Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Pastoral Challenge

I can vividly remember being forced to memorize Shakespeare when I was a reprobate in High School. I know it is hard to believe, but not everyone actually enjoys Shakespeare, and some who say they do really don't understand Shakespeare anyway. We had to memorize a certain section of Macbeth, and I hated it. I hated it for the same reason that every other senior hated it. For one, none of us had the ambition to be a sissified actor. For another, we saw clearly that this had absolutely zero relevance in our redneck lives. I guess we should have been memorizing NASCAR stats.

Well, I was an ignorant high school student then. I thought culture meant wearing a Rebel flag doo-rag and listening to Hank Williams Jr. But, I was wrong. I simply did not see the importance of Shakespeare, or really of English class at all.

This is very similar to the difficulty of pastoring in our modern, easy-believe age. In the "Just Give Me Jesus" Church, people are irked when you mention things like "theology" and "doctrine." To go into deeper things is boring, and really it seems like a waste of time to the average evangelical.

I must confess, and my church members will attest to this, that words like "sanctification," "justification," "imputation," and "hypo-static union" make me dance with delight. In fact, if you are around me for more than twenty minutes and I haven't brought up predestination, election, justification, or the believer's guaranteed inheritance in Jesus Christ, then I'm having an off day. I will bust out a three syllable theological word on you in a heartbeat, and then force you to understand it. I love it with a glee that rivals my old high school English teacher's in forcing Shakespeare on us idiotic high school students.

The challenge for the Pastor is not to merely define theological terminology. The challenge for us is to make you understand why imputation is something to jump up and dance about. The challenge is for me to teach you the seriousness of not confusing justification and sanctification. The challenge is for me to show Christians why it is important for them to understand why it is important to understand that God chose you first and not vice versa. And, it is to make it clear why election is the driving hope of missions, not the deterrent it is often accused of.

Oh how I pray to God that I could demonstrate the mother load of joy that is hidden in that little word "propitiation!" I wish I could knock people's socks off with the ecstasy of 2 Corinthians 5:20-22! And I wish that I could convey what a cesspool of filth Open Theism is. Oh the loves and rages of the theologian! May God give all good pastors the eloquence to match their passions!

*Note to Mrs. Vassar, beloved High School English Teacher* Sorry I was a blockhead in High School. I would also point out that I have left several prepositions dangling at the end of sentences in this post. I know it's wrong, but I find it to be more readable. Correction of this sort, as our beloved Churchill said, "is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put." I kindly ask for you to overlook such ugly grammatical error.


ColinM said...

Great blog....
2 Cor 5:21-22, not 1 Cor, in case anyone wants to join in the excitement


Sojourner said...

Err....you are absolutely right. However, if 1 Corinthians 5:20-21 actually existed, I'd be excited about that too!

I have corrected my error. Thanks for the comment!

Ben D. said...

The task we have as pastor/teachers, as one of our teachers has written, is the "restatment of Biblical revelation in more or less precise language." God help us in this venture...

Anonymous said...

You should check out Raplog, a Christian blog by an English/drama teacher. http://www.raplog.blogspot.com/

Very thoughtful, and he uses some 3-sylable words.

Lynn S said...

Ah, Macbeth -- Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day...

My high school Shakespeare experience was very different from yours. We had to memorize the "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" thing and an overwhelming majority of the class had great fun with it. A few little parts of it even became part of our slang for a while.

I get your point. It seems like most people never want to look beneath the surface of things. They're "bored" without understanding even a tiny fraction of whatever it is they think is boring.

Sojourner said...

Ben D: All this time I don't hear from you? I didn't even know that you guys had a website! Looks good Bro!

Lynn S: Yes! Thank you for understanding. I'd like to think that I'm a tortured genius who no one understands, but the truth is that I'm an average guy who's had an encounter with genius and I'm trying to explain it.

Waterfall said...

Are you tellin' me that some high school kids aren't going to like MacBeth? Say it ain't so! :)

Reading Lynn's comment, I was reminded that some of the Shakespeare lines became part of our slang in high school, too. I specifically remember something like, "Dost thou bite thy thumb at me?" from Romeo and Juliet.

Sigh. English is so much fun.