Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pick a Doctrine of Perennial Importance: Advice from Fred Sanders

Here are some great words of advice from Dr. Fred Sanders that I wish someone had told me my first year of ministry and theological training.

Dr. Marc Cortez of Everyday Theology agrees and elaborated on his website. He begins his article with the following:
Studying theology can be rather daunting given the depth and complexity of topics, the wealth of literature, and the many disparate opinions. Where do you start?

In this short video clip, Fred Sanders offers two pieces of great advice to his theology students. But it’s advice that I think would benefit anyone wanting to study theology more effectively.
  1. Pick a major doctrine to focus on.
  2. Master a classic text.
As he says, the “major doctrines of perennial importance” are daunting in their significance and the wealth of material devoted to them, but they’ll certainly stretch and challenge you. And every major doctrine connects in important ways with all the other ones as well. So having a specific doctrinal locus provides a nice focus for your studies while also giving an entry point into systematic theology as a whole.
When I began my theological and ministry studies, I found myself sampling everything - from biblical archeology to Greek to eschatology to philosophy to preaching to Martin Luther. In many ways I am still like that. It was not until I was finishing my Masters that I decided to narrow my focus, but by then I was almost done with my degrees.

Nonetheless, I think the above advice is wise and would recommend any new student to heed it. Pick a doctrine of perennial importance and become an expert on it and don't neglect the classics in your study.
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