I have heard it said that some men love theology more than they love God. Do not let it be possible to say that of you. Love theology of course: but love theology for no other reason than that it is THEOLOGY—the knowledge of God—and because it is your meat and drink to know God, to know Him truly, and as far as it is given to mortals, to know Him whole.
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851–1921) served as professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary for almost thirty-five years. He was one of the greatest theologians of his era, a polymath who seemed to find time to read everything. In September 1903, he delivered an address to the incoming class at Princeton Seminary titled “Spiritual Culture in the Theological Seminary.” This address was later published in pamphlet form and is now available in volume 2 of his Selected Shorter Writings.
As a professor of theology, Warfield knew, as well as anyone could know, the particular dangers associated with the study of theology. He knew that students of theology could begin to treat God as an object to be dissected on the lab table of theological debate. He knew that after thousands of pages of reading, students could become weary of contemplating the things of God. He also knew that theology itself could become an idol. He knew that our love of talking and thinking about God could replace the love of God Himself. He knew that men could love theology more than they love God.
Warfield’s warning is as relevant today as it was in 1903. It remains especially relevant for Reformed theologians and Reformed theologians in training. As Reformed Christians, we have a reputation as loving to study theology, to talk about theology, and to argue about theology. We love theology. We love theological books, theological journals, theological conferences, and theological theologians.