrote. You write at the start of the third paragraph -”The author of Blue Like Jazz suggests that the church needs to follow the example of Jesus in *appointing pastors:*”

    If you’ll notice, Miller never mentions pastors, or appointing pastors. From my understanding he’s talking about “His disciples,” who were not very well trained, going out and making “disciples of Christ.” Seems, in the bible, not one “disciple of Christ” ever took the title or position of pastor in charge of a congregation. But I might have missed that.

    In your article you quote Miller saying, “Go and teach the world to obey my commands” Here is that verse.

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
    in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
    **teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.**
    Mat 28:19:20 NIV

    Seems Jesus taught “His Disciples” to teach “What” He commanded them. If the word “Disciple” means a learner, a pupil? Then… A “Disciple of Christ” is a learner, a pupil, learning directly from Jesus.

    I havn’t found many pastor-theologins teaching what Jesus commanded “His Disciples.”
    ***Jesus taught “His Disciples”

    1 – NOT to be called *Rabbi* for you have “ONE” teacher, Christ. Mt 23:8 NASB
    2 – NOT to be called *leader* for you have “ONE” leader, Christ, Mt 23:10 NASB
    3 – ALL shall be taught of God. Jn 6:45
    4 – ALL things, shall be taught you by the Holy Spirit, God. Jn 14:26
    5 – ALL truth, will come as the Spirit of truth guides and leads. Jn 16:13
    6 – Jesus, as man, does nothing of himself, and is taught of God. Jn 8:28
    7 – Every one that is of the truth *heareth My voice.* John 18:37
    8 – My sheep *hear My voice*…and they follow me… John 10:27
    9 – Peter, knowing Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God,
    received the revelation from God, and NOT from man. Mt 16:17

    Jesus said Peter was blessed for two reasons.
    1 – You didn’t get it from man. 2 – You got it from the Father.

    Jesus taught *The ”ONE” Teacher* is – Christ – Holy Spirit – Father – God.

    Seems we have many so-called teachers, theologins, and leaders today
    but not many “Disciples of Christ” learning directly from Jesus.

    Jesus taught “His Disciples” NOT to be called teacher or leader
    And none did. They All called themselves “Servants of Christ.”

    If someone calls themself, or thinks themself, a teacher, or a leader…

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ? ;-)
    Or, are they no longer a “Disciple of Christ?”
    Or, are they just a disobedient “Disciple of Christ?”

    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
    For I know not to give flattering titles;
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
    Job 32:21 KJV

    • Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

      So…God doesn’t give the church pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)? So we don’t devote ourselves to the apostles’ DOCTRINE? (Acts 2:42)? Servant-leaders in the church of Christ don’t need to study to show themselves approved unto God by rightly dividing the word of truth? (2 Tim 2:15)?

      Such ridiculous and selective reasoning flies right in the face of the NT. The apostles themselves acknowledged that they were given to prayer and the MINISTRY OF THE WORD OF GOD.

      The problem isn’t too many “pastor-scholars” in the church – the problem is we aren’t training up and turning out that many. God willing, that will all soon change…

      • Arthur Sido


        “The apostles themselves acknowledged that they were given to prayer and the MINISTRY OF THE WORD OF GOD.”

        A) The apostles didn’t function at all like a local church pastor.

        B) The ministry of the Word of God does not equal preparing and delivering monologue sermons.

        Your entire comment presupposes the traditional church model without a moments thought to whether what you are saying is an accurate representation of Scripture. Note for example in Ephesians 4 that the purpose of elders/pastors is to equip the entire Body for the work of ministry, not to stand up front and delvier sermons week after week.

        We have plenty of “scholars” or at least wannabe scholars in the church. We need more servants who serve out of love and not for a paycheck, men who serve because they are in Christ, not because they have a title or an ordination certificate.

        • JMJ

          This was sort of what I was trying to communicate in my comment above re: the Plymouth brethren movement.

          you did a much better job than I. Thank you.

          • Arthur Sido

            JMJ, I was in a PB assembly in Michigan up until recently, liked it a lot!

        • Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

          I didn’t say that the ministry of the Word = lecture-style sermons. It does involve the faithful communication of the Word for the building up of God’s children. You can do that effectively in a dialogue format, multiple speakers on one things, etc.

          Further, I haven’t said anything about a particular model of a church (I’m fairly open when it comes to church polity) – I’ve simply said that I believe that the rise of “pastor-theologians” is a good thing, especially in the Biblically-anemic age in which the church finds itself. I haven’t said it has to necessitate a particular church model. If anything, you’re the one up in arms about the “traditional” church model.

    • Mark


      2 Timothy 2:4 “Preach the Word”. Is Paul contradicting Jesus? Of course not! Being “taught by God” means that the mind is quickened to believe and receive the Word of God by the Spirit. You may want to check the majority of the texts you provided for context. Timothy was a pastor/elder, not an apostle, yet he was frequently reminded to preach the Word. Consider 1 Tim 1:6,7 “Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” There is a clear directive in the NT that elders should preach and that they should be knowledgable in what they are teaching. Of course preachers don’t function to teach their own messages. They teach the message that Jesus himself taught, which is the gospel.

