by Matt Pinson
A few years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Carl Trueman when we were on a panel together at Southern Seminary. While I disagree with some of what he says (politically as well as his Orthodox Presbyterian/Calvinist distinctives), when it comes to the need for a renaissance of confessional Protestant faith and practice in the contemporary world, I love to read what he writes.
I recently came across an article he wrote for Themelios about fifteen years ago, an excerpt from which I have cut and pasted below. What he said in this article reminded me a lot of some things he said in two other books I read by him a few years ago: the little book The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and the longer volume, The Creedal Imperative. Young (and old) evangelical scholars of all denominational traditions need to pay heed to what Trueman is contending for in these books and in this article.
Below is the excerpt from Trueman’s article “The Importance of Being Earnest: Approaching Theological Study” (Themelios 26 , pp. 45-46).
“I am not saying that we should not be aware of and interact with the best contemporary scholarship, the most thoughtful liberal theology, and the most sophisticated challenges to orthodoxy. My own historical heroes, Augustine, Aquinas, John Owen, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield and W.G.T. Shedd, to name but six, did all of these things; none of them felt the need to cut themselves off from the scholarly world; but they did not pursue orthodox theology for its own sake. They did so because they thought that such theology was faithful to the biblical text and was therefore of overwhelming importance both for themselves and for others. Don’t be fooled by those evangelicals who today spend their time praising the insights of liberals and non-evangelicals while trashing or mocking our evangelical forefathers for their intellectual peccadilloes. Make no mistake, God will be the ultimate judge of this contemporary evangelical tendency to turn a blind eye to great blasphemies in liberal theologians who happen to say the odd useful or orthodox thing, while excoriating evangelicals of the past for their mistakes. Too many gnats are strained out, while too many huge elephants are being swallowed whole. Our forefathers were not idiots; neither were they uncouth louts who responded with knee-jerk abuse and anger to any who disagreed with them; but neither were they prepared to play happy families with those whose theology was fundamentally opposed to the gospel. The issues at stake, issues after all, of eternal consequence, were, are, and always will be just too important to be reduced to intellectual parlour games or restricted by the protocols of academic diplomacy. Yes, interact with liberals in an informed and thoughtful manner – the church needs men and women for such a task; but please do not buy into the contemporary culture of evangelical academic protocol which leads only to a useless blurring of what is good with what is bad. Making unconditional peace with heresy should never be mistaken for a proper integration of faith and learning.”