Thielicke’s book, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, has many big ideas contained in its small pages. As a theologian speaking to other theologians (though I would not consider myself in that category), his words resonate. He warns that theology can indeed be a threat to us. It can actually cause us to sin if we are not careful; we can become prideful and divisive.
In seminary, we get our three semesters of Systematic Theology, and we become pedantic and sesquipedalian, with our ‘prolegomenon’ and ‘eschatological’ vocabulary words floating around. But are we better for it? Do we have changed lives?
What a great reminder Thielicke gives us!
Our focus should be on God and his Glory. I need to remember this in my own life, especially as I write and preach. I must remind myself of why I do what I do. I am not here for the acclaim or a title, but to learn and to serve and to proclaim the Gospel.
I could go on about all the various lessons I have learned from Thielicke’s book, but what stands out most to me is his statement that we should view every new idea as a challenge to our faith.
He says if we latch on to the ideas of others, we can become their disciples rather than Jesus’s. This idea seemed overstated to me at first, but the more I think about it, the more it rings true in my heart. How often I have been caught up with some new craze or fad, religious though it may be. Thielicke calls me to a higher standard, a place of total allegiance.
All other ideas and theories must become secondary to Christ and his teachings. I am his first and foremost. Ecclesiastes echoes Thielicke’s sentiments when it talks about how there is no end to the writing of books. By this, I believe it means there seems to be no end to new ideas and new comments and commentaries, but Thielicke reminds us only God’s word remains. I should be devoted solely to God and his ideas.
Thielicke, H. (1999). A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Eerdmans.