Wisdom for students of the Bible at theological colleges

Bible colleges and seminaries are starting their new academic year now. Timothy Gombis and Daniel Kirk have both posted something to address students. They can be found here, here, and here.

Here are some excerpts that you may like.

Tim Gombis on “Study as Worship”

In the same way, churches need skilled ministers who are well-versed in theology and in study of the Scripture and its various genres in order to be reliable guides, helping people navigate the storms and stresses of life.  And it’s not the point to learn big truths in order to impress people with your knowledge.  You need to penetrate into the core of Scripture’s great truths here in the classroom so that you can speak to people in their own language, translating the faith for everyday pilgrims on the sojourn of discipleship to Jesus.

You need to learn about walking faithfully with God when life hurts from Jeremiah and the Psalms.  You need to understand the subtle threats of life from Proverbs.  You need to grasp the surprising character of Jesus in Mark.  You think you know Jesus?  So did the disciples, and Jesus rebuked them time and again.  Maybe you need to take a closer look and see that you are really devoted to your idea of Jesus, and not the actual person.  Get to know Mark, and that Gospel will shake you to your core.  But that’ll be good for you and you’ll be good for the church, but only if you study.  Only if you apply yourself to your work, immerse yourself in the text of Scripture and grapple with the theological notions that your professors introduce to you.

There are loads of common-sense teachers out there.  If we want to hear from Dr. Phil we can just turn on the TV.  But God’s people need to hear from God.  And not just platitudes about God ripped off from Christian greeting cards.  Some of the most crushing and damaging things that come from the mouths of Christian people are empty platitudes that sound like wisdom, but are actually false counsel.  If you have a vague idea of what Scripture says, you’ll be of no use to the church.  But if you study diligently, you can be a gift to God’s people and skillfully invite them into the wonder of God’s blessing.

Daniel Kirk’s “Open Letter to New Testament students”

But if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.

Here is what I promise to do for you: I promise to leave you with a Jesus who is worth following, a Christian vocation that’s worth risking your life on, and a Bible that will guide you toward both.

In other words, I promise that I will not leave you empty-handed; I promise that my goal is to strengthen you as a faithful follower of Christ. I have not come to steal, kill, and destroy, but to help you better see the One who is the way of life, and how scripture is a witness to him.

So for my part, I promise to leave you with a faith worth believing.

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