Category Archives: Carl Trueman

“The second­-century world is, in a sense, our world” by Carl Trueman

“It is appropriate that Christians who acknowledge that they have a religion that is both rooted in historical events and transmitted through history via the church ask whether there is an age that provides precedent for the one in which we live.

Nostalgic Roman Catholics might point to the high medieval period, when the papacy was powerful and Thomas Aqui­nas’s thought offered a comprehensive synthesis of Christian doctrine. Protestants might look back to the Reformation, when the Scripture principle galvanized reform of the church.

But neither period is truly a plausible model for the present. The pope is not about to become the unquestioned head of some united world church to whom secular princes all look for spiritual authority; Thomism is not about to unify the field of knowledge; and the Reformation unleashed religious choice on the world in a manner that meant the Reformation itself could never again occur in such a form.

If there is a precedent, it is earlier: the second century.

In the second century, the church was a marginal sect within a domi­nant, pluralist society. She was under suspicion not because her central dogmas were supernatural but rather because she appeared subversive in claiming Jesus as King and was viewed as immoral in her talk of eating and drinking human flesh and blood and expressing incestuous­ sounding love between brothers and sisters.

This is where we are today. The story told in parts 2 through 4 of this book indicates how a pluralist society has slowly but surely adop­ted beliefs, particularly beliefs about sexuality and identity, that render Christianity immoral and inimical to the civic stability of society as now understood.

The second­-century world is, in a sense, our world, where Christianity is a choice—and a choice likely at some point to run afoul of the authorities.

It was that second­-century world, of course, that laid down the foun­dations for the later successes of the third and fourth centuries. And she did it by what means?

By existing as a close­-knit, doctrinally-bounded community that required her members to act consistently with their faith and to be good citizens of the earthly city as far as good citizenship was compatible with faithfulness to Christ.

How we do that today and where the limits are—these are the pressing questions of this present moment and beyond the scope of this volume. But it is a discussion to which I hope the narratives and analyses I have offered here might form a helpful prolegomenon.”

–Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 406-407.

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“The task of the Christian is not to whine about the moment” by Carl Trueman

“This book is not a lament for a lost golden age or even for the parlous state of culture as we now face it. Lamentation is popular in many conservative and Christian circles, and I have indulged in it a few times myself.

No doubt the Ciceronian cry “O tempora! O mores!” has its therapeutic appeal in a therapeutic time like ours, whether as a form of Pharisaic reassurance that we are not like others, such as those in the LGBTQ+ movement, or as a means of convincing ourselves that we have the special knowledge that allows us to stand above the petty enchantments and superficial pleasures of this present age.

But in terms of positive action, lamentation offers little and delivers less. As for the notion of some lost golden age, it is truly very hard for any competent historian to be nostalgic.

What past times were better than the present? An era before antibiotics when childbirth or even minor cuts might lead to septicemia and death?

The great days of the nineteenth century when the church was culturally powerful and marriage was between one man and one woman for life but little children worked in factories and swept chimneys?

Perhaps the Great Depression? The Second World War? The era of Vietnam?

Every age has had its darkness and its dangers. The task of the Christian is not to whine about the moment in which he or she lives but to understand its problems and respond appropriately to them.”

–Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 29-30.

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“The intercession of Christ” by Carl Trueman

“When we turn to the intercession of Christ at the Father’s right hand in the present age, we must not think of Christ as somehow begging, cajoling, or bribing the Father to be merciful.

Rather, we should think of the heavenly session of Christ as involving the mutual delight of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the accomplished work of the Incarnate God and as rejoicing in the great work of salvation.

The Father does not hear the Son’s intercessions unwillingly or impatiently; He takes pleasure in hearing the Son and in granting His requests, for in a very real sense the intercessions of the Son are the deepest intentions of the Father as well.

The very presence before Him of the Son with His wounded hands and side is a source of immeasurable satisfaction, pleasure and joy. This should fill believers with confidence as they pray.

We need no intermediary other than that which we already have in God Incarnate.”

–Carl Trueman, “Seated at the Right Hand of the Father,” Reformation21. As cited on: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/05/seated-at-the-right-hand-of-th.php (Accessed May 9, 2011).

