I’ve been reading a book by Christopher Hall titled, Reading Scripture With the Church Fathers. It comes highly recommended by me, so buy it and read it, although if you are a Dispy I suspect that you might not like it as much as I do, but you should still buy it and read it because it’s awesome.
Anyway, as I read this book, I was reminded of the high view of the Church that the Fathers had. Not only did they believe that you should not interpret Scripture outside of the fellowship of the Church, they also believed that the Scripture that you interpreted from within the fellowship of the Church should have the lay-person as it’s goal.
This isn’t to downplay the priesthood of the believer or anything like that. In fact, it is just the opposite. For the Fathers, everyone should read and study the Scriptures for themselves. But those who are in the teaching ministry of the Church, whether Pastor or Sunday School teacher, should have as the goal of their study the transmission of the truth of Scripture to the lay-person.
I find myself increasingly aware of many ‘scholars’ who do not have this aim. Their commentaries or theologies are written for the academic elite. And while I benefit greatly from them, I find myself drawn more and more to those who have spent their lives working among the lay-people of the Church.
For example, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul. These men think big thoughts, know the Scriptures and how to properly exegete them, but they also recognize that their job is to bring those big thoughts and proper exegesis to the guy who sits in the back of the church with only a sixth grade education and works at the car wash through the week. They recognize that their main responsibility is to equip that guy for a daily Christian walk and not to equip the ‘scholar’ with more scholarship so that he may become intellectually exalted in his field.
The point is that the Scriptures and Theology belong to the Church, and rightly taught they produce both worship to God and a life that is conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, Theology leads to doxology and orthodoxy to orthopraxy.