Do You Want A Scholar Or A Pastor?

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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
So let me ask you...is that a teaching you might get from a particular church? Where would you send someone like these friends of mine?

Off the top of my head I have no idea which church does or does not teach this stuff. Most people don't "teach it as a worldview." They deal with it when it comes up in the passage. And given that most churches reflect the current culture, I doubt they are that interested in scholarly stuff. As Reformed people we know that. That's why our churches are usually small.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The elohim are gathered together in a council. Unless there was something like an ANE version of the UN, then we know the rulers of the earth didn't gather together.
Actually we know they did, at last the Sanhedrin did (which was instituted by Moses by the way, so well before Asaph). Psalm 89:6 is not necessarily talking about the same thing, even if it uses the same term, though it might be. Anyway "in heaven" and "the sons of the mighty" there are not necessarily the same either, so the comparison doesn't obtain on any level. None of this proves anything about the congregation of the mighty in Psalm 82 being in the unseen realm.
 

Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
There are only two pastors whose opinions I care about. They are at my local church. To be fair, I wouldn't expect a small church pastor to be able to wade through these issues. I don't expect a megachurch TGC type pastor to have the competence to wade through these issues (yes, that's probably a cheap shot at the TGC. Point still stands, though). And if the commentary is more sermonic in nature, then it won't engage in scholarship by definition. That's why it's okay to read peer-reviewed scholarship.
Does it change the meaning of psalm 82 one way or another if it's lesser gods or earthly judges? Can a lay person ever know what it means from a plain reading?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Actually we know they did, at last the Sanhedrin did (which was instituted by Moses by the way, so well before Asaph). Psalm 89:6 is not necessarily talking about the same thing, even if it uses the same term, though it might be. Anyway "in heaven" and "the sons of the mighty" there are not necessarily the same either, so the comparison doesn't obtain on any level. None of this proves anything about the congregation of the mighty in Psalm 82 being in the unseen realm.

The Sanhedrin didn't judge the nations. She was actually judged by the nations.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Does it change the meaning of psalm 82 one way or another if it's lesser gods or earthly judges? Can a lay person ever know what it means from a plain reading?

The plain reading is that Elohim stands in the midst of the elohim. Depending on how you gloss that might change things later on (like where you think this location was; when it happened; who was involved?).

Can a lay person know this? Sure, but they have to study and we are a culture that doesn't like rigoros, analytical thinking.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
But to the larger point and leaving Heiser aside: just ask them pointed questions. How can they receive the sacraments if not in a church body? To be sure, they'll probably have an answer to that, but at least you are getting them to be consistent.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
But to the larger point and leaving Heiser aside: just ask them pointed questions. How can they receive the sacraments if not in a church body? To be sure, they'll probably have an answer to that, but at least you are getting them to be consistent.
That's where I would stand too. I've read a bit by Heiser. He is thought-provoking and seems to be a competent scholar. I know little else about him, but he doesn't seem to come across as a substitute for local pastors and the local church.

The reason I agreed with the recommendation of 1 John is that he takes us back to basics when we are beset with distractions:

God is light. If you are in darkness you cannot stand in his presence at all.

It doesn't matter how interested one is in the inner workings of God's court, if you try to get into his court on your own knowledge, you die. Esther 4:11 tells us of the rule that whoever comes into King Ahasuerus’s court without being called shall be put to death, except if he holds the golden scepter out to him or her. How much more powerful and intolerant of darkness is the God of Light?

The Gospel first. Only by faith and through Christ can one enter into the Court and know the Father. Christ tells us that if we love him, we obey his commandments. John repeats that in his epistle. If you do not love the brethren you are in darkness.

Not something we like to hear, of course.

Praise God for the remedy: "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 Jn. 2:1 NKJ)
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The Sanhedrin didn't judge the nations. She was actually judged by the nations.
Not sure what you mean by this, or why judging the nations is even relevant at all to the subjects of Psalm 82. In fact Jesus says that they were those "to whom the word of God came", so not the nations (Gentiles), to who, at that point, the word of God had not come.

Also, if the Psalm is referring to a "divine council", what do you think is the meaning of the criticisms levelled against them? Is this "divine council" ruling unjustly? Are they going to "die like men"?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Not sure what you mean by this, or why judging the nations is even relevant at all to the subjects of Psalm 82.

God is to judge the nations, which the council members did not do.
Also, if the Psalm is referring to a "divine council", what do you think is the meaning of the criticisms levelled against them?

It is a divine council. The Hebrew text says so.
Is this "divine council" ruling unjustly?
Yes. Verse 2 says so.
Are they going to "die like men"?

Yes. The text says so. If the members were simply men, it would be anti-climactic to tell them they were going to die like men.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
That being said, I have no huge w-view issue riding on Psalm 82. Ps. 82 doesn't determine how one reads Gen 6, Jude, 2 Pet, Isaiah 24-26. Obviously, it nicely supplements such a reading but it doesn't determine it.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Side note, (and don't ask me where this is, I can't remember, I just remember memorizing it 30 years ago) - Calvin said, "I am first a good scholar so I can be a good pastor."
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes. The text says so. If the members were simply men, it would be anti-climactic to tell them they were going to die like men.
Jacob, I don't have time to enter the larger debate, and I'm not entirely unsympathetic to Heiser's view, but I just wanted to question the final statement. Look at Ezekiel 28:1-10: the King of Tyre is told that he will die like a man (v. 10); it's not anticlimactic because of his claims to divine status. So too any leader who claimed (semi)divine status could be addressed in this way.

