‘Soul-Starving Tendencies’

One of the great dangers in (academically studying) theology is making our faith something we discuss rather than something that moves us. We lapse into this problem when we treat God as the mere object of the study rather than as the Lord we worship. Helmut Thielicke exposed this temptation in his delightful book ‘A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.’ He noticed that students of theology often developed soul-starving tendencies, such as the shift from reading the Bible in the ‘second person’ to the ‘third person,’ from seeing that it addresses them personally to treating it as an impersonal system of thought. ‘The transition from one to the other level of thought, from a personal relationship with God to a merely technical reference, usually is exactly synchronized with the moment that I no longer can read the word of Holy Scripture as a word to me, but only as the object of exegetical endeavors.’ Reading Scripture merely to to look for doctrinal proof texts or sermon illustrations, rather than as the blazing Word which is alive and active, kills our spirit. We should not ignore abuses of interpretation or neglect important hermeneutical practices, but at its most fundamental level, Scripture is God’s voice to his people, and by his Spirit we encounter a living, rather than a dead, letter.

Kelly M. Kapic ‘A Little Book for New Theologians’ (64-65)