The value of the academic

I was reminded today that the work of an academic should not be out of touch with reality. A friend of mine believes that academics are out of touch with reality. On the one hand I agree that academics should not be out of touch with reality and on the other I disagree as there have been significant influences and strides in the world because of academics. Yes, while we have to research new frontiers and interact with often lofty ideas, these new frontiers and ideas have to have real-life value and application, otherwise it is of little or no use to the public. After all, academics are meant to engage with these ideas and frontiers in order to better the plight of the public.

The area of my interest and research is theology. Well, practical theology, to be precise. Theology should really be the study of God’s interactions with people in order that people may discover God and meaning in their daily lives. Theology is one of the disciplines that is probably undermined more than any other discipline today probably because the world seems to become more and more secular with no need to understand why theology is needed. Often times it is argued that theology is the study of fairy-tales and folklore and only the unenlightened believe what we do. Often times it is said that much of the hatred and violence in the world today, or even in history, is because of and based upon religious beliefs and Christianity is not without guilt. I think because of all these reasons and many others, there is a need for theology today.

I am therefore glad that my friend that reminded me of the role of academics. If we are to merely do “research” especially in theology then of what value are we? More than ever today, there is a need and an important function for theology today. Not only to point people to God, but to be a voice amidst the moral decline that is so evident everywhere across the world, and to be a voice that is asking all the tough questions that is often not allowed to be asked in many churches. If not theology, then what? If not the academic, then who?

Ps. And NO, I don’t teach because I can’t do. Everyone has their calling in life. What is yours?

Theological Training? Are You Kidding Me?

Okay, so after the last post, let’s talk a bit about theological training. Now, I know this can be a hot potato with many people because the thinking goes somewhere along these lines,

“God called me to minister not to study”
“Theological study kills the spirit”
“God just looks for volunteers”
“why should we study to minister the Word of God”
“There is no room for professionalism in the church”

and I’m sure this list can go on and on…

So, why theological studies? Are we trying to promote an elitist clergy who alone has access to God and His Word? Does studying about God kill your passion for God? I’m not even sure I would want to defend this, but lets just say that when we want to be a pilot, we study. When we want to be an engineer, we study. When we want to be a school teacher, we study. When we want to be anything in life, we study. Why? Because we believe that in order to excel in any area of vocation we require a certain skill for proper execution and application, yet when it comes to administering the Word of God and ministering to his people, we feel that it doesn’t require us to sharpen our skill for proper execution and application.

Sure, Sure, you don’t need to study to tell people about God, but that is not the point here. Go look around and see how many churches, communities and people’s lives have been destroyed or derailed by people parading around as ministers who are not skilled and qualified for proper ministry. Does that mean that when you have studied you won’t mess up? Of course not, because we still find pilots crashing planes, engineers failing in designs, teachers not cutting the grade (no pun intended), so why do we expect ministers to be any different? Is there a different expectation on ministers? If there is then why lower the standard?