restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


We Need Pastor-Theologians

Garet Robinson

I was immensely distressed yesterday. I received a phone call from a dear brother whom I have known for six plus years now. We were roommates at Liberty University and I consider him one of my closest and best friends. We both are pursuing the equipping phase of our particular callings, though at different seminaries, and are constantly in touch.

Today he called me up and during the course of our conversation he told me that he no longer felt the leading by God to take biblical language classes (i.e., Greek and Hebrew) as a part of his Masters of Divinity degree since his particular seminary offers a degree track that will allow him to graduate without these languages. One of his reasons was that most “successful pastors” he knows don’t use the original languages at all. Then he asked me what I thought.

Now after I had counted to ten, I replied to his query. I began with the intention of taking a touchy subject matter and exhaustively replying to him and answering his question beyond the limits of what he expected. Then I decided to simply tell him I was disappointed in him. He asked me why I was disappointed in him. I replied that as a part of every pastor’s calling is the calling to be equipped to serve faithfully and fully for their local or even national congregation. A part of every pastor’s calling is to be equipped to be the best at shepherding the flock.

Now without getting into the details of why I believe all pastors need to be functional in the languages, I believe it is wholesale thievery to attend a seminary supported by giving Christians and leave without ever engaging the basics of what comprises our Bibles. (Of course I don’t for a second suggest that all theological inquiry should be done with the languages, nor do I suggest that by knowing the languages it will solve all your hermeneutical problems. The languages are the tools we have to work with.)

During our lengthy conversation, it occurred to me that he is simply repeating the line that is often given in our churches by many of our pulpiteers. We have detached the difficult, yet rewarding, study of the original languages from our “biblical sermons” in favor of some sweet sounding pop-culture psychology devoid of theological insight. We have preachers throughout this great land of ours who champion good thoughts and keen Christian insights that are in no way applicable to the texts they are working within. Most of our pulpiteers have lost the ability to expound faithfully from the infallible text we hold so dear, and instead rely on the words and thoughts of various fallible commentators and translation committee members to get their fodder.

A great pox of pseudo-biblical preaching has descended upon us based on the sacred cow of passé biblical authority. When our preachers go lax our congregants are spoon-fed soft mush instead of growing strong on the rich, lean theological insights readily available in our texts. Our churches have begun to settle for a yuppie cool, theological vacant, and intellectually lax pastorate who can drip sweet ear candy into their ears and let them leave the pews and padded-chairs without engaging their brains. The once thunderous chorus of theologically rich, biblically founded insights on life and Christianity have been replaced by the wimpy strains of pop-culturesque, theologically shallow quips of hypermodernism. We have gone from trumpeting the stanzas of premier pulpit exegesis to muttering the tunes of pompous topical sermon tripe.

Oh how our congregants will long for the days of old where the Bible was truly exposited and the rich depths of the faith mined by a capable preacher-theologian. Our churches deserve our best and greatest sacrifices for their edification. We fail them even before our ordinations by selling ourselves short of the calling to completeness which Christ commends us all towards.

We need a rebirth of the pastor-theologian.

We need an army of men occupying the pulpits and parishes of our land who can look deep and discover the treasure troves of spirituality lightly locked away behind the languages of the Word which we hold so dear. We need pastor-theologians who can easily speak to the sublime points of ecclesiology and Christology while still making the text applicable for the toddler bouncing on his knee. We need pastor-theologians who have the educational prowess to lead their people to such great heights that converts will come simply for the rewards available from growing in God. We need pastor-theologians equipped and ready to take our congregants to the next level and engage the rich heritage and great plethora of biblical resources that have never before been available to Christianity.

September 16, 2004

Garet Robinson is currently in his final semester at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary working on his Masters of Divinity degree (Advanced Track). He did his undergraduate work at Liberty University. He hopes to work in teaching, administration, and associate pastor roles within a local Southern Baptist church. He was saved at the age of six and was brought up in a wonderful Christian home. He may be contacted at his blog or at

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