Warning the zealous theologian

This little 40-page booklet is Thielicke's prologue to formal theological study, given as a warning about the temptations such study bring to a student's soul. I loved it. Here are some of the best excerpts.

On the difference between knowledge and maturity.
"There is a hiatus between the arena of the young theologian's actual spiritual growth and what he already knows intellectually about this arena. So to speak, he has been fitted, like a country boy, with breeches that are too big, into which he must still grow up in the same way that one who is to be confirmed must also still grow into the long trousers of the Catechism. Meanwhile, they hang loosely around his body, and this ludicrous sight of course is not beautiful." (pg 10)

On the disease of pride
"In us men truth and love are seldom combined.... [We think] I am... more than the other man who does not know this and that.... In his reflective detachment the theologian feels himself superior to those who, in their personal relationship to Christ, completely pass over the problems of the historical Jesus or demythologizing [or Calvinism vs. Arminianism, etc.] This disdain is a real spiritual desease" (pg 16-18).

On science not proving faith, but being used IN faith
"In no way can there be anything like scientific co-operation [reason, archaeology, logic, etc.] as a support or exoneration of faith, but that every theological effort is bound up with the act of faith itself" (pg 24).

On speaking about Him, instead of TO Him
"The first time someone spoke of God in the third person and therefore no longer with God but about God was that very moment when the question resounded, 'Did God really say?' This fact ought to make us think. In contrast with this, the crucified Jesus, out of the uttermost darkness of abandonment by God, does not speak to men, does not complain about this God who has abandoned Him. He speaks to Him at this very moment - in the second person. He addresses Him as My God and even expresses His complaint in a word of God" (pg 34).

On the deeper right than being right
"Theology... can be sacred theology or diabolical theology. That depends upon the hands and hearts which further it. But which of the two it is cannot necessarily be seen by the fact that in one case it is orthodox and in the other heretical. I don't believe that God is a fussy faultfinder in dealing with theological ideas. He who provides forgiveness for a sinful life will also surely be a generous judge of theological reflections. Even an orthodox theologian can be spiritually dead, while perhaps a heretic crawls on forbidden bypaths to the sources of life (pg 37)."

On Scriptural ballast in theology
"A person who pursues theological courses is spiritually sick unless he reads the Bible uncommonly often..." (pg 40).

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