      • Blest

        Mark – When you say “Preach the word” I think you mean 2 Tim 4:2. And you say Timothy was a pastor/elder. I can’t seem to find any scriptures that say Timothy was a pastor. Do you have any scriptures that say Timothy was a pastor. I know that’s a common “Tradition of Men” but I don’t think that’s in the bible.

        In fact – Do you know of anyone in the Bible with the “Title” Pastor? Or, called Pastor? And every Pastor I’ve met also has the “Title” Reverend. Does anyone have the “Title” Reverend

  • Jason

    I appreciated the Gospel Coalition’s defense of certain topics. It helps me find a medium between the two positions. I hope we can be a humble church that recognizes the wealth of the tradition behind us but at the same time relies on the Spirit and not the scholar to lead us further into the Kingdom of God.

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  • Kelly

    Truth is not a doctrine…Truth is Jesus. This suggests relationship? Truth will always be confirmed in the Word- your interpretation of the article seems to suggest that we cannot understand nor approach Truth without the pastors/theologians…..we need a priest to interpret the Word? What happened to the ministry of the HOly Spirit that leads us into Truth?

  • Blest

    Douglas – Sorry for not explaining myself properly. You mention pastors and teachers in Eph 4:11. I never said there were no shepherds and teachers in the body of Christ. Just no one with the title shepherd. Only Jesus has the title Shepherd. And, “What” were the “teachers” Paul talked about supposed to teach? Wasn’t it what Jesus taught “His Disciples?”

    Paul the apostle, a “Disciple of Christ” taught what Jesus commanded “His Disciples.”.

    1- The gospel, NOT taught to me by man, but by revelation. Ga 1:11,12
    2 – I conferred NOT with flesh and blood. Ga 1:16
    3 – You have heard Jesus, and have been taught by Jesus. Eph 4:21
    4 – You are taught by God to love one another. 1 Thes 4:9
    5 – When together, all can teach, all can get revelation. 1 Cor 14:26
    6 – Be led by the Spirit of God, and be a son of God. Rm 8:14

    When Paul said, – “and some **shepherds and teachers** for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” in Eph 4:11, I don’t see Paul having any thoughts about once a week…

    Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews.
    Then a week goes by and most has been forgotten. If even heard. ;-)
    Is that “How” Jesus taught “His Disciples?” Wasn’t He “daily” with “His Disciples?”

    Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats daily, for life, eternity.

    John the apostle, a “Disciple of Christ” also taught what Jesus commanded “His Disciples.”.

    1 – ALL know, discern, all things. From the anointing in you. 1 Jn 2:20
    2 – You need not any man teach you. Some will seduce you. 1 Jn 2:26:27
    3 – ALL things, are taught to you by the anointing. 1 Jn 2:27

    Pastor/teachers in pulpits “create” spectators in pews. Jesus also taught in the streets. “His Disciples” watched Him obeying His Father that dwelled in Him and doing nothing of Himself. Then they went out preaching the Kingdom of God and healing the sick, telling the folks that the Kingdom of God has come nigh unto you. Just like Jesus.

    Today, the Pastor/Teacher makes a name for himself, a reputation, BUT…
    **man now looks to man** for learning, revelation, and NOT to Jesus. :-(

    Teach a man to hear from Jesus, learn from Jesus, revelation from Jesus…
    You have, “Disciples of Christ.” Learners of Christ. Ekklesia of Christ.
    Now Jesus can feed, lead, and teach them “daily,” forever, Eternity…

    Jesus learned directly from God. Revelation.
    Peter learned directly from God. Revelation.
    Paul learned directly from God. Revelation.

    Jesus taught, God will teach you.
    John taught, God will teach you.
    Paul taught, God will teach you.

    “What” were the “teachers” Paul talked about supposed to teach?
    “What’ were the “elders” who were to teach supposed to teach?

    Did they just give the people already chewed on fish? Their revelation? The denominations I believes? What they learned in seminary? The five points of Calvin?

    Or, did they teach, get it yourself from Jesus? And how to get it?
    And they did nothing of themselves but what they saw the Father doing?
    Like Jesus, Peter, and Paul

    • Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

      So they are to receive direct revelation of the will of God from heaven as to what they are to do (not on doctrine) and teach how to do those things? Further, are they to teach others to receive direct revelation? Just trying to figure out what position you are suggesting…

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  • Lela

    While I appreciate this very gracious defense of the need and importance of producing theologically-sound pastors, I understand where Miller is coming from. Personally, I have felt that there is a sense that the “scholar-pastor” is not relational and– for lack of a better word– down-to-earth enough for the body of believers he oversees. What is intellectual Christianity if we are NOT using it to breathe life into our faith? I think execution is more of the issue rather than the production of the scholar-pastor.

  • Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

    I don’t think people are giving Brother Owen a fair hearing. Did he not say PASTOR-theologian? As in a shepherd of the flock AND someone who studies to show themselves approved…?

