Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Write to be Assured that We are not Alone

Recently I had an occasion to give serious reflection upon my achievements with regard to research and writing. As I did so, a few things became apparent. The track record reflects my diverse interests--OT, NT, biblical theology, systematic theology, linguistics, philosophy, church history, history, culture, etc. Patterns and themes show themselves. Dominating my work, however, is Scripture's use of Scripture. This has definitely captured my attention with a focus upon the Bible's storyline which figures out in Christ Jesus. (I trust that my imagery is not lost on anyone who reads this.)
As I considered my research and writing program with an eye toward immediate and longer-range projections, I was constrained to give careful thought to why I engage in research and writing. Indeed, the ultimate objective and goal is to glorify God. But why research and write, when plenty of my peers in the academic sphere are quite content to confine their influence to the classroom and not beyond it?
I wondered. If it is true that “we read to know we are not alone” (Shadowlands), perhaps we write to be assured that we are not alone. By this, I mean, we write to perfect our thoughts as our own to influence others to join with us in our understanding. Writing for others draws others to share our thoughts and ideas with us, and if done well, to think God's thoughts after him.
Long ago I learned a great benefit and value of writing for others, whether for presentation or publication or both. Writing disciplines speech. The discipline of writing constrains me to acquire a large vocabulary, the benefit of which is that this lexicon goes with me to the classroom to adorn my speech with variation and with precision which I would otherwise not possess, which would diminish the quality and effectiveness of my teaching. Thus, we become much better communicators in our speech, if we become disciplined writers. We become better teachers in the classroom, if we submit our written thoughts and ideas to the chastening and criticism of others, especially that of editors.
Hence, I write in order that I might become a more effective classroom instructor, a better communicator of all that the Lord gives me to teach. An added privilege to writing for publication is that the classroom of my influence expands exponentially beyond our college campus, even around the world.
After a quarter of a century of instructing students in classrooms, one of my great desires is that my classroom teaching might someday come to measure up to my writing. I fear, however, that time will expire for me before parity is attained.