I Know More Than My Pastor (Ridgley)

It does happen sometimes when a regular member of the church has more doctrinal or biblical knowledge than his or her pastor. For example, sometimes seminary professors are regular members of a church. For another example, sometimes church members take Bible or theology classes and have spent more time studying a certain book or topic than his or her pastor. However, sometimes people only think they know more than their pastor. I appreciate how Thomas Ridgely discussed this in volume 2 of his Body of Divnity. [This quote is found under Ridgley’s explanation of Q/A 155 of the Westminster Larger Catechism: “How is the Word made effectual to salvation? I’ve edited the quote very slightly for readability.]

It is objected by some that they know as much as ministers can teach them; at least, that they know enough (although they don’t practice it perfectly). This objection sometimes savors of pride and self-conceit, in those who suppose themselves to understand more of the doctrines of the gospel than they really do.

It can hardly be said concerning the greatest number of professing Christians, that they either know as much as they ought, or that it is not possible for them to make advances in knowledge by a diligent attendance on an able and faithful ministry. However, that we may give the utmost scope to the objection, we will admit that some Christians know more than many ministers who are less skilful than others in the word of truth.

But it must be observed that there are other ends of hearing the word besides the gaining of knowledge, namely, 1) the bringing of the doctrines of the gospel to our remembrance, and 2) their being impressed on our affections; and for attaining these ends, the wisest and best of men have not thought it below them to attend upon the ministry of those who knew less than themselves. Our Savior was an hearer of the word before he entered on his public ministry; and though it might, I think, truly be said of him, that though he was but twelve years old, he knew more than the doctors, in the midst of whom he sat in the temple, yet ‘he heard and asked them questions.’ And David, though he professes himself to have ‘more understanding than all his teachers;’ yet was glad to embrace all opportunities to go up into the house of the Lord; this being God’s appointed means for a believer’s making advances in grace.

 Thomas Ridgley, A Body of Divinity, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 444.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015