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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Academic v. practical- Bridging the gap

For years there has been a very real tension between two different approaches to Scripture.  On the one hand you have the academic approach.  Colleges and universities study the details of Biblical passages, develop and deconstruct varying theological positions, and piece together broken pottery in an attempt to figure out the original context of religious dialogue.

On the other hand you have the practical approach.  Pastors, priests, and deacons are often not concerned with the existence of deutero-Isaiah, Akkadian cognates for Hebrew verbs, or the exact location of Babylon in 830 B.C.E.  They are concerned with a simple and direct communication of God's word and its application for their people from week to week.  These two approaches are as different as they are necessary.

Think about it like this: Christian academics are the test pilots of the faith while pastors (or whatever any individual congregation calls its leaders) are the the commercial pilots taking people on their spiritual journeys.  One cannot exist without the other, just like faith and works in James 2.

Christian academics are on the frontier of Christian thought, testing, examining, and questioning, aspects of our faith which will trickle down and are then explicated by pastors and their like.  Just like test pilots test, examine, and refine aspects of airplane design that eventually get integrated into commercial air technology.  Each side serves the other.

My desire is to help bridge that gap.  There are exciting and significant discussions going on in both "academic" and "practical" circles and my desire is to have one foot in both sides of that discussion, bringing out the practical implications of academic inquiry. 

Tune in next blog for some thoughts about how these two disciplines should be feeding off of each other.

What do you think about this, has the academic study of the Bible gone too far or is the practical side of Biblical study falling behind?  Does the academic study of Scripture even have a place in our churches.  Hit me up with a comment I would love to hear your thoughts!

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