A Good Waste of Time

I’m currently reading up Gary A. Anderson’s “Sin: A History” and just finished chapter 1 and in the process of working on chapter 2. All I can say at this point is the magnitude and depth of his study concerning “sin.” At the moment I can’t make any provocative debate or needful critique of his work since I’m not a proficient reader of the original Hebrew text which comes on as a down side for me. I just have to follow through his arguments and see what I can get from his thoughts and study concerning the subject matter. I believe what Anderson is trying to make me see is that there is a great need to know the original text and with that to better understand what is at stake. (It’s a brilliant book by the way!)

I was having a good conversation with my dad yesterday about a recent speaker he heard during easter. He was a convincing speaker and with an “in your face” style that simply matches an exterior matching great charisma. But I’m dismayed that this speaker said that getting biblical training was of no use because the days are nearing their end. Because of that, the needles wrestling with studies are somewhat hindering progress in “winning people for Christ.” Because of that comment, I guess I’m simply wasting my time doing theological studies. A big note of thanks to that.

But what does me reading Anderson’s book have to do with what this speaker is saying? Well let me disrobe the suspense for you. I think this speaker means well in what he said. I’m simply thinking objectively here. Sometimes the tough an rigorous task of studies do sometimes dampen motivation to “win people.” Some students get burnt out from their task as students. Some fall away from faith (e.g. Bart Ehrman). Some simply lose focus.

But, that does not make biblical training as wasting time. Paul, after his vision of Jesus on the way of persecuting them spent 14 years “wasting his time” and not doing anything significant and look what that lead to. Jesus for that matter only started to make significant work in his thirties and he also was guilt of “wasting time.” Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness before God told him to back to Egypt again and get on with the Exodus. I think Moses was even more guilt than Jesus and Paul.

Anyways, studies and the need for evangelism go hand in hand. If everyone would jump into the bandwagon of not getting biblical training, no one would be properly taught. We say we love the bible and yet we say getting biblical training and learning the original text is a waste of time. We should condemn scholars who worked and sacrificed their livelihood giving us the original text in translation that we understand now.

And without proper studies we might even miss important teaching aids that can broaden our thoughts on what the bible wants to tell us. I don’t see that there should be a chasm between the need to evangelize and to get formal training, even how dry studies may be. After all, the main reason for getting proper studies is for the reason to give light to what we know as the word of God. Are we just called to evangelize? Or are we called to disciple? I think to disciple is a better designation of what we are supposed to do as followers of Jesus. That is to teach disciples everything that the Lord had taught his disciples.

The need does not have to downplay the part of prolonged studies. They should compliment each other. The task is wide and we need the depth of studies to plummet the depths of the biblical text. Without proper knowledge how can we expect to know God’s will? Left with just passion, we are simply being blind guides to those we think we are calling in to the kingdom. At best we are just the best expression of blind guides, the blind leading the blind.

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