First Things also has an entry on the declining fortunes of the American Rabbinate. (scroll down about 7/8ths or keep reading for the relevant excerpt).
The entry has some relation, though imperfect, to our own Church and our own intellectual striving.
Here’s the relevant quote:
“A blow from a different direction came with the growth of Jewish studies in colleges and universities around the country. In a matter of decades, a whole new cadre of professionals had begun to compete with congregational rabbis as certified interpreters of Jewish texts and culture. In this competition, the title of professor inevitably outranked that of rabbi. To add to the discomfort, younger Jews joining synagogues did not share their parents’ and grandparents’ awe of the rabbi’s learning. Many of them boasted advanced degrees of their own, and felt no need for anyone to mediate between themselves and ‘the mysteries’ of Western culture.”
We obviously have a different model of authority than the rabbis mentioned. Our bishops can preside in learned innocence, as long as they have been “called of God, by … those who are in authority.” But we do respect learning. Some of us on this blog, myself included, may even want to open the church to more respect for secular learning. The dangers are apparent.
The only way, I think, to take full advantage of learning, without setting the Ivory Tower as an alternate authority to the Temple, is to humbly and frequently acknowledge the priority of revelation.
A bit ago we had a debate on Book of Mormon geography. Nate and I arrayed ourselves on the side of the text itself and the scholarly conclusions from that text. Kaimi took the side of numerous prophets and General Authorities.
Now, I didnt’ feel bad being opposite those spiritual authorites because I don’t see that they’ve ever considered the issue and sought guidance on it. As far as I can tell, the whole bit about the Book of Mormon happening all over America is just an assumption that never got thought through. But I should have been more clear that I was more wed to Christ and the Church than to my conclusions.