Ministry & Learning by S. M. Hutchens

Ministry & Learning

While attending graduate school in Chicago I took several classes at McCormick Theological Seminary. One was a very fine course of lectures under the church historian Thomas A. Schaefer, a Jonathan Edwards scholar. I was struck that I was struck by an offhand remark he made: "Presbyterians have always valued a learned ministry." What impressed me at that moment was the strong realization that I was part of a tradition that did not. It is not that I had no awareness of this before, only that Prof. Schaefer's remark all of a sudden brought it starkly home. My free-church revivalist tradition was not, as some are, actively suspicious of learning, but neither did it value it as the Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches have. That essentially theological, confessional, churchly sort of learning was optional as a qualification for the pastorate, even where seminary degrees were favored, and had little force whenever it became poised against the prophetic word.

Opposition Between Priestly & Prophetic Elements

One of the dangers of learned ministry is its tendency to institutionalize and professionalize, and so insulate itself from the energies carried in the prophetic charism, preserving itself behind a vision of the Church that does not represent a whole including both elements. I agree with those who observe that in the sphere of orthodox faith at least from the Mosaic age forward, it is doubtless God himself who has maintained true religion in the perennial opposition of its priestly and prophetic elements, one continually establishing and stabilizing in recognizance of the Church as the immovable ground and pillar of Truth, the other critical, and at odds with the imperfections of an establishment that can only in this world be a partial image of what exists fully only in the world to come.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor and longtime writer for Touchstone.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more from the online archives

28.5—Sept/Oct 2015

Who's Your Teacher?

on Our Sacred Duty to Teach the Devil to Death by Marcus Johnson

19.10—December 2006

Workers of Another World United

A Personal Commemoration of Poland’s Solidarity 25 Years Later by John Harmon McElroy

25.3—May/Jun 2012

The Soul of Liberty

Calls for Freedom, Democracy & Secularism End Up with None of the Above by Hunter Baker

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00