Yesterday, Dr. Michael Haykin wrote a nice reflection on leaving Toronto, where he has taught for 25 years, for Southern Seminary. In his article, Dr. Haykin leaves a passionate word of exhortation to the people in the province of Toronto–an exhortation that I believe is something we all need to hear. Below is the latter portion of his article, and I submit it here for our reflection and (perhaps) discussion.
Thinking of a move, as I have noted above, has not been easy. I love Ontario and I know, after twenty-five years of teaching in this province, the great need we have for solid theological education. In a word, the churches need a school that is deeply committed to orthodoxy, yet fully in touch with the culture. Not an easy thing to be.
All too often, it is one or the other: conversant with the culture and out of step with Scriptural realities, or rooted in biblical orthodoxy but fighting old battles that most people no longer remember. As Luther is reported to have once said: if we are fighting and skirmishing where the enemy is not attacking, we are failing to truly fight the war.
And more than ever I believe we need to be committed to networking and the need to labour alongside those who stand for the same core truths that we love. The absolute independency that some in this province prize is, in my opinion, the high road to impotency. To be sure, if we need to stand alone when others are caving in to theological error and the passing fads of theologia, then stand alone we must. Dare to be a Daniel, as we have long sung. But all too often this translates into a pettiness and a refusal to work with others unless they see utterly everything our way. Without sacrificing theological integrity we need to find essentially like-minded brothers and sisters and labour side by side.
Then, we have to be willing to show genuine humility and consider others’ needs. The time is long past when we could fight turf wars in our churches when all around us people are going to hell! If changes must be made to ecclesial structures for the sake of the Kingdom, then let’s make them.
Finally, we need genuine vision for what God can do here and so move beyond the malaise of Canadian character that all too often afflicts the churches here and is slow to seek greatness: expecting great things from God, we must attempt great things for his Kingdom.
Could this not also be said of us while at seminary? Are we living too independent lives, standing along, and expecting others to “see utterly everything our way?”