The Spirit Of The Theological Teacher -- By: J. Alvin Orr

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 081:322 (Apr 1924)
Article: The Spirit Of The Theological Teacher
Author: J. Alvin Orr


The Spirit Of The Theological Teacher

J. Alvin Orr

In attempting to deal with a subject so broad, one has some embarrassment, because he can start almost anywhere and proceed in almost any direction. I have read of a celebrated minister who in his early school days was assigned the dreaded duty of furnishing an essay every week on the topic of his own selection. In the attempt to discharge that task he soon came to the end of all thinkable subjects and did not know what to write about next. Presently, however, he hit upon this device which promised to be very fruitful: he tried to find a topic so large and generous that it might be continued from week to week without any fear of exhausting it. He coined this fruitful and promising phrase for his theme, “The World and Its Contents.” That lively situation did not last long, however, and he discovered what afterwards he realized even more completely, that it is the “narrow chimney which makes the best draft”; and to have a theme too big is equal to having no theme at all. Something of that feeling comes to one with so roomy a theme as this.

Perhaps I can do no better, however, than to begin by the statement that the work of a theological professor is to help prepare ministers of Jesus Christ, that they may go forth to preach to the world the Gospel of the Saviour and to build up the Kingdom of God. This is his work. That should be his ambition. And a good and noble work and worthy ambition it is.

It is fitting to call our attention first to the truth that all of us are teaching by our lives. Those who are called to be teachers of men, who are to be guides and guardians of the souls of men, cannot keep this truth too vivid. They are to be men who shall woo others to the Saviour. Young men who have felt the call of God to be heralds of saving grace come to them for preparation.

A fair inference from the New Testament is that Jesus, who would found a kingdom, counted more upon imprint-

ing Himself upon the twelve than upon anything He should say to them. He chose the twelve “that they might be with Him.” The acquiring of His spirit, the impress of Himself upon them—this was to be a large element of their preparation. And He was teaching the twelve as He healed the sick, as He supplied physical needs: He taught as He wept over Jerusalem; as He agonized in the garden; as He stood silent before His judges; as He bore the pain and the shame of the cross.

It is true in the college hall, and it is much more true in the Seminary, that the spirit of the teacher affects the entire life of the student. It was said of a greatly used pastor that he was “so reverent toward God, so full also ...

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