In a recent commentary, R. Albert Mohler talks about the vital theological task performed by the pastor within the local church: “The pastoral calling is inherently theological. Given the fact that the pastor is to be the teacher of the Word of God and the teacher of the gospel, it cannot be otherwise. The idea of the pastorate as a non-theological office is inconceivable in light of the New Testament.
“The pastor’s stewardship of the theological task requires a clear sense of pastoral priority, a keen pastoral ear, and careful attention to the theological dimensions of church life and Christian discipleship. This must be foundational to the ministry of the local church, and ministry must emerge from a fundamentally theological foundation.
“In a very real sense, Christians live out their most fundamental beliefs in everyday life. One essential task of the pastor is to feed the congregation and to assist Christians to think theologically, in order to demonstrate discernment and authentic discipleship.
“All this must start with the pastor. The preacher must give attention, study, time and thought to the theological dimensions of ministry. A ministry that is deeply rooted in the deep truths of God’s Word will be enriched, protected and focused by a theological vision. The pastor’s concentrated attention to the theological task is necessary for the establishment of faithful preaching, God-honoring worship and effective evangelism in the local church. Such a theological vision is deeply rooted in God’s truth and in the truth about God that forms the very basis of Christian theology.
“The pastor’s concentration is a necessary theological discipline. Thus, the pastor must develop the ability to isolate what is most important in terms of theological gravity from that which is less important…
“The pastor’s theological concentration establishes a sense of proper proportion and a larger frame of theological reference. At the same time, this concentration on the theological dimension of ministry also reminds the pastor of the necessity of constant watchfulness.
“At crucial points in the history of Christian theology, the difference between orthodoxy and heresy has often hung on a single word or even a syllable. When Arius argued that the Son was to be understood as being of a similar substance as the Father, Athanasius correctly understood the entirety of the gospel was at risk. As Athanasius faithfully led the church to understand, the New Testament clearly teaches that the Son is of the same substance as the Father. In the Greek language, the distinction between the word offered by Arius and the correction offered by Athanasius was a single syllable. Looking back, we now cna see that when the Council of Nicaea met in A.D. 325, the gospel was defended and defined at this very point. Without the role of Athanasius as pastor and theologian, the heresy of Arius might have spread unchecked, leading to disaster for the young church.”