There continues to be a disconnect between pew and pulpit, pulpit and lectern; this is my concern. For the rest of this very brief post we will reflect on my concern.
My concern is this: I have been drinking deeply and regularly from the deep wells of Christian reality and teaching for many years now (both formally and informally). I have become accustomed to theological jargon, and traditional Christian lexical reality and the concepts they signify through habituation. As a result I have gained access to and depth understanding of realities about God as Triune and God Incarnate in Jesus Christ that otherwise I would have no access to nor understanding of.
I have been personally edified in so many ways that it seems a crime to keep it all to myself. But this is where the concern arises: When trying to share these deep born experiences I have had with God in Christ, as a result of drinking deeply from the aforementioned theological fountains, it becomes exceedingly difficult to do so; and this for multitudinous reasons. 1) Folks who do not have the formal theological and biblical training, but who are Christians, find it very difficult to dive in head first into the “deep end” so to speak. 2) Many Christians don’t even realize that there is a whole other universe just parallel to them provided for by Christ for His Church through His provision of teachers (through the centuries and millennia of the Church); as a result Christians when confronted with vocabulary and concepts from this other universe believe it to be an alien life form and thus not worthy of further pursuit. 3) Etc.
The consequence of all of this, as I see it, is that theologians simply give up, as do the laity, and each pushes deeper into their own comfort zones (whether that be academic theology or populace church theology). Personally, the impact this has on me is to feel like academic theology is really a form of Gnosticism which the ‘elect’ only have access to, this special and deep ‘knowledge’ of God while the laity simply must live on the bread-crumbs if that (and that is usually a willful choice on their part, but as I noted, based upon a false mis-perception of things which has often been fostered by academic theologians and their entrenchment in the specialized universe of theological lineage).
There appears to be a movement towards what is called the ‘pastor-theologian’, of which Kevin Vanhoozer is a big part, but even that, as you read Vanhoozer’s 51 theses on the trajectory, sounds out of touch in many ways. It just sounds like another academic move made for academics (whether that be comprised of professional theologians and/or pastors, or both). My concern though is more visceral than this; I am simply concerned about people missing out on what I have access to on a daily basis. And I am lamenting the fact that most people in the body of Christ today will never experience the depth dimension of Christian reality that is actually available to them and for them.
What I wouldn’t want anyone to conclude from what I just wrote is that I think Christian reality can be reduced to a brute type of intellectualism; that couldn’t be further from what I am attempting to sketch here—just the opposite in fact! My desire is that people, whether academic or not, would begin to partake of the riches available for them, and that they wouldn’t just say “oh, I’m not wired like that, I could never understand that.” My desire is that the Fundamentalism and correlating anti-intellectualism attendant to that, and the inherent laziness associated with that would be repented of to the point that evangelical Christians will throw off the hubris they have grown accustomed to in their sub-culture and realize that the reality of Holy Scripture (Jesus Christ!) is tied into a whole lineage and tradition provided for directly by Jesus Christ. That church history didn’t start in 1962 among the Jesus People, but that it started at Pentecost and continues to press forward full of the gifts and riches that Christ continues to provide for its edification through providing teachers and pastors, evangelists, and apostles with the goal of pressing us deeper into the ecumenical unity of the one faith delivered once and for all to the saints. Hopefully you can catch my heart here.
See this complementing type of post I once wrote and just stumbled upon as I wrote this one: Uncle Karl.
And this one: Wrestling With God.