“If I were God, I would have let that one slide.” Dr. Rollston.
Fortunately, Rollston is not God! I’m quite happy that he is not God because conversations with Rollston as God would go something like this:
G:”Nice job on obeying the 10 Commandments today, Todd (yes, everyone still calls me by my last name…but it’s fine…I’m OK with that…really)
M:”Thank you, God. I pray you give me the strength to get through tomorrow, too.”
G:”Yes, you’re going to need it. Everyone else did really well obeying my commands today, so tomorrow, my will is going to be even tougher. You’re going to need to read my mind to discover what I’m thinking about. After all, I can only allow a certain amount of people be successful in following me. Study up on everything…you’re going to need it!”
The following day…
G:”Hey, so did you guys like how I made the 10 Commandments the 77 Commandments? It’s a good biblical number, after all.”
G:chuckling, “I’ll take that as a no.”
Fortunately, my salvation does not rest on the whims of a professor, but on the mercy of a loving Father who willingly gave up His Son for my sins! Thanks be to God!
On a related note, the premise of the Old Testament Intro. is to expose us to the methodology of biblical scholarship. Theoretically, there is no room for theology in the class, even though the professor brings up theology on a daily basis, especially now that we’re at the end of the year. If you ask him a theology question in class that is either too difficult for him or he doesn’t want to deal with, he’ll deflect it by saying, “I’m not a theologian. I’m a biblical scholar.”
Isn’t biblical scholarship supposed to help us become better theologians? Isn’t the idea of the “higher criticisms” to expose the meaning of the text so we can bring that to bear in our lives and understanding of God? What is that if it isn’t theology? And if one cannot be both a theologian and a biblical scholar, why even bother with the scholarship? Why does there have to be a division between the two? I don’t think he really believes there is a division, because we discuss theology all the time. Is it systematic theology? No. But our understanding of Scripture and of the nature of God is influenced by this process. It influences our theology. There must be a better way to deal with the separate issues without saying, “I’m a scholar, not a theologian.”
I do appreciate, however, the continual efforts to show how we can use the things we’ve learned in the real world of ministering to people. I like the struggle and tension that is created – it shows that we cannot have all of the answers, and we need to find a way to be OK with that. There are great examples in the OT of people dealing with disasters and tragedy that can be applied to my life and the lives to those I minister. I think the realm of biblical scholarship helps flesh that out more. Scholarship, however, is not the end of the matter when it comes to the Christian life. It is only the beginning.