By Andrew Faris
I recently heard that Dr. Henry Holloman, a Talbot systematic theology prof, has memorized most, if not all of the Bible.
Most of us would at least pay lip service to the impressiveness of that accomplishment. But how much clout does that give him in the minds of we who study theology on even a partially academic level?
Having been at least somewhat in the academic theology world for the last 6+ years now, it troubles me that this doesn't make more students flock to sit at Dr. Holloman's theological feet. Insofar as systematic theology's chief end is to increase our knowledge and love of God (and make no mistake- our academic accomplishments do not matter at all if this is not our end) and insofar as its content is what the whole Bible says about, well, everything, then why don't we respect (not just admire) this kind of knowledge more?
Memorizing the Bible isn't as sexy as all of the academic nuance of, say, Barth's approach to Scripture (the sexiest current theological discussion?). But if I understand Ps. 1 and Ps. 119 correctly, then what we really need is meditation on the text- the kind that gets it into our heads, hearts and souls. That's the kind of theology we should care about most.
Don't get me wrong: I love the academic theology world. My entrance into it under the supervision of profs who went through all of it changed my life. But the ones who seem to be doing the most for the church and for the kingdom and the ones who seem to have the most vital spiritual lives and who spend a lot of time with the text (and with their students and churches). I find no Biblical command that says, "Do nuanced theology." I see a lot that say things like, "On His Law I will meditate day and night" and "I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
And if we can't understand what those passages are saying, then we're definitely not good theologians.