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Devoted to Learning


This Brendan was the head of the belief and devotion of a great part of the world like faithful Abraham, a pre-eminently prophetic psalmist like David the Son of Jesse, a distinguished sage like Solomon the son of David, a lawgiver to hundreds like Moses the son of Amram, a prolific translator like Jerome, a wondrous thinker like Augustine; a great and eminently universal student like Origen...

  - Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD the God of Israel had given...For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

  - Ezra 7.6, 10

The leaders of the Celtic Christian movement - like Brendan (fl. 560 AD) - made a powerful impact for generations on those who came to Christ or were taught and sent into ministry by them. It is significant that their followers remembered them in comparison with great saints of Scripture and the Christian tradition. And it is significant as well that many of those great saints with whom the Celtic heroes were compared were men of scholarly accomplishments.

Pastors today are not typically compared with Augustine, Jerome, and Origen. They are not remembered for their prolific translations, clear thinking, or vast studies. What we like in pastors these days doesn't typically fall into those categories. But what if it did? What if Christians began to expect of and admire in their pastors that they were diligent students, well-read and steeped in the classics of the Christian tradition, and able to understand the philosophical drift, cultural issues, and moral concerns of the day with clear and penetrating Christian logic? Do you think this would make a difference in the churches?

I do. Ezra was effective in helping to renew the Jewish community following the captivity not because he was a great military leader, a charismatic preacher, or a skilled marketer of vision and programs. He was a scholar and a deeply spiritual man, and God looked to him to secure the new foundations of His reviving city and people. In our day, when we need revival so much, men of scholarship, piety, and ministry skill would fill a significant gap.

Do you encourage your pastor to be a good scholar? Do you give him the time to do so? And are you interested to hear what he has been reading and learning of late? Your pastor's vision for ministry and for your church will grow to fit the dimensions of his own worldview, and that worldview can be expanded and enriched by devotion to learning. Don't begrudge your pastor his time in the books. Urge him on to it.

Don't miss today's ReVision column: Of Rot and Salt - A door of opportunity for truth is opening to the Christian community. Will we be able to go through it?

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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