Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What Are Pastors Reading?

Through sleep-deprived eyes I read the results of George Barna's most recent survey while waiting to board my 6 AM flight yesterday. The survey asked pastors what three books, read over the last three years, had the most influence on them. I was thinking about blogging on the findings but will direct you to Tim Challies' thoughts on the matter [HT: Between Two Worlds]. Tim asks, "If pastors don't read theology, who does?" and makes the following disturbing observation:

It seems obvious that the trend away from theology begins at the leadership level and filters down through the church. If only 9% of pastors have been influenced by a theological book in the past three years, how much less the average layperson?

7 comments:

Peter Bogert said...

It's scary, isn't it.

ynottony said...

If these "leaders" are not spending time reading theology, how do they even know they are "leading" authentic churches? Perhaps they should ask themselves if they are even "leading" anything that is a church in the biblical sense. Quite frankly, I would rather sleep in on a Sunday morning than wake up early in order to listen to one of these so called "leaders" regurgitating the pap in popular "Christian" literature. What a scandal!

ynottony said...

After thinking about this, it seems to me that the leaders really are reading theology, but BAD theology and they don't know it. Their dichotomy gives them away. They are pietists overreacting to what they reckon to be dry or dead orthodoxy (what they are labeling 'theology'). They are not thinking about theology as William Ames thought of it. He said in his Marrow that "theology is the doctrine or teaching of living to God." What we need is a proper understanding of what theology is in the first place, and then a bringing together of the mind and affections in seeking to draw near to God as a community. Leaders in the church should be men who are living examples of the worth of studying theology. Instead, we have many "leaders" who are trying to conceive of the Christian life as something individualistic/ existential, experiential and emotional rather than mental in emphasis. It's just another example of how the "church" has become like the world, only with a vague "spirituality" about it, and the with mere shells of the Christian past.

KP said...

Tony, I had a similar thought. Church leaders are being influenced by the theological systems of the authors they're reading even if those beliefs are implicit. People often don't want to get bogged down in "theology," preferring to focus on methodology. Such an approach, however, fails to see how theology influences method.

I really like the Ames quote.

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