I have been reading a lot of Andreas Kostenberger lately. I am very impressed by his heart for God and precise scholarship. His latest work, Excellence: The Character of God and the Portrait of Scholarly Virtue is a fine addition to his growing body of Christian writing.
Kostenberger begins by laying the foundation for excellence by appealing to the character of God. Indeed, “the character of God is the grounds of all human excellence.” He continues, “Excellence starts and ends with God and is first and foremost a hallmark and attribute of God. Without God as our starting point and continual frame of reference, our discussion of excellence would be hopelessly inadequate.”
The author builds his case for pursuing excellence by pointing readers to God’s Word which demands excellence (2 Pet. 1:3). The imperative is clearly rooted in God’s glory and excellence and motivates believers to do everything with God’s glory in mind (1 Cor. 10:31). He rightly argues, “Mediocrity and sloppy scholarship never glorify God. Christians must strive for excellence – including, and especially, in pursuing their scholarly calling.” Effective Christian ministry is the result of pursuing excellence.
The aim of the book is to “identify, describe, and encourage those virtues that are essential to fulfilling a specific call to glorify God by pursuing excellence in Christian scholarship.” Kostenberger achieves his goal as the book unfolds. The remaining sections deal with vocational excellence, moral excellence, and relationship excellence.
No stone is unturned in this superb work. Excellence should be required reading for every Christian student entering the University or Seminary. It strikes the necessary balance and clearly outlines the kind of personal godliness and scholarship that is mandated in Scripture. Excellence is a much needed tonic in an age characterized by slopping thinking and shoddy work habits. It is sure to make a difference in the life of anyone who has the courage to read it.