David Clark, from his fantastic book on theological method. As a younger man at the front end of my life, thinking about goals and trajectories, the academy and the church, this was a very thought provoking quote. I wonder what ‘community-based scholarship’ looks like in practice. It also reminded me of this post and my follow-up on academia, amateurism, and envy.
It seems obvious that theology should access the personal and communal experience of many Christian believers. This means that actually retrieving the unity of theology is the work of the entire corps of evangelical scholars, pastors, and believers, not just of individuals. Vestiges of modernist academic values–the individual scholar, free of external constraint from bishops and creeds, protected by academic freedom and tenure, objectively viewing some small range of data–remain in evangelical academic contexts. But this model will not serve the church well. Actually achieving a unity of the theological disciplines requires a humble recognition of the various gifts within the body of Christ. No one person can read everything; no one person has all the best thoughts or insights; no one person has all the revealing experiences. When Christians with varied gifts and different areas of competence genuinely listen to each other in dialogue, their respective horizons can be pushed back and their perspectives unified. A community-based model of scholarship may require that those in the evangelical academy temper their individual quests for (academic) fame and fortune and modify their own career goals for the Kingdom’s good.
To Know and Love God p. 191