Carl Trueman on How to Keep One’s Soul in the Academy

A powerful exhortation by Carl Trueman to theological students to cling to the local church from the most recent Themelios:

The temptation for a theological student at this point, of course, is to make the obvious answer to this: well, I study the things of God all day long; I am hardly likely to forget about God, who he is and what he has done, am I? Well, there is forgetting and there is forgetting. Remembering that there is a train that leaves the local station every evening at five o’clock is one thing; remembering that I need to be on it to return home to be there for my wife’s surprise birthday party is quite another. It is all too easy for the theological student to end up remembering God as an object of knowledge; it is quite another thing to remember him as the all-surpassing subject of existence.

This is why church is vitally important. OK, long-standing readers of Themelios know what is coming next: Trueman’s pitch for seeing the local church as the necessary context for the Christian life, not least for those called to study theology at the highest level. Well, here it comes; and just because I have said it before does not make it any less true or any less necessary to say it again. After all, some of you may—ahem—have forgotten the speech. As noted above, that’s what the Bible itself indicates as happening when predictable but important routines are abandoned or their content taken for granted.

These are challenging and needed words.  What sense does it make to study the Word in an academic setting if we lose our souls in the process?

And how are we to keep our souls, both as students and throughout the rest of our lives?  In the power of the Holy Spirit, by attending to the routine things of the Christian life in which are hid the pleasures of eternity.

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By the way, if any readers of this blog are going to the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in New Orleans and want to indulge their lifelong curiosity in all things Harold Ockenga, I’ll be presenting a paper in the Sheraton A3/303 tomorrow, Wednesday, November 18th, at 11am entitled “Harold Ockenga and the Neo-Evangelical Renaissance: Overview and Assessment.”


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