I read an article while on vacation on the Building Church Leaders website called; “The Pastor as ‘Organic Intellectual’” While the term organic is highly misused in our culture, I had never seen the words “organic” and “intellectual” used together. This is my 3rd blog on this topic.

Theologian David Wells points out that historically church leaders were scholar-saints, pastors who were “as comfortable with books and learning as with the aches of the soul.” He continues to say reading books and all kinds of media–not only of theology but also of fiction–ought to be part of every pastor’s plan of action for staying out ahead of the flock.

Organic -theologian-pastors do not need to be the smartest people in the room–but then again, neither did the apostles. When Peter and John were arrested for preaching the gospel and dragged before the Sanhedrin, they had to do some impromptu–or rather inspired–public speaking: “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:11-12).

When the high priests, elders, and scribes – all highly trained in rabbinic schools–saw the “boldness” of Peter and John, they were astonished, for “they perceived that they were uneducated, common men” (Acts 4:13).

Peter and John were not geniuses but apostles: they knew something that the Sanhedrin did not know (“He is risen!”) and they knew it not because they were clever but because they had learned something that astonished the Jewish leaders, but they had not learned it at school.

Luke tells us that the Jewish leaders recognized that Peter and John “had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)–an understated way of acknowledging their educational qualifications.

Pastor theologians know something others do not, and they know because the Bible tells them so. To be instructed by the Spirit in the school of the Scriptures is to be, as Peter and John had been, “with Jesus.” What pastor-theologians know is something quite particular (what God was doing in Christ) but has enormous, even universal, implications.

The organic intellectual resembles not the fox, who knows many things, but rather the proverbial hedgehog, who knows one big thing: in this case, what God is doing to create a people for his treasured possession (Ex. 19:5; Dt. 7:6; 14:2; 26:8; Mal. 3:17; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Pastor-theologians are generalists, yet with a difference: they give voice to the meaning of the life hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3). Pastor-theologians know something particular and definite, but strictly speaking, it is not “specialized” knowledge.

The pastor theologian is a special kind of generalist: a generalist who specializes in viewing all of life as relating to God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Better: the pastor-theologian is an organic intellectual who is present as the mind of Christ, which animates the body of Christ.

Pray for me to function as an “organic-theologian-pastor for VCF.