Leading with Theology
At our recent Leaders’ Conference we launched a brand new resource from the FIEC Theological Team – Primer. Here our Theological Adviser David Shaw introduces it.
Paul describes the role of the church leader to Titus like this:
“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (1:9).”
With those words, Titus is charged with giving theological leadership to the church. And that’s vital for us to understand: at root, church leadership is about equipping people to understand and live in the light of what God is doing through his Son.
Equipping ourselves for that kind of ministry, and sustaining ourselves in it, takes thought and it takes time.
- It takes thought and time because “the trustworthy message” and “sound doctrine” are rich and profound. We can go ever deeper in our understanding of them and wonder at them.
- And it takes thought and time because pastors are called not just to reject opponents of the truth but to refute them, showing where and why they are wrong and all in a way that might win them back to the truth.
Thought and time. For that reason, we want to encourage church leaders to give thought and time to important theological issues. But we also want to save them time. It can be hard to know where to start – sometimes because there’s so much to read, sometimes because there’s so little. That’s why the theological team of the FIEC came up with the idea of Primer.
What is Primer?
In each issue of Primer we take one important area of theology and over the course of 80 pages or so we offer a kind of theological digest; summarising contemporary debate, highlighting the best resources, and always keeping the realities of ministry in view. We also want to help pastors draw on the riches of church history and so each issue reproduces a classic treatment of the doctrine being discussed. But we don’t leave it there. We go out and find scholars to scribble over them, explaining, applying; helping the past to shed light on the present.
As an example, let me talk you through the first issue on the doctrine of Scripture:
First, we look at ways in which the authority of the Bible is being challenged in the church. In particular we examine and think about how to respond to the idea that the human authorship of Scripture and its diversity somehow undermine its authority as God’s word.
Second, John Stevens discusses a recent book that debates the importance of the inerrancy of Scripture, showing how a careful use of the term preserves and celebrates something wonderful about the word God has spoken to us.
Then we have a fantastic section from a piece written by B. B. Warfield in 1901, which contemplates the human authorship of Scripture and marvels at God’s sovereignty which enables him to speak perfectly through the human authors he prepared for that task. To help us wrap our heads around that Fred Zaspel, the author of several books on Warfield, has provided an introduction and some notes to accompany the text.
After that, we turn to think more practically about how we defend and communicate the doctrine of Scripture. One article thinks about how to defend the moral authority of the Old Testament in the face of the destruction of the Canaanites in Joshua (a favourite example of many atheists). Another article suggests a way of helping unbelievers not only accept but even welcome the thought of an authoritative word from God. Finally, we hear from a pastor who recently preached a topical series on the Bible: it’s a chance to hear why he did that and to steal some good ideas…
There’s also a website with resources to help pastors discuss the issue with others. We hope Primer will be a helpful tool to provoke discussion with other pastors in fraternals. And we hope Primer will be useful in training others to think theologically about the life and mission of the church.
The second issue of Primer will look at the Doctrine of Sin and is due out in the spring.
Watch a short interview with David about Primer in the video below.