Thursday, October 04, 2012
Passing On History
Although he did not match the sheer brilliance of his predecessor Jonathan Edwards (what successor has?), Hodge's greatest contributions were cogently representing the faith in his fifty-six years of teaching, his training of more than three thousand seminary students (no professor of any kind taught more graduate students in the 19th century), and writing theological books read by millions.In an age when academia seems to be solely focused on "advancing knowledge," I find it quite refreshing to discuss academia's other deep purpose - preserving knowledge.
I find Hodge's example particularly useful and encouraging: no one can really aspire to match the intellectual skills of a Jonathan Edwards, but all Christian thinkers can seek to pass on the historic faith to congregations, students, and readers in their place and time. Charles Hodge, in that sense, is one of the heroes of American Christian history.
Particularly when it comes to religion a study so ancient as to almost defy description, how much advancement is possible. We are talking a very mature field of study here. But academia still must make sure that people understand the work that has been done, before it disappears and has to be rediscoverd all over again.
This is not merely an academic pursuit, but a spiritual one. If we discover everything for ourselves, faith becomes about us. But if we sit at the feet of those that have gone before and learn from them, faith becomes about God - not us.
After all - it is about God.