We need great scholars—but a thousandfold greater need is a multitude of preachers, not professors

“We need great scholars—but a thousandfold greater need is a multitude of preachers, not professors. Preachers who know the English Bible, and who scorn not simple folk—who know how to get down off the theological and scholastic stilts, and preach with heart-power to plain people, a simple, old-time gospel.”—–B.H. Carroll, “Opening Address” (1905)

These words resonated with me and hit me hard. I started seminary school late unlike most of my classmates. Thank God I have developed a passion in studying theology, especially those I enjoyed tremendously like Pauline Theology, History of Christianity I & II, Intro Pastoral and Reformed theology, Christology etc., p/s definitely not Hebrew and Greek sorry. And during the course of my 5+ years now in Seminary, having done 80 credit hours, some of my classmates have already graduated with MABS (MA Biblical Studies, 66 credit hours) in NYC, while I stuck out my neck for my love of theology and practical/applied ministry, dived into hybrid MDiv Orlando RTS. RTS is one of the few seminaries in the country that insists on 100+ credit hours for MDiv. I have to salute RTS for that for making a standard of what Dr Ligon Duncan said “Pastors need more theology, not less.”I certainly pray, and hope that this extra of 40 credit hours to get to MDiv from MABS will bear much better and more fruit in the ministry that follows.

Southwestern Baptist Theological seminary, or Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, requires 88 credit hours to get an MDiv. Go figure. In RTS, I will still need a whopping 26 credit hours (on top of my 80 hours) to get my MDiv. And coming from a background of church planting in Malaysia and schooling in the UK, and now working and studying pastorally in the US, I constantly try to find a place where I can land my feet and my ministry. Sometimes I look with envy the professors with the PhD’s lecturing and teaching without the pastoral concern.  That’s why this line is powerful and encouraging to me.

“We need great scholars—but a thousandfold greater need is a multitude of preachers, not professors

We need scholars, 1000 greater need for a multitude of preachers not professors according to Dr BH Carroll. He’s saying that we need a multitude more preachers who know how to get down off the theological and scholastic stilts, and preach with heart power to plain people a simple old gospel. Now it is good to hear that, what he saying is that we need theologically and scholastically trained pastors to preach the gospel message with heart power of the Holy Spirit obviously. He is not saying that you don’t need theology to be a preacher of the word of God, because he said “Get off your theology stilts so that you can come down to the real world and preach to the real world, people without theological jargons and thinking at the high level. What he is saying is not to fail to carry the theological words package into the real world, in other words to be able to intersect theology with real life or everyday life today. On the other hand there are many pastors and preachers today are not theologically trained, but with just good heart to preach the gospel and make disciples. While in the reformed world in particular we have a lot of training of credit hours upon credit hours of theological training, however many still stay with the stilts of theology and not coming down to the real world. That’s what BH Carroll said.

We ought to preach with heart passion in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit

I’m so encouraged that we need both, we need theology and also translate that to everyday life. But not only the ability to translate to the everyday life, but also be able to preach with good heart to preach the gospel and make disciples.

I certainly want to add to what he said, indeed we ought to preach with heart passion in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. You know well trained theology does not necessarily translate to well passionate heartfelt preaching. That’s where the heart passion that’s only ignited by the Holy Spirit will do the job. However to get that heart ignition by the Holy Spirit, we need that theology and the reflection of the word of God in our hearts and souls so that this can be translated into heart passion preaching.

You have seen sometimes how well trained students preaching, you can see how their sermons are well arranged, chronologically arranged, theologically sound, however it just sounds a little rigid and a lack of life. Coming from a charismatic church planting movement background myself without much theological training albeit planted a few churches, preaching with the hot passion of the power of the Holy Spirit is everything we want from the Holy Spirit.

I do sense that the Baptist seems to have a greater passion to reach the lost and make disciples, with a more evangelical outlook, compared to many churches in the Reformed world. I I’ve seen so many great books and articles written in the Gospel coalition, the First Thing, that were mostly written by pastors and scholars related to reformed theological training especially those from the Baptist and southwest Baptist theological seminaries and some from Reformed theological seminaries, however that passion to reach the lost is not tangibly felt in the like of exhorting the congregation and audience to be soul winners passionately.

The sermon by Dr Malcom Yarnell III of SWBT on the founders day in SWB TS just a couple of days ago carries that unction of the passion of soul winning  Baptist is clearly palpable.

He’s preaching for nothing less than revival in the Founders day called “Soul winning Evangelical Baptists.” The passion that came forth from a professor with such Christ centered theology solidly backing him up is astonishingly refreshing. He captured some of the keywords that I loved my ministry like Spirit filled, Christ centered, revivalist passion outreach.

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