As someone who has been both a pastor and a scholar, I am grateful for what I learn from unbelieving scholarship, as well as from believing scholars who aren't called to be pastors. It makes me a better preacher and pastor. But as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13, even understanding all mysteries and having all knowledge are absolutely nothing without love - first for God, and then for the people, who are Christ's body all around me. How can I claim to love God, if I don't love my brothers and sisters in the church (1 John 4:20)?
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
I think having a pastor is most important but scholarly tendencies are important in that pastor. It's sad to see a pastor who does not know the Word through and through, and who isn't knowledgeable on what he believes, why he believes it, and who hasn't studied the alternative views and practices of those who don't believe his views. The mind is vitally important, and much of our life and actions are a result of what's in our mind.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
the King of Tyre is told that he will die like a man (v. 10); it's not anticlimactic because of his claims to divine status. So too any leader who claimed (semi)divine status could be addressed in this way.

I understand, and I, too, am trying to steer the conversation away from Heiser.
 

D.L. Arter

Puritan Board Freshman
I think having a pastor is most important but scholarly tendencies are important in that pastor. It's sad to see a pastor who does not know the Word through and through, and who isn't knowledgeable on what he believes, why he believes it, and who hasn't studied the alternative views and practices of those who don't believe his views. The mind is vitally important, and much of our life and actions are a result of what's in our mind.
There's a local church that recently hired a new pastor and one of the elders commented to me a few months after they hired him that it was amazing how much of a difference a pastor who seeks to study God's Word thoroughly makes (apparently their last pastor was known for being less than studious and for "being moved by the Spirit" and changing his sermons last minute). Unfortunately, there are many in ministry that don't study well and think that their bare-minimum is worth both their congregation's time as well as God's blessing. And unfortunately, there are plenty of congregations that allow pastors like that to remain in their pulpits for far too long.
 

Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the responses everybody. Again I wasn't trying to make this all about Heiser, even though that's what happened. Most of the time when I'm discussing things with my two friends, they will steer it into his stuff. So I won't comment on him anymore.

But reading the posts is helping me to get my focus right when I talk to them. I think they just grabbed the information they found, and may be using it to fuel their disinterest in being in fellowship with the body.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for the responses everybody. Again I wasn't trying to make this all about Heiser, even though that's what happened. Most of the time when I'm discussing things with my two friends, they will steer it into his stuff. So I won't comment on him anymore.

But reading the posts is helping me to get my focus right when I talk to them. I think they just grabbed the information they found, and may be using it to fuel their disinterest in being in fellowship with the body.
It sounds like Hebrews where we are told to not forsake the gathering of the church.

And then somebody else earlier pointed out the importance of first John. He was very plain in his language in commanding us to show love to one another. Love in the Bible always seems to be action-oriented. It's very hard to love the church when we're not invested in it.
 
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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Boice once critiqued the general thought that if a man is a bad pastor, he gets a small church; if he is good, he gets a large church, and if he is absolutely exceptional, he teaches in a seminary. He thought instead that the church should be sending its best men into the church. The people of God are being destroyed from lack of knowledge. There might be one or two churches that are too intellectual, and too concerned about minutia of the Bible, with no concern about applying the text in their lives, but those churches are few and far between. The VAST majority of churches in the west don't even have biblical preaching at all. What needs to be recovered is the firm understanding of the Bible preached and taught properly (and if it is so preached and taught, it WILL be practical!). We need pastor-scholars. We need pastors who can rightly divide the Word of truth. Every pastor should be looking to improve his understanding of the Bible constantly. In a way, then, I think it is unhelpful to set the scholar over and against the pastor. The pastor should be quite learned in all things biblical, precisely to be able to explain things in a simple and clear way to all the congregants. It takes quite a level of scholarship to be able to do that without dumbing down the material.

As for Heiser, Jacob and I have tangled on him before. I do not trust Heiser. His methodology is unsound (especially when it comes to the intersection of biblical and systematic theology), and his arrogance places him over and against the church in particular, on interpretive issues. I do not agree with his main conclusions on the heavenly council.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Boice once critiqued the general thought that if a man is a bad pastor, he gets a small church; if he is good, he gets a large church, and if he is absolutely exceptional, he teaches in a seminary. He thought instead that the church should be sending its best men into the church. The people of God are being destroyed from lack of knowledge. There might be one or two churches that are too intellectual, and too concerned about minutia of the Bible, with no concern about applying the text in their lives, but those churches are few and far between. The VAST majority of churches in the west don't even have biblical preaching at all. What needs to be recovered is the firm understanding of the Bible preached and taught properly (and if it is so preached and taught, it WILL be practical!). We need pastor-scholars. We need pastors who can rightly divide the Word of truth. Every pastor should be looking to improve his understanding of the Bible constantly. In a way, then, I think it is unhelpful to set the scholar over and against the pastor. The pastor should be quite learned in all things biblical, precisely to be able to explain things in a simple and clear way to all the congregants. It takes quite a level of scholarship to be able to do that without dumbing down the material.

