Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A.T. Robertson: Preaching and Scholarship

Rod Decker has done us a great service by OCR'ing A.T. Robertson's 1890 inaugural lecture at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, entitled Preaching and Scholarship. As the title suggests, it is an exploration of the relationship between preaching and scholarship and how the two can serve the gospel." Decker writes:
The heart and mind of a young scholar is very evident here showing the promise of his mature career which still lay ahead when this was written. It is still a superb statement of the importance of education and scholarship, particularly a seminary education, as the best preparation for ministry.
There are some amusing lines in the lecture. For example, "If a numbskull comes to the seminary and comes away a numbskull, do not blame the seminary."

Here are a few other sections I thought were very helpful and well-said:

"Does God put a premium on ignorance in the ministry? We know that he has no use for the pride of learning, but neither does he care for the arrogance of ignorance."

"Does the college and seminary training tend to make better preachers? If not, it is a failure. The German idea is to make scholars first and preachers incidentally. But ours is to make preachers, and scholars only as a means to that end. We have small need in the pulpit for men that can talk learnedly and obscurely about the tendencies of thought and the trend of philosophy, but do not know how to preach Christ and him crucified. The most essential thing to-day is not to know what German scholars think of the Bible, but to be able to tell men what the Bible says about themselves. And if our system of theological training fails to make preachers, it falls short of the object for which it was established. But if it does meet the object of its creation, it calls for hearty sympathy and support."

"My plea is for a scholarship that helps men to preach. For after all, the great need of the world is the preaching of the gospel, not saying off a sermon, but preaching that stirs sinful hearts to repentance and godliness."

"There is a long road of toil and sweat if you want to accomplish much. A true education is never finished, and a finished education is of little use."