Every pastor is called to be a theologian. The present day pastor has long forgotten this. In fact, the pastor as theologian comes as a surprise to many pastors today. What may now come as a surprise to many, in this post, I hope to lead a recovery, thus making it the norm once again.
First, the church of the living God is the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth (1 Tim. 3:15). But for the church to maintain its status in the world as “the Pillar and Foundation” of her pastors must “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that [they] may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9 ESV).
But what the pastor needs to know is that this task of instructing and rebuking is a theological task. And he must thus approve himself in the light of a 2 Timothy 2:15 text.
Second, the great theologians in church history were pastors. For example, Athanasius–who defended the church against the Arian heresy, who was instrumental in the framing of the Nicene Creed, and who bequeathed to us the Athanasian Creed and his marvelous work on the incarnation–was a pastor. We may also speak of St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Zwingli, John Calvin, the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards and countless others.
In his interaction with an essay by Gerard Hiestand on the very subject of the pastor-theologian, professor Michael F. Bird makes this acute and lamentable observation: “When theology moved out from the church to the academy, the result was that “the theological water level within the pastoral community … fell considerably.” But not only that, the church became theologically anemic and theology itself became ecclesially anemic” (more here).
In closing, what our local churches need are not church growth experts and consultants and fly by night pastors, who are only bent on pimping the church for their personal gain–quick road to fame and fortune.
No, what we need are pastors who will return to their post in full as pastor-theologians, desiring with earnestness and unyielding zeal the sacred marriage of pastor-theologian, and resolving to first prayerfully plump the depths of Scripture, not only in their study, but with their people as well, taking them deep into the depths of Scripture, to behold the God who is there. And after such a descent, both pastor and people will make that ascent in the highest praise, precisely because they have beheld God.