The Pastor as Theologian, 1: The Crisis

Written by Mark Farnham

On February 15, 2011

Preaching has fallen on hard times. I don’t mean in liberal churches. I mean in conservative, Bible-believing churches. With godly pastors. Who have seminary education. Who have simply stopped studying. Because it’s easier to coast.

This trend is not destroying churches outright, at least not many of them. But it is weakening believers. Weakening their love for the Scriptures. Weakening their faith in an increasingly pluralistic world. Weakening their children who hear feeble drivel in their youth groups, Bible classes and chapels, and as a result have little desire or respect for the Word.

So the situation is serious. And it starts at the top. If the preaching pastor does not love to read, study, and proclaim theology (aka sound doctrine), chances are his sermons are without substance, replaced by fury and sound, humor and stories, psychologizing and rhetoric. in other words, they probably fit the description of the type of preaching Paul refused to do in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Without a strong commitment to being a pastor-theologian, a pastor will merely be speaking every Sunday, not preaching. As one pastor said, “The church already has speakers. They’re usually on the wall behind the pulpit. What it needs is preachers!” True preaching must be theological, and this requires the pastor to be a theologian. If more pastors don’t return to this model, I fear for the church in the next decade.

In Part 2, we’ll look at the role of the pastor-theologian in revival.

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1 Comment

  1. Richard L. Lindberg

    I’ve sat under some preachers like that. It is why I left one church to go to another with good Biblical preaching. Giving up on theology is really a recent event as far as evangelicals go. I wonder if part of the problem could be that these pastors have not really studied systematics with a view to how theology undergirds preaching. Another reason may be that they have followed the advice to preach what people want to hear. Thanks be to God that seminaries like Westminster exist to teach good doctrinal preaching (especially how to preach Christ from all the Scriptures) and churches like the OPC where theological preaching can be heard on any given Sunday.



  1. What I Read Online – 02/16/2011 (a.m.) | Emeth Aletheia - [...] The Pastor as Theologian, 1: The Crisis | in partibus infidelium (in the land of infidels) [...]

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