Spurgeon rightly warned his students, “Brethren, if you are not theologians you are in your pastorates just nothing at all” (Lectures to My Students, 74).
Well said, brother. Well said.
While I completely agree, I am compelled to revise these timeless words to include: “Brethren, if you are not theologians and missiologists you are in your pastorates just nothing at all.”
It is a sad (and troubling) matter that I dare add to these famous words of the Prince of Preachers. My addendum is a redundancy: great theologians should be great missiologists.
But given what I have observed over the years in the classroom, in the pulpit, among preachers and professors, the truth is: a person can be a “great” theologian and fail when it comes to the integration of the mission of God into his or her theology.
I once heard a theologian preach a message on the “One, Holy, Apostolic, Church” in which he focused on Apostolic. I eagerly awaited his exhortation and challenge related to our Great Commission task. However, I was extremely disappointed that he said little about taking the Apostles’ doctrine to the nations. How does one preach on the Apostolic Church and neglect the Great Commission? Even if one preaches the importance of Apostolic doctrine, how can he omit the practical application of that doctrine to global disciple making?
Over the course of a lifetime, a person can speak eloquently on the different theories of the atonement, a Greek diphthong, a Hebrew silent sheva, supralapsa-this or infralapsa-that, and everyone will be awed at such an amazing theological mind. . . while the 5 billion remain.
The claim is true: The way of the seminaries and Bible colleges today is the way of the churches later today. Conservative evangelicals rightly stand against theological neo-orthodoxy, liberalism, and postmodernism.
But this claim is also true about conservative evangelicalism. If the apostolic nature of the Trinity is neglected when the Word is taught in the systematic, counseling, preaching, history, and yes, missions (or intercultural studies) classrooms, then what have we taught?
Our theologians must be excellent missiologists and our missiologists must be excellent theologians. If not, the Church will have theologically skewed pastors. And sadly. . . She does. And few churches believe such is the case.