  • Mel Cuthbert

    Love of theology is love for God and to ignore Theology is to ignore the ‘Theos’.

    • Douglas K. Adu-Boahen


    • Dan

      Not necessarily… “theology” is a two part word, of course; you can’t equate love for theology with love for God, and the absence of it to less love for God. I know fellow believers who love theology because they love God. and i’ve talked to fellow believers who have confessed loving theology (in the past) because they loved knowledge. i’ve known Christians who could stand to dig deeper into theology, but they don’t because they just don’t care that much about growing. and i’ve seen Christians who humble me because they don’t know theological terms and can’t argue about predestination, but their love for Jesus is deep and wide.

      knowledge puffs up, love builds up. -a very knowledgeable (and loving) Pharisee.

      of course it’s a balance, and of course knowledge of Him helps us love Him, and accept His love, etc. i’m not anti-knowledge. but i guess i see two types of people in the owen/donald dialogue…neither are wrong and the pull brings us closer to where Jesus wants us, i think.

  • Terry Gibson

    I appreciate your analysis, Owen. To be a pastor is to be a theologian.
    I just started reading ‘Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology’ last evening. [the printed talks from the 2008 T4G conference.] Ligon Duncan’s introduction spoke very well to this issue. As a pastor I am continually sharpening my understanding of theology and it continually pushes me into deeper pastoral care of my people.
    To separate the study of theology as somehow unimportant or of lesser importance misses the point of Scripture. It is about God and how he reveals his glory to man.

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  • Pete Scribner

    I think Miller is right when he says, “So now we are divided under divisions caused by arguments a laboring leadership might never have noticed of cared about. Practitioners care about what works, what gets things done.”

    If only guys like Calvin ever actually pastored a church…

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  • Blest

    Douglas K. Adu-Boahen – You ask “Just trying to figure out what position you are suggesting.”

    Hopefully, what I’m suggesting is what “Jesus taught” His Disciples about making Disciples of Christ. And what “Paul taught.” And what “John taught.” If you’re a “Disciple of Christ” you can learn directly from Jesus for yourself. You need NO man teach you. The Holy Spirit will teach you ALL Truth.

    If you’ll re-read what was written I think you’ll see what Jesus taught His Disciples is way different then what todays Pastor/Theologian/Scholar in the so-called “local church” is teaching the saints about making disciples.

    In my experience todays Pastor/Theologian/Scholars are NOT making “Disciples of Christ ” or “Learners of Christ.” They are making disciples of: their denomination, their Traditions, their seminary, their movement, their theology.

    Jesus taught in the streets by doing. He preached the Kingdom of God and healed the sick. He told His Disciples He wasn’t doing the miracles it was the Father who dwelled in Him that was doing the miracles. Then, with very little training, He sent them out to do the same thing, with the same resources He had as man – A living God within. He told them to go, preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick, and they did. Because they observed Jesus doing it and trusting His Father who dwelled in Him. Jesus taught His Disciples by example to believe in miracles and to trust an indwelling God.

    Luke 9:2 KJV
    And he sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

    Luke 10:9 KJV
    And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

    Mark 16:20 KJV
    And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them,
    and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

    Are your Pastor/Theologians examples? Teaching you how to hear His Voice and follow Jesus?
    Are your Pastor/Theologians examples? Teaching you how to pray for the sick and see them healed?
    Are your Pastor/Theologians examples? Teaching you how to trust in an indwelling God?
    Are your Pastors seeing the Lord work with them, confirming His word with signs following?

    Why are they NOT teaching you “how to do” what Jesus commanded? :-(

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice;”
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.

    Be blessed in your search for Truth… Jesus.

  • Steven G.

    i think we have to resist the tendency to think either/or here; pastors are either theologians/teachers, or they are relational/shepherds. We have to be both, because Jesus is both. We do need to delve deeply into the Word, and we need to know and love our people. If we don’t, we’re not being faithful to our calling to shepherd the flocks put before us. We have to be students of both.
    i would add that teaching the flock involves more than just delivering information. It involves calling the congregation to put the theology into practice. And that is done most effectively when we lead by example. I would put forth Richard Baxter’s ministry as an example to imitate.

  • Theron Clay Mock III

    Thanks I’ve discussed this with my college pastor at home and he said something around the same lines! Cool stuff!

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  • Dave

    Owen, I admire your passion for truth and the charitable tone for our brother Donald Miller. Yet, I think you’ve created a bit of straw-man of Miller’s position. He wrote, “Because we’ve been led by scholars for so long, we have slightly distorted ideas about Christian discipleship.” His critique was not to do away with theology, but to find a more apropos balance.

    And your passionate appeal to Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Augustine, and Edwards as models of pastor-scholars is a much needed balance point. Sadly, most of laboring as church leaders lack the unique gifts and talents of those giants. Few can care well for the flock, and create arguments in defense of doctrine that will stand under a millennia of scrutiny while shepherding our homes.

    While good theology is essential to good works and orthopraxy, most seminaries do not well equip practitioners for the theological servant balance I think Mr. Miller and you both desire.

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