Subscribe via RSS Feed

Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue

From Pneuma Review Spring 2013

ExcellenceAndreas J. Kostenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 270 pages, ISBN 9781581349708.

As suggested by the title, Kostenberger’s interest in “excellence” has to do with Christian scholarship. For Kostenberger, Christian scholarship is the “pursuit of truth on mission for God in the world” (p. 66). The study of Scripture “must always lead to application” (p.80). The goal is “always obedience” as “there is no place in the Bible where God’s people are enjoined to study solely for the sake of study” (p. 80). The pursuit of excellence is different from the pursuit of perfection. Excellence is to not settle for mediocrity. It is pursued in order to fulfill one’s calling effectively, whatever that calling may be and to “bring glory to God.” Kostenberger’s purpose is “to identify, describe, and encourage those virtues essential to fulfilling the specific call to glorify God in the finest way possible through Christian scholarship. Rather than an end in itself, as adding to our own learning, Christian scholarship is a means of “engaging the unbelieving world with the truth of God’s gospel” (p. 65).

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness … so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3,11

Kostenberger presents 2 Peter 1:3-11 as the inspiration, model and scriptural foundation for his entire book. He gains his title from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi where he enjoins his readers to seek “excellence” (Philippians 4:8). Though the book’s content is concerned with excellence in Christian scholarship, it is not written in a scholarly manner. It is easy reading and lacks footnotes. It is also devoid of scholarly jargon. Excellence is directed to the informed Christian as much as it is directed to the college or seminary student or to their professor. This reviewer also finds the book beneficial for the preacher or evangelist who might want to write as well as speak. Kostenberger makes recommendations on pages 80 and 81 that are germane to speaking in public as well as to what is expressed in print.

Fundamental to “excellence” in Christian scholarship are holiness and spirituality and he relates them not so much to the process of communication as to the person who is doing the communicating. The character of the scholar “bleeds through” what one says or writes and can have either a positive or negative effect upon the hearer or reader. In part two of the book, Kostenberger identifies six different virtues that lead to vocational excellence. These are diligence, courage, passion, restraint, creativity, and eloquence. His recommendations are priceless. This reviewer encourages any would-be writer to take to heart what Kostenberger shares in this part of his book.

The pursuit of excellence is different from the pursuit of perfection. Excellence is to not settle for mediocrity. It is pursued in order to fulfill one’s calling effectively, whatever that calling may be and to bring glory to God.

The third part of the book identifies three virtues which lead to moral excellence. These are integrity, fidelity, and wisdom. “A scholar of integrity will excel and bring glory to God by consistently doing what is right”(p. 164). This reviewer recommends actually purchasing the book and not just checking it out from a library. There are many writing helps in Kostenberger’s Excellence that you will want to refer to.

Pin It
Page 1 of 212

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Living the Faith, Pneuma Review, Spring 2013

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1258 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Listening for God’s Voice and Heart in Scripture: A conversation with Craig S. Keener

    William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major w...

    Evangelist of Pentecostalism: The Rufus Moseley Story

    Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Reader in Contemporary Christianity and Pentecostal Studies at the Universit...

    Steven Felix-Jager: Pentecostal Aesthetics