March 28, 2010

Seduced by the Lust for Mastery

I would encourage everyone; but, especially all pastors and teachers, to read the chapter by D.A. Carson from The Trials of Theology. It is available online as a "pdf" file. The following are a few excerpts. You will find a link to the pdf at the end of this post.

"...within biblical studies there are few who study the Bible; rather, one writes a learned tome on one facet of pentateuchal criticism, on the theology of Haggai, on cognate Seminitc idioms; one facet of the synoptic problem, on the use of the Old testament in Hebrews, on the significance of pistis Christous, "the faith of Christ', in current debates on the new perspective on Paul. As the old adage puts it, we learn more and more about less. and less."

"Scanning this brief list of domains that generate trails for those engaged in biblical studies--whether 'trials' in the sense of difficulties, or 'trials' in the sense of temptations--I am struck by how interrelated they are. And as an antidote, one recalls the words of Calvin:

I have always been exceedingly delighted with the words of Chrysostom, 'The foundation of our philosophy is humility;' and still more of those of Augustine, 'As the orator, when asked, What is the first precept in eloquence? answer, Delivery; What is the second? Delivery: What is the third? Delivery; so, if you ask me in regard to the precepts of the Christian Religion, I will answer, first, second, and third, Humility.'

Such humility will teach us the inestimable privilege accorded to those of us who are free to devote many hours each week in studying God's gracious self-disclosure in holy Scripture, learning to think God's thoughts after him, working carefully and patiently through words breathed out by God Himself (however mediated through highly diverse human writers) that we many better know the Word incarnate. The more we revel in the sheer joy of this privilege, the less we will succumb to the trials of biblical studies, and the more will we sing the new song of those who have been redeemed by the Lamb; the less will we be seduced by the lust for mastery, and the more will we delight in Him who is Master of all."

"...the mark of true growth in the study of Scripture is not so much that we become masters of the text as that we are mastered by the text.

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