As for Heiser, Jacob and I have tangled on him before. I do not trust Heiser. His methodology is unsound (especially when it comes to the intersection of biblical and systematic theology), and his arrogance places him over and against the church in particular, on interpretive issues. I do not agree with his main conclusions on the heavenly council.

I actually agree with almost all of this. Very few churches are in danger of being too learned.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In my reading of Calvin's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:3, I came across this little gem in the footnotes.

“It is not enough for the ministers of the gospel to have devoured many books of learning, to be able to decide polemical questions in divinity, to convince gainsayers, to be doctors angelical, subtle or profound; to be mallei hereticorum — the hammer of heretics. Unless also they have the experimental works of God’s Spirit upon their own souls, they are not able to apply themselves to the hearts of others. Paul had not been able to comfort others, if the Lord had not practically acquainted him with heavenly consolations.” — Burgesse on 2 Corinthians 1:0
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
With regard to what Daniel just said, (quoting Calvin), here's a quote from Charnock: "A man may be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant."

(Alive and well in Cyprus, getting oriented and settled.)
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Steven and Daniel, while what you say is undoubtedly true, it seems to me that the danger in the church right now is far more in the realm of anti-intellectualism. The vast majority of people I have met and heard about in the church don't want any doctrine at all. They just want something to help them on Monday morning at 9 AM, or worse, something to "make them feel good." I would actually disagree with the Charnock quotation a little bit. If one defines theology correctly, a man cannot be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant, since a correct definition of theology includes spiritual, personal, saving knowledge. It seems to be in the Reformed spiritual DNA to warn the church constantly about arid intellectualism, when I hardly ever see that anywhere in the church. Are we warning the church against the things the church actually needs to be warned against?
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
Steven and Daniel, while what you say is undoubtedly true, it seems to me that the danger in the church right now is far more in the realm of anti-intellectualism. The vast majority of people I have met and heard about in the church don't want any doctrine at all. They just want something to help them on Monday morning at 9 AM, or worse, something to "make them feel good." I would actually disagree with the Charnock quotation a little bit. If one defines theology correctly, a man cannot be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant, since a correct definition of theology includes spiritual, personal, saving knowledge. It seems to be in the Reformed spiritual DNA to warn the church constantly about arid intellectualism, when I hardly ever see that anywhere in the church. Are we warning the church against the things the church actually needs to be warned against?
A few years ago I went through the phase of "can't we all just agree on the essentials and have freedom in doctrinal differences, while really just focusing on living out Christianity?" I quickly found that this was not satisfying at all. For the true Christian, understanding God and His Word are ingrained in our DNA and can't be separated from daily life. The hunger to know God with the mind is always there.
 

D.L. Arter

Puritan Board Freshman
A few years ago I went through the phase of "can't we all just agree on the essentials and have freedom in doctrinal differences, while really just focusing on living out Christianity?" I quickly found that this was not satisfying at all. For the true Christian, understanding God and His Word are ingrained in our DNA and can't be separated from daily life. The hunger to know God with the mind is always there.
That question of “why can’t we all just get along” is prevalent in almost every region that I’ve pastored in. The area that I’m currently in has such an ecumenical push amongst most of the churches that the majority of people in the community don’t understand the differences between denominations whatsoever (they essentially think the churches are all different flavors of the same thing).

I’ve come to realize that the push for ecumenism in our community is indicative of biblical illiteracy and complacency. They don’t know the truth and they don’t care to know the truth. That issue was exacerbated by several pastors that taught falsely for multiple generations.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Our charismatic friends would say, "Sometimes God shocks the head to reach the heart." To which JP Moreland responded, "Sometimes God shocks the heart to reach the head."

We can all say we need to be Spirit-filled and white hot. That's great and all. I don't know anyone outside of a few Outside the Camp types who would disagree. In any case, it's nearly impossible for someone who doesn't have access to another person's emotional state to even judge that. I know guys who would believe they were the most Spirit-filled and warmed-up devotionally who would sincerely give dry lectures as sermons. I used to be one.

In fact, the most "experimental" I ever felt was when I devoted myself to logical analysis in the study.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
We can all say we need to be Spirit-filled and white hot. That's great and all. I don't know anyone outside of a few Outside the Camp types who would disagree. In any case, it's nearly impossible for someone who doesn't have access to another person's emotional state to even judge that. I know guys who would believe they were the most Spirit-filled and warmed-up devotionally who would sincerely give dry lectures as sermons. I used to be one.

In fact, the most "experimental" I ever felt was when I devoted myself to logical analysis in the study.
A DVD series that has had a big impact on me is "Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Logic on Fire".
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Jacob's and Stephen's response reminds me strongly of C.S. Lewis's thoughts on the matter. From God in the Dock and Other Essays

“For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”​


It makes me wonder if Lewis thought the same thing about devotional thoughts as he did about joy.
 
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