A Willingness to Cross Borders and Boundaries
Theology and biblical studies are fields of study formally practiced within institutional frameworks and disciplinary boundaries that tend to hedge off their wider collective impact from faith communities and the wider culture.
I propose that a “good” theologian/Bible scholar persistently resists those confines. “Theology” is a term that is met with reservation and even suspicion by many laypersons in faith communities that cherish these fields of study, but view them as commandeered by professional academics. Theology and biblical scholarship are often understood as stuffy, heady disciplines worked out behind the closed office doors of university faculty members. A widespread impression is that the proper domains of theology and biblical studies are university libraries, theological college classrooms, or esoteric conferences attended only by impressively educated specialists.
In the Christian theological tradition, the Incarnation of God in Christ is a central and evocative conviction. That mysterious event, however, suggests that theology cannot be confined to the safe domains of libraries, classrooms, or conferences because God himself has become flesh and wants to create a beautiful ruckus on the city avenues, in the country lanes, and in the pubs and gyms where everyday folks work, play, and live.
So “good” theologians and biblical scholars are willing to ply their craft in less academically conditioned contexts. They are embedded in other realms besides the library or those carefully manicured campus quads. If their subject matter is ever resisting the borders of the page, the classroom, and even heaven itself, then those of us who have taken on the mantle of rigorous study must be willing to puncture the walls, to voice an intelligible word in the marketplace.
~Andrew Byers, Director of the Free Church Track & Lecturer in NT, Cranmer Hall at St John’s College, Durham University