Luke 1:1-4 Enter the Academic?

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Enter the Academic?

When I was growing up and I went to college I lost some friends.  They felt like I had become irrelevant or too much a person with his head in the clouds.  I started using, unintentionally, words they didn’t know.  My sentence structure was convoluted to them.  I never did learn how to change the oil on my car and that was proof of how useless I had become.  Because I didn’t immerse myself in the practical world of the senses, I was of no earthly good. 

I was a waster of my time and energies to some degree.  They had a point.  However, the fact that I studied educational theory did not make true the axiom, “Those who can do, and those who can’t teach.”  As I learned to teach, I learned to manage a classroom and I learned how children learn.  Now that I am much older and have considered more theory and read more books, I am able to help people to become teachers and also to see what practical steps need to be taken in order to help people grow spiritually.

Peter, through Mark, and Matthew by himself had written accounts of Jesus’ life.  They were ‘this is Jesus as I saw him’ kinds of accounts.  Mark has all the immediacy of an account patched together by an impetuous fisherman.  Matthew has the details of a Jewish toll-booth operator who expected a king to rule Israel.  Luke builds on these two accounts in a methodical and scholarly way.  He takes the gospel writings that exist and he interviews everyone else he can find who saw Jesus and had a credible memory of the events.  There is a place for the impassioned testimony of an eye-witness, but there is also a place for an academic treatment of the events.  It tends to be that scholarship stands the test of time and trickles down from the ivory towers into the minds of the populace in ways that they do not understand.  For example, scholarly minds in France developed a skeptical school of thought which we know as postmodernism and that has filtered down into the man on the street when he insists that no-one has the truth and no-one can tell anyone else what is right for them to do.

Academic procedures bring credibility and justification for knowledge.  Someone who doubts that Jesus existed might dismiss easily a fisherman and a booth-operator, but are they so quick to dismiss a thorough historian going about his task?  If they are fair, they must take time to evaluate the claims being made.  Of course, many have an irrational opposition to any faith and leave their own prejudice and fears unexamined.

How do you feel about the role of scholarship?  How do you love God with your mind?  Luke committed his talents to recording a thorough account for Theopholis (Lover of Wisdom).  Do you love wisdom enough to give Dr. Luke some credit for his scholarship?


I’d rather learn from a conversation than read a book.  I’d rather play games than study.  I am thinking of how my entry into my doctoral studies program may make me lay some things aside and make me more into the person that you want to be.  In some ways, though, I am ashamed of study.  In other ways I am ashamed of how little I know.  I stand torn between my anti-intellectual experiences in church and with my friends, and my academic circles at Moody Bible Institute and at conferences.  Help me to know more who you have designed me to be and help me to commit to that path, even if it is to be a bridge between both worlds like Luke was in his writing.


  1. To whom is the book written?
  2. How was it compiled?
  3. What is the role of scholarship in the composition of scripture?
  4. How do you justify the things you say?
  5. How do you develop the life of the mind for the glory of God?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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1 Response to Luke 1:1-4 Enter the Academic?

  1. Joshua Gleinser says:

    How do I feel about the role of scholarship? As I look at the places where I have learned and where I am currently studying, I greatly appreciate the work that the people have come before me have put into the information that I am absorbing. I know that, especially at Moody Bible Institute, my professors have personal experience, they have struggled with the material, and hopefully they are faithful to the word of God on to whom someday they will answer too.

    How do you love God with your mind? I believe if you took a scan of my brain and measured how much I think about God daily, it would be very low and sometimes not at all, most of the times being right when I wake up or right before I go to bed, for that is how I have trained myself.

    After reading this post I absolutely respect Luke for the work that he has done in preparing his work. And his background certainly helped him and I believe God allowed that to happen for his purposes. I am also thankful for the other gospel writers, who do not dumb down the gospel, but I believe certain people can connect with them better in some ways. And those are also for God’s purposes. This I know, God can use anyone for his purposes.

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