When it comes to major life change, you get a lot of free advice along the way. I’m not saying that is always a bad thing. It’s just what happens. I have been working towards starting seminary for some time now and have received a lot of wisdom along the way. Rarely do I refuse a good word from a friend. After all, they are trustworthy.
However, the longer it takes for the change of life to come about, the greater the chance that you will begin hearing the same advice repeated. And Brittany and I have had a strong feeling that this move was happening for a while. So when I happened across a caution from the Princeton theologian, B.B. Warfield, a couple of weeks ago that had never crossed my mind I perked up and took notice. Here is what he told his students in 1911 about studying theology:
(*Note – With the proliferation of information that we have in the modern-era internet age, this caution is true for all of us. Most of those that we consider “common believers” have enough information to teach a native of an under-privileged country all they will ever need to know about Scripture. So this is for you as well!)
We are frequently told, indeed, that the great danger of the theological student lies precisely in his constant contact with divine things. They may come to seem common to him because they are customary. As the average man breathes the air and basks in the sunshine without ever a thought that it is God in his goodness who makes his sun to rise on him, though he is evil, and sends rain to him, though he is unjust; so you may come to handle even the furniture of the sanctuary with never a thought above the gross earthly materials of which it is made. The words which tell you of God’s terrible majesty or of his glorious goodness may come to be mere words to you—Hebrew and Greek words, with etymologies, inflections and connections in sentences. The reasonings which establish to you the mysteries of his saving activities may come to be to you mere logical paradigms, with premises and conclusions, fitly framed, no doubt, and triumphantly cogent, but with no further significance to you than their formal logical conclusiveness. God’s stately steppings in his redemptive processes may become to you a mere series of facts of history, curiously interplaying to the production of social and religious conditions and pointing mayhap to an issue which we may shrewdly conjecture: but much like other facts occurring in time and space which may come to your notice. It is your great danger.
But it is your great danger only because it is your great privilege. Think of what your privilege is when your greatest danger is that the great things of religion may become common to you! Other men, oppressed by the hard conditions of life, sunk in the daily struggle for bread perhaps, distracted at any rate by the dreadful drag of the world upon them and the awful rush of the world’s work, find it hard to get time and opportunity so much as to pause and consider whether there be such things as God, and religion, and salvation from the sin that compasses them about and holds them captive. The very atmosphere of your life is these things; you breathe them in at every pore: they surround you, encompass you, press in upon you from every side. It is all in danger of becoming common to you! God forgive you, you are in danger of becoming weary of God!