Calvin on Scholarship and Ministry

"None will ever be a good minister of the word of God, unless he is first of all a scholar." -- John Calvin

From a sermon on Deuteronomy 5.23-7, as quoted in Ronald Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament, 120.


Anonymous said…
The problem "in context" is that we have a lot of ministers i.e. "administrators" who are not scholars. Exegesis for them rests more on culture hermeneutics than theology; at least the theology that Calvin was doing in Geneva. (That is not to say that Calvin was unaware of his context.) Scholarship should be aware of her/his context, but not blinded by it. Administrators, "ministers" have an obligation to take theology more seriously than what their community wants. It could be that what the community needs is a minister that thinks and takes theology more seriously than their communal programs.

Andrew Hagee.
Anonymous said…
So again, where does the synthesis lie between, "dogmatic theology" and "pratical theology"? What must we do to allow the "dailectic" to unfold? That is to say, how do we allow the dialectic to become an actualized real reality?

For myself - and I admit to being unsophisticated on these matters - the relation between dogmatic theology and practical theology is analogous to that found in the New Testament between faith and works.
The faith-works binary might work as an analogy if it's properly understood. Specifically, if we take the Gal. 5:6 passage as normative: "faith working through love." Faith and love (i.e., works) coincide as a single event, dialectically structured. There is a paradoxical identity of faith and love: faith takes place in and through love (of God and neighbor), and love takes place only as an act of faith. It's not as if there is faith first, and only later does love appear as a consequence. We could also use the relation between faith and witness/proclamation as an equivalent analogy.

Understood this way, the relation of dogmatic and practical theology becomes clear. Dogmatic explication coincides always with practical interpretation. When we encounter the Word of God, dogmatic theology and practical theology are the dialectical offspring. The former, we might say, concerns the relation between humanity and God, while the latter concerns the relation between human and human. The "vertical" and the "horizontal," our being and our act, are inseparable and dialectically identical.

Something along those lines is how I would want to construe the dogmatic-practical relationship. And so I agree with Travis about the faith-works ordering, so long as it's rightly understood.

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