As you embark on your journey this year in seminary, whether its your first year or (like me) your last, you’re standing at the threshold of a new chapter in your life. The decision to pursue theological education is a significant one, filled with excitement, anticipation, and perhaps a touch of apprehension. However, it’s important to remember that you are not the first to tread this path. Throughout history, many dedicated Christians have walked this road before you, leaving behind a legacy of faith, wisdom, and devotion. Two such figures who continue to inspire and instruct seminarians today are John Calvin and Charles H. Spurgeon.
And rather than give you some weighty explanation of how dedicated they were to learning the biblical languages or how they preached their sermons or studied history, i though that In this first blog post of the year, I’d touch on things that every Christian should do and that, as theologians in training, we should submit to doing even more. And so, we will explore the importance of learning from the dedication to prayer and Bible reading exhibited by these renowned theologians as you begin your year in seminary.
1. The Foundation of Faith: Prayer
One of the most crucial aspects of Christian life and ministry is prayer. John Calvin, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation and our schools namesake, understood the significance of prayer in his own life and ministry. He once said, “Without prayer, the church cannot stand firm and persevere in doctrine and faith.”
Calvin’s dedication to prayer was not a mere formality; it was the foundation upon which he built his theological framework. As you tackle seminary, take a cue from Calvin’s commitment to prayer. Make it a priority to set aside time daily for communion with God. Seek His guidance, wisdom, and understanding as you delve into the depths of theology and Scripture.
2. The Illuminating Power of Scripture
The Bible is the cornerstone of Christian faith and theology. Charles H. Spurgeon, often referred to as the “Prince of Preachers,” had an unwavering commitment to the study and proclamation of God’s Word. He famously said, “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed.”
As you begin your year of studies, let Spurgeon’s words resonate with you. Dive deep into the Scriptures. Approach your study of the Bible with humility, recognizing that there is always more to learn and discover. Let the Word of God be the lamp that guides your theological pursuits, and may it continually illuminate your understanding. If you never finish a single assigned reading but you plumbed the depth of the Bible in ways you previously couldn’t have imagined, that’s a win (that may be an unpopular opinion amongst the professors, but I imagine it brings God glory).
3. Balancing Knowledge and Devotion
One of the challenges of seminary life is striking a balance between academic rigor and spiritual devotion. Both Calvin and Spurgeon exemplified this equilibrium. They were theologians of remarkable intellect, yet their hearts burned with love for God and His people.
Remember that theological education is not solely about acquiring knowledge; it’s about cultivating a deeper relationship with God and preparing to serve His church. Strive for excellence in your studies, but never lose sight of the ultimate purpose – to glorify God and edify His people.
4. Embracing Tradition and Innovation
While John Calvin and Charles H. Spurgeon lived in different eras, their legacies continue to shape the Christian world today. As you begin your seminary journey, or get back into the rhythm for another year of progress towards completing seminary, recognize the importance of learning from the theological giants of the past, while also embracing innovation and contemporary insights.
As you embark on your year in seminary, you stand on the shoulders of giants. Their dedication to prayer, their love for Scripture, and their unwavering faith in God continue to inspire and guide aspiring theologians and ministers.
Make it your goal to learn from these devout Christians, not merely by studying their works but by embodying their commitment to prayer, their reverence for the Bible, and their passion for God’s glory. In doing so, you will be well-prepared to navigate the challenges and opportunities that await you on your theological journey, ensuring that your new beginnings in seminary are deeply rooted in the faith of “old Calvinists”.
Sinner | Saint | Servant