Theological Discernment

From Scott Gibson's Biblical Preaching in an Anti-Authority Age in Preaching to A Shifting Culture.

Preachers need to cultivate theological discernment. Evangelicals are pastoral people. We want men and women and boys and girls to embrace Jesus Christ as Savior. Our passion to reach souls may at times soften our ability to determine strengths and weaknesses of practices, methods, or the theological assumptions behind them. At times we exhibit an evangelical naivete. Evangelical naivete may be seen in the following ways: First, we assume that what is done has been thought through and is biblically sound. Second, we are pragmatists and think, "If it works, it must be fine." Third, we compromise our misgivings by keeping silent. Or worse, we don't have the theological background informing our ministry, and thus we fall prey to anything that comes along.
One of the challenges that I find is that there is an enormous amount of change in today's theological climate. It seems that almost every major doctrinal category has been re-thought, re-developed, questioned, etc. - within "evangelicalism."

What do you do to stay theologically sharp when you have numerous other pastoral tasks to care for?


Milton Stanley said...

I make a point of reading the Bible devotionally every morning and taking some time to meditate on what I've read. While I may take notes for future preaching, the text I read devotionally is not the one I'm preaching or teaching on at the time.

I don't mean to sound self-pious or simplistic, but the Bible is the sourcebook. Everything else is, at best, commentary.


John said...

Pure speculation on my part, since I don't occupy a pulpit, but....

Multitask theology into other activities, such as your ongoing series on Romans.

And as Milton wisely says, Bible, Bible, Bible. You can't have too much of it.

Malcolm said...

I can't agree more about the comments concerning the Word of God, it certainly is where it all starts.

As to your question, some things that i do are read theology texts on a semi-regular basis. (I have been loving Wayne Grudem's text for the reasons you are asking this question - helpful in thinking through implications in parctical theology).

Another thing I try to do, and am learning along the way, is to engage in cultural influences from an evangelical theological POV. for example, i am beginning an adult sunday school class in May that will look at hte claims of the DaVinci code and contrast them with what scripture really says, and what theology teaches us. Davinci will merely be the spring board to other topics like a proper hermenutic and how to relate theological concepts to our everyday lives.

I find that it is a constant discipline to run theology through the catagories in which i live and operate in this world. The sobering thought all to often is that i cling to what i know or what I have learned in the world first and go to the scripture and theology second (and sometimes even further down on the list).

Hope this is helpful. the Preaching To A Shifting culture book is the next on my shelf to read (trying to get through Bonhoffer's Discipleship right now).

By the way, i just recently got put onto your blog by way of clicking next blog from another blog that i readl rather providential as i am enjoying your thoughts and ideas tremendously.


jon said...

Blog, baby!

Seriously, there are some very good blogs out there to help one stay abreast of contemporary theological issues. I do think one must keep reading "older" theology more than 100 years old...stuff that has withstood the test of time...Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, etc.

Aaron said...

"What do you do to stay theologically sharp when you have numerous other pastoral tasks to care for?"

Staying theologically sharp is pastoral ministry. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend Eugene Peterson's book _The Contemplative Pastor_, especially the chapter entitled "The Unbusy Pastor". His argument is that we betray our calling when we become frantically busy to the point of neglecting true pastoral ministry.

John said...

I am in agreement with my brothers on this and am an avid reader of the 'Christian Warriors' who preceeded us.

I would also prioritise Mat 25:34-46 to really stay theologically sharp!