Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Clerical Role of "Answer Man"

An interesting quote here which raises interesting questions about theological education. For what it's worth, I certainly know quite a bit more than I did when I started my theology degree, but I don't think I'm much better at coming to an opinion on a new topic than I was as a "proper" layperson. So on topics I have studied at university, I think I'm better informed than I was, but that doesn't mean I was wrong or incapable of refuting bad theology before. On topics I haven't really studied much, I don't see why my opinion now is worth more than it was two years ago.

To perpetuate the clerical role of answer man, the layman when inside the church building must act as if he has only half a brain, while outside, in the world, he is expected to be an ambassador for Christ, a lay transmitter of faith. Outside, he is to be informed and vocal; inside, he must appear ignorant and mute as a sheep. Christians have within them many questions--questions that are at once elementary and profound, questions that would ripple the water were they raised. However, because a Christian is supposed to have "answers," life's important questions are not discussed outside the church building; and, because the pastor is the educated, spiritual authority, they are not discussed inside either.
Paul G. Johnson (b.1931), Buried Alive [1968]

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