My experiences with Ivory Tower Theologians and armchair
quarterbacks is extensive.
An armchair quarterback is one that from his armchair
watching television speaks up only to critique the actual
quarterback making the plays and having to deal
with the daily
reality of onrushing linemen and fickle coaches.
Like the Nobles of Tekoa, they critique Nehemiah
while he actually built the wall. (Nehemiah 3:5;5:7ff)
An ivory tower theologian is one who formulates his or her theology
from an ivory tower but never really tests it and his application of it in the real world.
An ivory tower theologian looks at life and God from the balcony.
"The balconeers' can overhear the travellers' chat and talk with them; they may comment critically on the way that the travellers
walk; or they may discuss questions about the road, how it can exist at all or lead somewhere, what might be seen from different
points along it, and so forth; but they are onlookers and their problems are theoretical only. The travellers, by contrast,
face problems which, though they have their theoretical angle, are essentially practical-problems-problems of the 'which-way-to-go'
and 'how-to-make-it' type, problems which call not merely for comprehension but for decision and action too. ...Or take the
problem of the Godhead; while the balconeer is asking how one God can conceivably be three, what sort of unity three could
have, and how three who make one can be persons, the traveller wants to know how to show proper honour, love and trust toward
the three persons who are now together at work to bring him out of sin to glory." (Knowing God, Packer, pg. 5,6)
I am of the persuasion that we need to spend some time on the balcony
and time travelling.
It is about knowing God then knowing about God.
The balconeer might initially know God then about God but doesn't
know how the rubber of his theology meets the road of reality.
Incarnational theology is about rubber meets the road theology
God didn't pontificate from heaven without seeing the need to come
and live among us. (John 1)
When Christ came down from heaven he was in all way ways tempted
like we were yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the
feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4)
This helps him to help those that are tempted.
Incarnational Theology is crucial in reaching others.
My first impacting experiences with Ivory Tower theologians and
Christians came in my years of actually running a Christian Coffeehouse/Mission and living in a Christian communal environment.
A local pastor of a church I was attending at the time wrote a
book about unleashing Christians into different ministries. His explanation of this strategy was quite exciting to me until
I read a particular chapter in his book. This chapter spoke of a house ministry that I was living in at the time. When I read
this I could tell that this pastor/author must have been taking the word of the man that allegedly ran the ministry. When
preaching one Sunday this pastor/author gave the location of the house ministry that was completely inaccurate. When he asked
the alleged leader of this ministry to come up front and describe this ministry to the congregation, it was also clear that
even this leader did not really know and want to know what was going on in his own outreach. He spoke of a particular woman
as his best example, we will call her Mary. A friend and I that actually lived at this house looked at each other in unbelief
while he shared how this woman had changed so dramatically.
How can these leaders expect anything but confusion and rebellion
if they do not teach accountability and communication through responsible example. The reason this pastor/author and the leader/loose
cannon of this particular ministry did not want to talk too much about accountability is probably that they would then have
to lead by example. The leader of this house ministry would minister ALONE with some of the unstable women from the house
until the wee hours of the morning. This showed me that accountability was not in his so called strategy and avoiding the
appearance of evil was not too important to him either.
The pastor/author he was allegedly accountable to was exposed several
years later for having an adulterous affair with a woman for eight years and was defrocked with his picture and sad story
in a local Christian Newspaper.
This pastor and his pastor really didn't know what was going on
with the needy but they certainly felt they had the authority to critique every move the actual workers made.
They of course let others run the mission while they observed from
their balconies and with their mistress.
This pastor would rather have others test his theories out in the
real world while he critiqued the workers actually doing the work.
These kind of folks want to let you do all the dirty work, getting
the accolades from men while at the same time, criticising the actual workers in the harvest field.
A recent experience I had was in an egroup where, a particular
group had been inactive for quite a while.
While this man spoke of his knowledge as a scientist, pastor and
theologian, he still didn't know how to get folks to talk in this group.
My involvement in the group activated the group and all kinds of
interaction resulted, mainly because I am a person people love to hate.
This ivory tower theologian would pop his head in every great once
in a while only to say hello, or to say that one day he would actually participate in the discussion.
Well, in the meantime the presiding Preterist seemed to have the
allegiance of most of the participants in the group, though that group was formed to expose Preterism for the lies that it
The moderator was an ivory tower dispie that made it clear in an
article that he wrote that Preterists were deceivers, don't belong to God, have a spirit of error, are antichrists. and 'gangrenous'
He even pointed out that the apostle Paul singled out two
individuals named Hymaenus and Philetus (Preterists) and called their teachings 'gangrenous' and 'subverting of somes faith.'
But yet he condemned those that made those same kind of statements
in actual debates with Preterists.
During my discussions with the dominating Preterist of this group
she decided to make my conversion an issue, calling me a 'Saul'.
She based this assumption on the backbiting and slander of
a judaizer and another Preterist that follow me from group to group.
This went on for a time, all the while the moderator occassionally
glancing from his ivory tower.
The moderator never acknowledged her initial taunting and slander.
He may have been afraid of actually confronting this woman.
When I decided i had enough and that I would call her on her abusive
behaviour and insulting of the messenger/me rather than critiquing my messages, the moderator finally stepped in saying that
we were both wrong and that we should both apologize to the group.
And get this, in so many words he said that we should never single
out individual Preterists as heretical but objectively and from our balconies critique Preterism.
This coming from a man that previously acknowledged that Paul singled
When I singled out this particular Preterist and her teaching as
heretical and dangerous, also pointing out her abusive behaviour I was condemned.
People get offended when one speaks as if they actually believe
what they are saying.
People also get offended when someone thinks that there is such
a thing as a right interpretation and an eternally wrong interpretation of scripture.
According to them, the only way you can humbly present the truth
is if you act like it is only an opinion.
Absolute truth is not on the same level as deciding what flavor
donut you prefer.
Funny isn't it that the apostle Paul spoke of things he was fully
persuaded of and he didn't make any apologies about it.
Well, to be condemned for responding to insults and calling heresy
heresy resulted in condemnation from the heretics (which is understandable), those only unified with heretics to oppose and
gang bang me, and spineless ivory tower theologians that can only write lofty articles from their balconies.
Well, if it isn't clear by now, this treatment hurt me deeply and
has made me ponder giving up this kind of ministry.
Since egroups typically are places for discussion and debate of
doctrine I don't share my feelings and wounds.
Antagonists sometimes use that against you later on.
My objectivity and conviction has been interpreted as arrogance
or as a robotic understanding of scripture.
Even Elijah had times of feeling forsaken and alone.
I'm not an ivory tower theologian, and have been involved in some
kind of rubber meets the road ministry for over twenty years and it is taking its toll on me.
I have both sat on the balcony and am a traveler.
I need your prayers and spiritual support.