In addition to all of my Galatians writing, I plan on doing some general writing as well, so this post falls into this category.
I was sitting in class today wondering why it is that academia has such an influential role in the church when I realized that your average pastor doesn’t have close to the amount of time necessary to do what most academics do. Most pastors can’t just spend hours researching and writing except what is necessary to preach on Sunday morning and keep their heads above water. It is the academic who is often able to sit back, make observations, research information, and then synthesize that information in order to write a highly influential book.
The problem with that is that they are academics and not practitioners, and oftentimes their audience of influence is that of the practitioner, a.k.a. the pastor. So, while a lot of their input might be theologically grounded, I wonder how often they are in touch with reality. How can someone who has never been a pastor tell a pastor how to better and more theologically consistently use his office for the benefit of the body of Christ? I would bet that many academics miss the mark.
It was in thinking about this dilemma that I came up with a great solution: the retired pastor who has “retired” to academia. Hopefully these men are immersed in scripture, after preaching sermon after sermon after sermon for many years. Undoubtedly, they have done much research and study to prepare those sermons. And of course, they have actually been there, done that, and know what it is like to be a pastor. But, after they retire, they are able to take a step back from the pastor’s office and think about the lessons learned and the things that could be done differently.
With this in mind, it is hard to describe the anticipation with which I look forward to reading Eugene Peterson’s new six-part (or is it five? I don’t remember) magnum opus on spiritual theology. I have the first book in the series on my shelf, waiting for me to dig into it. Unfortunately, I have 2 books I am currently reading for pleasure that I am forcing myself to finish before I pick up Peterson’s book. On top of that, I have a ton of reading that I must do simply for classes, which means it is quite possible that I won’t get to read Peterson’s book until after graduation. I found out that the second book of the series came out recently, which means that I’m quite behind. I’d like to get the first two read before the third comes out.
I have a deep respect for Peterson having read Working the Angles a few years ago and then more recently reading an interview with him in Christianity Today. I also know that he had a successful pastorate that was immersed in the study of scripture (hello, The Message?). I can’t wait to see what this wise man has to say. I hope there are many more like him.