“The Religious Life of Theological Students” by B. B. Warfield

“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… 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, and inflections, and connections in sentences…

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! Do you know what this danger is? Or, rather, let us turn the question- Are you alive to what your privileges are? Are you making full use of them? Are you, by this constant contact with divine things, growing in holiness, becoming every day more and more men of God? If not, you are hardening!

And I am here today to warn you to take seriously your theological study, not merely as a duty, done for God’s sake and therefore made divine, but as a religious exercise, itself charged with religious blessing to you; as fitted by its very nature to fill all your mind and heart and soul and life with divine thoughts and feelings and aspirations and achievements.”

Benjamin B. Warfield, “The Religious Life of Theological Students.” Originally an address delivered by Warfield at the Autumn Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary on October 4, 1911. Reprinted in The Master’s Seminary Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, (Fall 1995), pp. 181-95.

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