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The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry Paperback – March 31, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Few books are so needed as this. Recapturing the vision of the pastor as scholar and the scholar as pastor is crucial for the health of the church. Who would not want to read John Piper and D. A. Carson as they reflect on this calling? This is one of the most encouraging and helpful books I have seen in a long time. If you are a pastor, read it. If you have a pastor, put it in his hands.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“How we need pastors and professors who love God with their minds and their emotions. Two of the preeminent evangelicals of our day reflect here on what it means to love Christ with all our heart. I was encouraged, convicted, and challenged by this book. It is a treasure well worth rereading.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean of the School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I’m deeply encouraged by the growing number of pastoral scholars and scholarly pastors. Probably no living Christians have done more to bring about this trend than D. A. Carson and John Piper. In this book, they will inspire you with stories from their journeys and challenge you with seasoned advice. Most of all, they will lead you to thank God that he gives you the privilege of leading and teaching his church.”
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots

“Who could count how many of us have had our lives changed by the ministries of John Piper and D. A. Carson? How many more have come to Christ or have been discipled in the Gospel by pastors and teachers influenced by these leaders. This book is a riveting breed, granting us a candid, personal, and behind-the-scenes look at what the Lord has used to shape these ministries. As you read this book, pray that the Lord Jesus would raise up, even now the next generation of pastor-theologians and theologian-pastors to carry on the great work of Christ-exaltation and Kingdom-mission.”
Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Onward

“These are important chapters by two of evangelicalism’s most important thinkers. In an age that has largely forgotten the native connection between theology and the church, John Piper and D. A. Carson remind us that these two worlds belong together. There can be, of course, no turning back the clock; the modern research university is here to stay. But Piper and Carson offer us two good examples of how to navigate the contemporary terrain with a view to producing ecclesial theology—theology in service to the church. This short book is a great beginning to a conversation that has been long overdue.”
Gerald Hiestand, Senior Associate Pastor, Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park, Illinois; Executive Director, Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology

About the Author

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don’t Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of the Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books including Scandalous, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, and The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

David Mathis serves as executive editor at desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church, and adjunct professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary. He and his wife, Megan, have three children.

Owen Strachan (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of Christian theology and director of the Theological and Cultural Engagement at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (March 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781433526473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433526473
  • ASIN: 1433526476
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Piper, John & Carson, D.A. 2011. The Pastor as Scholar & The Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry. Crossway: Wheaton, IL

I wish to thank Crossway for sending me this review copy. I also want to thank the editors Owen Strachan and David Mathis for bringing these wonderful lectures to print for all to consume via print and to mark up (like I did). The lectures were great via video and I would recommend that folks both read the book and check out the lectures.

The book is essentially a call for the unification of the mind and heart in pastoral ministry and academic training of future pastors. Piper and Carson mention how deadly the "guild" can become if one seeks to please the academic world. They also note the danger of anemic theology and right thinking from the pulpit. They both posses a love for the church and view their ministries as complementing each other in the worthy task of edifying the saints in Biblical truth. Here are some of the great quotes I marked in my review:

Never again did I play fast and loose with my attachment to the local church. To cut yourself off from a local church with a sense of self-sufficiency is, in the long run, suicidal (Piper 37).

Piper was making mention of his delay in finding a local church during his academic studies and the great edification Lake Avenue Congregational church was for him once he joined and ministered there.

Piper summarizes his personal vision for pastoral ministry as follows,

So for thirty years I have tried, with much imperfection and manifold failures, to live up to my own message, to penetrate the heart and awaken the kind of affections for God that would accord with his glory, and create lives that would make him look great.
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This is an excellent book for those who are not sure whether they are called to pursue a vocation as a pastor or scholar. John Piper shares his story of how he started as a scholar and ended up a pastor, and D.A.Carson shares how he started as a pastor and ended up a scholar.

The book is fascinating in that it helps confirm whether you are called to one or the other. Like many, I, too, came to the crossroads of deciding on a vocation as a pastor or professor, and this book sealed the confirmation. An example for me was when Piper stated that he needed to process information and share it with others through his convictions and point of view and not merely as third person information in a classroom.

I knew then that I, too, am called to study and share what I learn through personal life experiences and the convictions that have emerged from them. Thus, I discovered that I am a pastor first, and then a scholar. I am confident that this book will help you lean one way or the other. The other book I highly recomment as a follow-up is Ben WItherington's "Is There A Doctor in the House?" He charts the rigorous path towards scholarship. I highly recommend both books.
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The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor consists of two talks (one by Piper, the other by Carson). The talks were originally delivered in 2009 at the request of The Carl F.H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding. (Media for the original event may be accessed here.)

This book is a wonderful addition to the whole discussion of "the Evangelical mind," the modern manifestation of which began with Mark Noll's seminal and recently-sequeled The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind twenty years ago and which has continued, most notably, in the works of Os Guinness, Alister McGrath, and, recently, in Piper's own monograph, Think.

The central contention of both talks is that the radical distinction between "pastor" and "scholar" (roughly analagous in modern parlance as the distinction between "heart" and "head") is unnecessary, unhelpful, and injurious to effective ministry. Piper and Carson effectively argue that knowledge and feeling ought not be pitted against one another. On the contrary, the rigid, careful study of the truths of God should naturally give rise to the most powerful affections and emotions, for they will instill a sense of intellectual integrity to our hearts and keep the faith from being flooded by mere emotionalism. On the other hand, we should study passionately, not in some kind of supposed vacuum in which we are untouched by the overwhelming grandeur of that which we are studying.

Piper and Carson convincingly argue that the pastor should strive for scholarly acumen and a robust development of the mind, not for social or vocational advancement, but because the verities of the faith demand nothing less than our best efforts.
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This book didn't live up to its title. Or at least, it didn't from the beginning.

I cannot say what I expected with this book's title. Perhaps a systematic on the biblical principles for spiritual leadership and scholarship. But rather, it was a reflection on two prominent evangelicals and how they arrived in their respective areas. Therefore it was more of their personal narrative. It turns out to be a very warming and satisfying book especially if you're familiar with these two men's backgrounds.

I admit, I was disappointed in the book during Piper's section. I thought I had wasted time and money on a simple biography. But Carson, even if he were alone in this book, simply overwhelmed me with his precision and insight. Even the conclusion by David Mathis was stirring and persuasive.

Overall, I am thankful I picked up this book even if I did feel that Piper's section was a bit thin.
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