Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Good Reason for Getting a Ph.D.

Dane Ortlund, who is just finishing a Ph.D. in Biblical Theology at Wheaton College has a very nice post on "Stupid PhDs versus Wise PhDs." I love this quote: (HT Justin Taylor)
Another question to be mindful of is how a PhD might strengthen others, not only us. I'm hoping my dissertation gets published, for two reasons. One, I'm a self-loving sinner with unmortified infatuation with my own name. Two (more cheerily), my work exposes weaknesses in the theology of James Dunn and I would love to see fewer pastors and teachers buy Dunn's commentaries in light of my dissertation. I would be happy to help Dunn's stuff go out of print a bit sooner. Not because he's 180 degrees wrong on everything. Of course not. But because he's an influential writer who fuzzies what the gospel is, confusing essence and implication, vertical and horizontal, individual and corporate, the moral and the social. But that's another post.
This is great. The Church needs polemicists. Not jerks - polemicists. We can disagree politely and argue responsibly, but the academic convention of pretending that everyone is sort of right in order to maintain peace is unhealthy and does not really produce peace or mutual respect. Better to have the differences out in the open and let them be the focus.

By the way, many people are too young and socially and personally too immature to do doctoral work when they do it. It would be great for people to have some personal and theological maturity going in. It might help with the problem of pretending that we all agree as the only path to civility.

No comments: