A Christian theologian I follow closely (I read his blog 5 days a week and I’ve read a good number of his books) is Scot McKnight.
Professor McKnight (North Park University, Chicago) is well-known on the internet with one of the top blogs on theology and the Bible. He is well-known precisely for the reason I am writing this post: Scot McKnight believes that scholars should serve the community and not just write to one another.
The idea that scholars should write academic treatises o each other and that this high-level research will eventually trickle down into communities of faith is something McKnight calls “trickle-down scholarship.”
On a speaking tour in South Africa, McKnight’s presentations are being followed and reported on by Thomas Smith, a South African pastor and student of theology, of the blog soulgardeners.com. Here is a piece by Smith explaining McKnight’s talk about trickle-down scholarship:
What I do want to highlight is a soapbox Scot went unto. He blasted the trickle down theory of education. According to Scot discoveries made in academia are not getting to people in churches because academics are not writing for the church. They only publish journal articles suited for their own guild.
This in my opinion is what makes Scot’s ministry so accessible and useful – he takes complex ideas and explains it to normal people.
Scot challenged the group to engage in scholarship to the church.
You can read the whole blog post here.
So, here is my point. Christian, Jewish, and Messianic Jewish communities need accessible scholarship. We need scholars who write not only for the academy, but for people who cannot take 4 to 8 years off from their income-producing work to learn the lingo, history, and themes of Biblical, historical, and theological scholarship.
There are a precious few who do this. And it is something I very much believe in. I plan to practice it myself as I develop myself in the field of Hebrew Bible studies. I plan to point to and draw attention to other scholars who make themselves accessible.
There is a gap in the Christian and Jewish communities between high-level scholarship and popular worship and congregation. Here’s to Professor McKnight for raising the bar and calling for some relief from trickle-down scholarship.
Want to check out Scot McKnight for yourself? Here are a few recommendations:
(1) Check out his blog on beliefnet: http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/
(2) If you buy just one McKnight book, get the Blue Parakeet, which is about how to interpret the Bible and offers some of the most sane advice I have ever heard.
(3) If you buy a second, get The Jesus Creed in which McKnight teaches Christians to adopt the Jewish custom of reciting the Shema as the tradition is expanded and modified by Jesus himself.
(4) Other great ones include A Community Called Atonement and Embracing Grace.