Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Brothers We Are Not Professionals

In my Pastoral Ministry class we just discussed John Piper’s, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry . This is a very useful book, and I recommend it highly. I previously wrote a brief review for The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology which can be viewed here. In this post though, I want to point out specifically the essay, “Brothers, Bitzer Was a Banker.” By special permission of the publisher, you can find this essay in its entirety on the website of Union University’s Ryan Center for Biblical Studies. Here is the link to the essay.

This is one of the best statements I have read on the value of biblical languages for the pastorate. In more recent years we have relegated the biblical languages to something useful only for professors. Such was not always the opinion. Note these quotes from the essay, often Piper quoting great leaders of the past.

“Yet what is more important and more deeply practical for the pastoral office than advancing in Greek and Hebrew exegesis by which we mine God’s treasures?” (85)

“And why do seminaries not offer incentives and degrees to help pastors maintain the most important pastoral skill – exegesis of the original meaning of Scripture?” (85)

“I know studies much, about 12 hours a day, chiefly Hebrew . . . [and] committed portions of the Hebrew Old Testament to memory; and this I did with prayer, often falling on my knees. . . . I looked up to the Lord even whilst turning over the leaves of my Hebrew dictionary.” (86 – quoting George Mueller)

“Though weak, I often spent two hours in my evening retirements and prayer over my Greek Testament, and Bishop Hall’s most excellent Contemplations, every hour that my health would permit.” (86 – quoting George Whitfield)

“Luther said, ‘If the languages had not made me positive as to the true meaning of the word, I might have still remained a chained monk, engaged in quietly preaching Romish errors in the obscurity of a cloister; the pope, the sophists, and their anti-Christian empire would have remained unshaken.” (86)

“The original Scriptures well deserve your pains, and will richly repay them.” (87 – quoting John Newton)

“You must not think that I have attained, or ever aimed at, a critical skill in any of these: . . . In the Hebrew, I can read the Historical Books and Psalms with tolerable ease; but, in the Prophetical and difficult parts, I am frequently obliged to have recourse to lexicons, etc. However, I know so much as to be able, with such helps as are at hand, to judge for myself the meaning of any passage I have occasion to consult.” (88 – quoting John Newton)
Read, be challenged, and labor to be found faithful.

2 comments:

slmayes said...

Ray,

I continue to rejoice at your selection of texts for your ministry classes at Union. Piper's book is an excellent corrective to much of the modern ministry mindset today.

Gordon Cloud said...

I have read this book as well as the one on preaching you reviewed in your last post. Both of them had a profound impact on my ministry. I am glad that you are investing them in the minds of young ministers.