The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry by John Piper and D.A. Carson (ed. Owen Strachan, David Mathis)
“with all your heart, and with all your mind”
On April 23, 2009 John Piper and D.A. Carson each gave a talk at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Those talks were then edited and expanded into this book, with an introduction by Owen Strachan and a post-script by David Mathis (of Desiring God).
This book was of particular interest to me: first, because of my own interests in both pastoral ministry and scholarship, and second, because of the example and impact of these two men in these areas. The book did not disappoint.
Piper’s chapter is largely biographical, and it is amazing to see how God took a young man who physically could not speak in front of people, and made him into one of the most useful preachers of our day. He really loves to take the weak things of the world to shame the strong, and to glorify His power in so doing. After the autobiography, he lays out “from the Scriptures that God’s purpose for right thinking (scholarship) is to awaken and sustain satisfaction in God that glorifies him,” (p. 52) and does so in nine points.
D.A. Carson’s talk starts with a 5 point introduction, with a 12 point body. He too tells some of his own story, from the chemistry lab to the pastorate, and how God then pulled him into scholarship. He retitles his portion “The Scholar as (Frustrated) Pastor.” After his autobiography, he lists his 12 “Lessons for the Scholar as Pastor.”
The strength of Piper’s chapter is in the telling of his story. The strength of Carson’s is in his 12 Lessons. On display here are two different men with different gifts that God has used greatly for His own purposes. What an example! Throughout, both men exalt Christ as supreme above scholarship, accolades, or anything else. They expose false dichotomies between “head” and “heart” and propose rigorous use of the mind in the care of souls, each according to his gifts.
If you have a chance, track down the audio to this event. The audio from Piper’s talk is bursting with energy that doesn’t come through in his chapter. There is also a Q/A session not represented in the book.
I recommend this book as an encouragement to love and serve Christ with “all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”