A Christian worker bemoans the fact that religion professors too often do not instill faith or encourage piety in students, and that the academic study of the Bible in institutions of higher learning sometimes even diminishes faith and stifles spirituality. A religion professor responded, in effect, that scholarship and piety do not mix.
* * *
Every disciple of Jesus is called to a life focused on God, patterned after Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit. When that life is healthy and unhindered, it manifests itself in a bouquet of beautiful traits, including inner faith, personal piety, spiritual discipline, corporate worship, communal fellowship and active service. The professional prerequisites of an academic scholar — even in fields of religion, the Bible, or Christianity — do not necessarily include any of these traits. A professional academic scholar does need other traits which are not required of every healthy disciple of Jesus Christ.
However, an academic scholar who is also a disciple of Jesus is challenged to fulfill two tasks. First, to exemplify the full-rounded life of every healthy disciple. Second, to manifest those traits which are needed by and are unique to academic scholars. Because the Christian scholar remains at all times a disciple, academic qualifications cannot replace or substitute for those of discipleship, although they do equip the scholarly disciple to perform well the professional task to which he or she is called.
Such a professor will positively affect and encourage any disciples of Jesus who might be his or her students, just as every other faithful and active disciple of Jesus will also do. That should be enough to keep us all busy, wherever God has placed us in the Body and in the world.