Saturday, October 07, 2006

F.F. Bruce on Faith and Academia

Here's a classic quote from F.F. Bruce:

I am sometimes asked if I am aware of a tension between my academic study of the Bible and my approach to the Bible in personal or church life. I am bound to say that I am aware of no such tension. Throughout my career as a university teacher I have also discharged a teaching ministry in my local church and occasionally in other churches. Naturally, when I discharge a teaching ministry in church I avoid the technicalities of academic discourse and I apply the message of Scripture in a more practical way. But there is no conflict between my critical or exegetical activity in a university context and my Bible exposition in church; the former makes a substantial contribution to the latter. At the same time, membership in a local church, involvement in the activities of a worshipping community, helps the academic theologian to remember what his subject is all about, and keeps his studies properly 'earthed'. One constantly hears complaints nowadays, among Catholics and Protestants alike, of the widening gap between scholars' understanding of Scripture and the use made of it by 'ordinary' Christians. The gap would not be so wide, I am sure, if more scholars were to involve themselves in the day-to-day life of a local church and communicate the fruits of their scholarship to their fellow church members in a form which the latter could assimilate. I have known some distinguished scholars who did this, to their own enrichment as well as the enrichment of the others.

F.F. Bruce, In Retrospect, pp. 143-44.


Anonymous said...


It is so good to read a quotation like this one from a scholar whom one should seek to immulate. Thanks for sharing these with us.

May a generation of scholars stand in his place.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

This was one of those nuggets of wisdom I mentioned.

I have always been grateful that most of the scholars (biblical, theological, church history, etc.) of my Anabaptist/Baptist tradition have also been strongly rooted in the church: holding interim pastorates, teaching Sunday School, leading church retreats, and participating in the full life of the church. This has been true regardless of whether the scholar was "liberal," "conservative," or something else not easily plottable on such a line.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this quotation. It should inspire all of us to rethink about our audience in our scholarly study.Bruce's statement confirms this one "The Bible is for the church, not for the scholarly community"

May we follow Bruce's footsteps in our service to the church.

thunderbeard said...

this is a great book. i got lucky enough to find it on ebay for about $2.50 a little while back.

slaveofone said...

This is well received in that as I've just decided to begin pursuing several degrees, I've also just decided it's time to join a local church and get involved on the level of the organization. I never would've imagined myself doing either.

One of Freedom said...

I'm convinced as well that this is true. I've had the pleasure of serving pastorally all the while I've been studying academically and the interplay is so needed.