This past week I've spent a couple of nights under my house. The recent flooding damaged my air conditioning unit. An older believer (relatively speaking!) was kind enough to "help" me with the project. I put help in quotes because basically he is doing everything while I hold the light.
We've discussed various things, but something came out in one of our topics which hasn't left my mind. A particular theological emphasis was being discussed which I have been reading about lately. I told him about an author I've been studying, who I felt gave a helpful contribution to the topic. After my explanation, he told me I was beyond him in understanding this particular emphasis. I don't doubt his sincerity one bit.
But that's what makes this brother so helpful. While everyone else was studying various nuances of theology as explained by the Reformers, he was systematically reading the Bible through and writing down every verse that relates to the various biblical subjects. While men were mastering what Theologian A believes about Theologian B, this brother was systematizing those verses, and by comparing Scripture with Scripture he came up with the Biblical emphasis and framework for each topic.
Now I know this brother reads other books. And no one would question the legitimacy of reading such books. But I sense he hasn't been content to send Moses on the mountain for him. His insight is fresh because he hasn't spent every waking moment studying the modern guys, who studied the Puritans, who studied the Reformers, who studied the Patristics, who (hopefully) studied the Bible.
Thousands of theological books are written every year - sometimes by the same author! And the conference circuit is completely out of hand. You basically get the same 5 guys with the same general emphasis at the same conferences every other week. Dear friend, we can spend all of our time mastering the thoughts of other men. But the crying need of the Church today is men who will be alone with God. Men who will climb the mountain and tarry with God in His Word until their hearts burn with fury against a wicked and perverted generation. Men who will not blindly follow a confession or creed, but will "examine the Scriptures to see if these are so."
Who knows how much of our theology is simply the philosophical baggage of a previous generation of theologians? We simply will not know until we are willing to lay aside the prestige of being up-to-date on who is saying what, and return to studying the Scriptures.
I assure you I feel my need in these matters.