In last week’s post, I addressed the first and second lines of the InFocus purpose statement. Today, I’d like to address the third line.

Our purpose

Our purpose is…

to develop the Australian blogosphere,
….to cultivate serious and useful discussion, and
………to develop a generation of readers, thinkers, and theologians.

1. Readers

The term “readers” here does not refer to the mere activity of reading, nor does it imply that everyone should be a “bookworm.” Instead it refers to a quality of character.

Perhaps the closest synonym is “learner.” Readers read because they understand that they don’t know everything yet. And the more they read, the more they realise that they don’t know much at all.

2. Thinkers

When I say “thinkers,” I am not suggesting that everyone should have a reflective personality. Rather, I mean that we take appropriate care to think things through.

Thinkers are people who do not walk away from an idea just because it isn’t easy to understand. Thinkers try to understand. They may not always succeed, but at least they try.

Additionally, thinkers are not content with poor thinking. When something does not follow logically, they seek clarification and if need be, reject it because they understand that an invalid argument is no better than no argument.

3. Theologians

Again, when I say “theologians,” I am not referring to pastors. Nor am I referring to theology graduates. I am referring to people who have a systematic, working knowledge of Christian theology.

Such a working knowledge is unlikely to be gained by merely sitting under preaching. It will usually require some degree of systematic study.

Theologians can take any particular sermon, passage, or area of doctrine and at least have an idea of where it fits in the broader system of Christian theology. Because of this, they can discuss theology with others in a coherent and beneficial manner.

Theologians also have a framework around which to fit the things they are learning as they read and think.

While becoming such a theologian will not likely occur immediately after salvation, it is something that can be attained in one or two years of intense study or five to ten years of more sporadic study.

What would happen if…?

What would happen if we did not develop a generation of readers, thinkers, and theologians?

Christianity in Australia would begin to degenerate. Our theology would become shallow and twisted. Our theological debates would become incoherent and inane. Our pulpits would become places for guys to give their opinions.

We would become weak people who are susceptible to cultic thinking and practice. We would become gullible. We would end up fighting and dividing over doctrines we didn’t even understand.

We would end up discouraging our brightest minds from developing. We would lose those who did develop. We would see a diminishing in good scholarship and peer-reviewed publication.

We would become rigid and cantankerous. We would become legalistic and judgemental. We would become narrow and sectarian.

Our children would grow up knowing what to believe, but neither knowing why nor actually believing it. We would become focused on externals. We would begin to de-emphasise doctrine and emphasise “practical teaching.”

Eventually, we would have so neglected and reshaped theology that we would lose the gospel itself. If we were to not develop a generation of readers, thinkers, and theologians, there would come a day in Australia when our own children would grow up in our own churches and hardly even understand what the gospel really is.

What would be the fate of such a generation?

I shudder to think.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at


  1. Alen Basic 16 September, 2010 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    This sounds like a great idea! How can I get involved? ;)

  2. Robert Apps 17 September, 2010 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Jason, we need to push the line that theologians are essentially the ‘teachers’ (they have the ‘word of knowledge’ see 1 Cor 12) of the NT, some will also be pastors if that is their calling too. what profit is there in an having a great theological mind unless that can be imparted to others?

    pastors should at least have the heart of a theologian even if some are sharper than others.

    your comments about our children (and michael is on my lap as I type) resonates with me.

    only God knows what the next generation will do but if we don’t take a stand for solid theology then we have no right to expect any more from them when their turn comes.

  3. Jason Harris 17 September, 2010 at 8:25 pm - Reply


    I was thinking of “theologians” more along the lines of the Bereans in Acts 17:11. I would suggest that every believer should either be a theologian or should be on their way to becoming a theologian. I would think that while being a theologian does not make one a mature believer, a mature believer would always be a theologian.

    I’m not sure if we’re on the same page there.

  4. Steve 17 September, 2010 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Some very lofty goals there Jason. Worthy of thought too.

    I believe these goals should be the purpose of the local church primarily but unfortunately many churches have dropped the ball on these points and people need to be spiritually fed elsewhere. Every Christian should be a reader (or learner), a thinker and a theologian, in the sense that you explained above.

    All three of your points (readers, thinkers, theologians) could and I believe should be addressed from the pulpit via good, solid, systematic and thorough expository teaching.

    It may take time but people need to see the benefit of sitting through and absorbing good teaching (enduring sound doctrine). Many churches, if not most, do not make the word of God a priority and do not teach it in a systematic way. Preaching is very shallow and proper, exegetical theology is unheard of. It is up to the pastors to realise they need to change the way they teach and to lead the people back to the word of God.

    Websites like this one are great but should in no way be a substitute for church based teaching. I don’t mean to be discouraging but that’s the truth.

  5. Jason Harris 17 September, 2010 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    Amen Steve! Nothing can replace the local church in developing mature believers. Nothing. Believers who are not organically connected to a local church are in sin. Full stop.

    Thank you for pointing that out. Perhaps I need a third post addressing that angle.

    I do not view InFocus as a stop-gap for failing local churches. Rather, I view InFocus as simply another tool to help Jesus Christ’s church in the job it has to do, both at the local level and at the broader level. In that sense it would be on a similar par to a Christian university, publishing house, book store, grade school, etc. None of these can replace the local church and none should try. But all may have a valid and beneficial place.

  6. Robert Apps 18 September, 2010 at 7:48 am - Reply

    yes Jason, we are looking at this from a different vantage point. believers do need to be ‘bereans’ as it were. maybe that is where the vocational theologians will ultimately come from.

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