Things I’ve Learned (by Dr. Michael S. Heiser)
1. Most people have never escaped high school.
2. For scholars: In the academy, being tolerated is not the same as being respected.
- There is great explanatory power in this observation in regard to why people, aged well beyond the teen years, live the way teenagers do (boozing, promiscuity, irresponsible decisions, etc.) and hang out with the same sort of people. They are still in high school in their like-minded high school clique, doing what adolescents do. Everyone is older now, but it’s still high school. In short, they never grow up into thought modes that transcend the assumption that someone else is to blame for their behavior and will bail them out when needed. On the flip side, this ought to teach us something positive. It’s in high school (or college) where we often form our strongest bonds with people. If our churches and adult (Christian or not) relationships cannot compete with that comeraderie, perhaps they are deficient for reasons that ought to be addressed.
3. Many Christians really do need to be convinced to care about Bible study.
- Academic respectability is largely a myth. It invariably needs self-definition to avoid that mythical status, too. Of what am I speaking? Many evangelical scholars think that by hiding the fact they actually believe the content of Scripture’s teaching about the supernatural world they maintain respectability in the eyes of unbelieving colleagues. That might be the case if you simply reject what Scripture says about supernatural realities (other than God and maybe Jesus) and your colleages know that. But if they know you believe things beyond that, like angels, demons, possession, Daniel 10’s princes, etc. (and even in Christ as God), the best you can hope for is tolerance. That isn’t the same thing as respect or acceptance, so don’t confuse the two.
4. For scholars: Quit blaming the people outside the guild for not appreciating your brilliance.
- Don’t believe it? Try getting into a serious (not even fringe) biblical theology discussion at church a random attendee who is outside your immediate circle of friends. Some suggestions: Anything in the Old Testament that involves more than a casual glance; the “already but not yet” reality of the kingdom; what “the see was no more” (Rev 21:1) really means; what 1 Cor 6:3 really means; how the Day of Atonement blood offering (the goat that is actually killed) is really about “making atonement for the Holy Place” (Lev 16:16) and not applied to the people; etc. Chances are you’ll be viewed as over-zealous and be told “Hey, it’s all about Jesus anyway, so we’re good.” If not, ask them what they’ve *studied* in Scripture recently. That will do it.
5. No Christian matures into fundamentalism.
- If your work doesn’t reach the people in the pew you have only yourself to blame. The word of God wasn’t exclusively (or even mostly) intended for the inspection of wizards. If you don’t care if your work ever translates in some way to the needs of the people in the pew, you’re not a biblical scholar for the right reasons.
- The wonders we discover in the text should humble us and make us less convinced of our own omniscience, not more. Maturity convinces us that not everything in Scripture has equal clarity — and that was God’s choice. If God had wanted the content of Scripture on end times to be as clear as the identity of Christ he’d have prompted writers to devote more space to such things. He didn’t, so let’s stop pretending he did and stop judging other committed believers for where they stand on less clear matters.