I went to work about a year ago at a local hardware store/lumber yard. It was too much of a cut in pay so I went back to remodel work. But worst of all (or best) I lost the time so precious to me. Working on estimates for houses and garages, pricing sheets, answering phones and waiting on customers no longer afforded me the time to listen to my audio materials. Obviously I wasn't going to walk around with headphones on. The personal interaction was good.
That's the only downside to my present job. Other than dealing with customers which in itself is a challenge, I'm often alone. I have to communicate to procure the work and instill confidence in a homeowner for them to hire me. I have to communicate with them and explain why a certain shower won't work or what will have to be done to install it. But I don't have to deal with the daily grind of working alongside others. At least not anymore. I've had plenty jobs in the past where I've been in some difficult situations. The military was probably the worst. It was a constant struggle and often unpleasant. It's a closed society and though there's a level of superficial etiquette, among the enlisted ranks it can be pretty foul and for a Christian pretty miserable.
So with reluctance I returned to my work but with a new appreciation for its nature and the listening time it affords me. But most of all I love the freedom I have...to come and go as I please, to set the agenda for the day, to take a day off when I need it. Since we homeschool our children this also works nicely with our domestic schedule. If I end up for whatever reason taking a day off, our kids aren't in school and we can do what we want.
As the years have passed it has been pointed out to me more than once that I have gift when it comes to talking to people. I can talk with rich or poor, educated or uneducated. I live in a strange world where intellectually I more or less belong to one class while on a practical level I belong to another. In terms of tastes I resonate with both and neither. Most educated people usually assume I educated. I've talked with many pastors and professors who after talking to me for a short time assume I'm part of their world. It's interesting watching the response I get when I inform them I possess no degree, no certification of any kind.
Sometimes they just shut down...the conversation is over, or if it continues they take a bit of a patronizing tone as in, "well, you just keep working at it and maybe someday..."
Others express shock and are humbled that someone who has not gone through the education programmes they have has been able to learn many of these things, become conversant and perhaps even push them a bit.
Either way it's bad for me. Pride tends to kick in. Against the one party I start to get a chip on my shoulder and feel myself becoming defiant...against the other I start to feel prideful.
But one thing I have clearly learned is this....
Formal education doesn't necessarily mean very much. It helps, but it's no guarantee the recipient will be able to think. A lot of people can memorize facts and models but they don't know how to integrate different ideas, how to make them interact and communicate. A lot of people can read a book but they can't challenge it. They might disagree with a book or article but they can't define what the real issue of difference is. It's great for exposing you to new ideas, but beyond that it's largely dependent on the mind and heart of the student. You can get a degree and then stagnate, or you can get a degree and further your education by building on the foundation given to you. Or you can be like me and just love learning and view all of life as school. I have nothing to show for it in a formal sense, but does that mean I'm uneducated?
I've talked to PhD's that struck me as dullards. I've talked to people brilliant in their field but unable to think beyond establishment models. To even question these ways of thinking about government, society, theology, or history is akin to destroying their world and invalidating their legitimacy.
For many in Christian circles they have found comfort in institutional identification and are very threatened when the institutional narrative is called into question. They're educated but instead of thinking they spew endless articles and books reaffirming their own views. Their peer review consists of peers within their own faction telling them 'well done' over and over again.
They hide behind terms like scholarliness...and charge their opponents with lacking it. There's a place for being scholarly, putting forward conservative orderly and proven arguments that are well documented and making use of proper sources.
But at the same time this is no guarantee that you're right. I remember while in seminary I wrote a paper on J Marcellus Kik's 'Postmillennialism'. A friend of mine allowed one of his Theonomists friends to read it. The Theonomist was appalled and attacked it for lacking scholarliness and was even more offended it had been written by a seminarian.
My professor who hardly was in agreement with my extreme Amillennial anti-Theonomic, anti-Triumphalist views gave me an 'A' on the paper and praised my scholarly work. Go figure.
Sometimes being educated consists of more than writing papers and receiving grades. In that case I learned how subjective one's education and credentials can be.
I vacillate on the issue of scholarliness. I certainly appreciate it when it comes to something like manuscript evidence, or a technical commentary...but then again I scratch my head and wonder if a wrong turn has been made. Theology is not the queen of the sciences. The revered Princeton theologians of the 19th century certainly viewed it in this scientific framework. I'm afraid I just completely disagree with that.
The issues we're dealing with are foolishness to the world and spiritually discerned. I would think many of these people would know better, and realize Biblical studies and doctrinal development are nothing like math or science, or even literature. So then why do we emulate their academic models? They often seem to treat the Bible like a sourcebook for mathematical formulae. When I think of other fields and the possibility of parallels to theology, I think of something like the law where you have not just simple arguments and issues but often overlapping issues concerning laws that seem to contradict, addressing issues from different claim perspectives, the interpretation of precedent, questions of jurisdiction, and all of this interacting with legally protected rights and procedural issues. It's hardly straightforward, cut and dry.
And yet that's also insufficient much in the way the naturalist interacts with theistic proofs. Naturalism wants empirical evidence of God's existence. The problem is empiricism can't account for metaphysical realities let alone God himself. They're looking in the wrong places and with the wrong tools.
What I'm trying to say is this...I'm not sure theology needs to be considered under the same standards of scholarship that other sciences are treated. There's a danger in wishing to conform to the standards of secular academia. Iain Murray talked about this extensively in 'Evangelicalism Divided', where he discusses how Evangelicals lost and compromised so much in trying to remain relevant and respected to the outside world. In the end they gave up much of the Bible and certainly earned no respect from secular academics.