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“The gospel is for Christians too” by Carl Trueman

“Let us never forget that the gospel is for Christians too. We need to hear the Word preached to us, whether from the pulpit on a Sunday or in conversation with other believers. If a brother or sister is mourning, then let us not simply tell them that the death of their loved one is all within the will of God.

Let us not even stop with simply feeling compassion and sympathy for them. Let us also point them to the Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. Death is an outrage, an illegitimate boundary. It is nasty and brutish. But the captain of our salvation has burst through that boundary and come out on the other side.

He is risen from the grave. And in His resurrection we see that, though we live in a vale of tears and agony here and now, where death seems to hold all the trump cards, there is a day most certainly coming when we know that we too, and all the loved ones who have gone before us in Christ, will rise to be with Christ.

His death was agonizing but it could not hold Him. Ours will no doubt be terrible and traumatic. But because of Christ, death will not hold us either.”

–Carl F. Trueman, “Death, the Final Boundary,” in Minority Report: Unpopular Thoughts on Everything From Ancient Christianity to Zen-Calvinism (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2008), 202.

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“What can miserable Christians pray?” by Carl R. Trueman

“You will find in the Psalms that there is not a single emotion which you feel which the Lord Himself has not given us the words to express to Him in prayer and praise. Learn to pray the Psalms in private, for there you find the resources to cope with the day of death and darkness.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The neglect of the Psalter in public Christian worship lays the groundwork for pastoral disaster: it has the effect of shortchanging the brokenhearted when they come to God in the company of their brothers and sisters on the Lord’s Day. Miserable Christians have every right, and indeed really must, express their misery to God in prayer and praise.

To prevent them from doing so is an act of pastoral cruelty. And isn’t it wonderful that we have such a God as the one who condescended in love and grace towards broken humanity to give us the Psalms for these very times of darkness? Let’s not neglect them; let’s use them as much as we can, in private prayer and in public worship.”

–Carl F. Trueman, “Death, the Final Boundary,” in Minority Report: Unpopular Thoughts on Everything From Ancient Christianity to Zen-Calvinism (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2008), 201-202.

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“You need to be there” by Carl R. Trueman

“Church involvement is absolutely critical for any healthy Christian life because it constitutes a basic reality check. Most Christians spend their weeks surrounded by people who are not Christians, being exposed to ideas, images, and values which are antithetical to Christianity which sell us myths as if they were reality, which teach us that madness is sanity and sanity is madness. Time spent with brothers and sisters in Christ on the Lord’s Day is thus time spent resetting your moral, spiritual, and intellectual bearings.

Whether you are a banker being tempted to greed by life during the week or a New Testament PhD student being bombarded with scholarship that mocks God’s word in the classroom from Monday to Friday, meeting with the people of God, singing his word, hearing his word read and preached and, indeed, meeting with the Triune in the awesome context of a worship service, is vital to your well-being.

You need to be there; and in nearly two decades of teaching, I have never yet met a student who messes up badly at an intellectual level who did not first mess up at an ecclesiastical level, whether through wrong choice of fellowship or no choice of fellowship at all. Put simply: if you are not involved in a church, then do not look for sympathy when your life leaves the rails and dives into a ditch.”

–Carl R. Trueman, “Minority Report: A Question of Accountability,” Themelios 34.2 (2009): 158-161. Available online here.

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“Advice to seminarians and PhD students” by Carl R. Trueman

“The simple way for theological students to resist both the temptation to pontificate beyond their pay grade and the temptation to pride and the moral and intellectual problems that inevitably come in its wake-fall is to find the proper context for accountability, to find their true home; and the good news is that this true home is easy to find—simply join an orthodox, gospel-believing and proclaiming church as member, submit to the elders, attend the corporate worship services, fellowship with the saints on a regular basis, get involved in the day to day work of the local body, even if it is ‘only’ the cleaning rota (and, hey, worshipping in a dirty church quickly reveals how important that is), and pursue a disciplined life of private devotion.”

–Carl R. Trueman, “Minority Report: A Question of Accountability,” Themelios 34.2 (2009): 158-161. Available online here.

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