Theology, The Modern Persuit & Mission Statements

Now I’m sure that I am comparing apples to oranges, but I take these two contrasting facts to be symbols of health in the Body of Christ. And a good reason to constantly remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing (i.e. have a vision/mission statement).

This guy has sold over 40 million copies of this book. Large numbers of people must have found it meaningful. I hope you have read it. From a Theology perspective it is a good representation of Reformed thinking. That is OK, they are part of the Body of Christ too. In the 500th year of Calvin, they get the benefit of the doubt.

This is the page of the annoncements for the Templeton Awards for Theological Promise for 2008. This prize is given to the best younger academics in Theology. The linked site gives a summary of the work the prize was awarded for and a statement of continuing work. Not having read the works this is grossly unfair, but from the summaries, of the 12 maybe 3.5 would be readable. That statement comes from reading too many abstracts and then reading at least parts of the publication produced by modern theological scholarship. Scholars by their nature are writing for a small audience, but modern scholarship has specialized and segmented itself out of any meaningful relations with the larger audience who might find the research meaningful. If Christ were not its head, you could say that the thinking parts of the Body of Christ have said to the rest of the Body we don’t need you. Paul had something to say about that.

What I wonder is how much of this work is funded through the auspices of churches? How many of these 12 received substantial support from congregations or confessional polities? If not for their current work, how much previous work was supported with the assumption of producing laborors for the fields?

Two quick points. I am hopeful for three reasons: 1) There are ~3 of the 12 that do sound meaningful. Not enough, but not completely empty as I might have feared. 2) People still find meaning is Theology even if the academy doesn’t produce it. Theology still has the ability to speak to people (i.e. Warren).

The third reason is something that we as a member congregation of the LCMS can be proud of.

Concordia Seminary serves church and world by providing theological education and leadership centered in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ for the formation of pastors, missionaries, and leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

That is the mission statement of Concordia Seminary – St. Louis. It does good work. I imagine most of the scholars working there have taken career lumps because of it, especially if you compare their work to the work that receives the awards. The difference has something to do with that mission statement. Being purpose driven is a good thing, especially when “centered in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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