Review by Nathan Lugbill
“Wait, you’re in seminary? What would make you want to attend cemetery, er, I mean seminary?” So said a pastor when my friend mentioned he was in grad school studying for pastoral ministry. This sentiment is common. Seminary is dangerous. It can turn the Word of God into a textbook and zealous disciples into pompous eggheads. To be fair, these critics have probably seen a tragic irony play out: seminary, the very tool intended to bolster faith and love for God, can create cold, listless hearts.
But, David Mathis (MDiv, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando) and Jonathan Parnell (MDiv, Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis) argue, this need not be! Yes, seminary can be spiritually dangerous, even in orthodox, evangelical, confessional schools. But the root problem is not the institution; rather, it’s the sinful heart of every seminarian whose affection for God struggles to keep pace with his fast-growing knowledge. How to Stay Christian in Seminary equips seminarians to approach their training with open eyes and warm hearts. When done right, seminary can in fact reignite love for God and zeal for his glory.
How can this happen? By giving careful, ongoing attention to the source of the problem: the heart. For the seminarian who prizes communion with God and intimacy with Christ, greater knowledge can result in deeper affection for him and more faithful Christian living.
David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell. How to Stay Christian in Seminary. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 80 pp. $7.99.