In Defense of Christian Basics
Mike PohlmanMike Pohlman's Blog
- 2009 Apr 27
In the latest edition of Themelios, the online journal of The Gospel Coalition, Carl Trueman has an excellent little essay exhorting us to remember the basics of the Christian life. To make his point Trueman recalls the treatise on prayer Martin Luther wrote to his barber Peter. Here's an excerpt from Trueman's work:
This is where the rub is for most students of theology. Protestant evangelicalism is a religion of the book. Its very literary focus lends itself to academic ambition, and such is not bad in itself. Christian theologians, like Christian footballers or Christian bank managers, are called upon to be the best they can be in their chosen calling, but when intellectual excellence becomes an end in itself, at least two unfortunate consequences follow. First, we lose sight of the basics, the very things that are the meat and drink of the Christian life, both in terms of theology and practice. This is where things like catechisms and the regular discipline of church attendance are so important for students of theology. Second, we lose sight of who is and who is not important: we crave the approval of those who despise God’s word or who use that word simply as a means of self-promotion, and we look down our noses at the Peter the Barbers of this world. Human wisdom comes to supplant divine foolishness, and as any reader of 1 Corinthians knows, divine foolishness is infinitely wiser than the greatest human wisdom.
Sage counsel not only for students of theology, but for all thoughtful Christians that long to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
[See Luther's essay, "Luther the Confessional Theologian: A Practical Way to Pray (1535)," in Luther's Basic Theological Writings ed. William R. Russell and Timothy F.Lull.]