Carl Trueman on Being a Christian Academic

Carl Trueman has an outstanding exhortation in the most recent issue of Themelios, and his remarks have a particular punch for academics:

“The title ‘scholar’ is not one that you should ever apply to yourself, and its current profusion among the chatterati on the blogs is a sign of precisely the kind of arrogance and hubris against which we all need to guard ourselves. Call me old-fashioned, but to me the word ‘scholar’ has an honorific ring. It is something that others give to you when, and only when, you have made a consistent and outstanding contribution to a particular scholarly field (and, no, completion of a Ph.D. does not count). To be blunt, the ability to set up your own blog site and having nothing better to do with your time than warble on incessantly about how clever you are and how idiotic are all those with whom you disagree—well, that does not actually make you eligible to be called a scholar. On the contrary, it rather qualifies you to be a self-important nincompoop, and the self-referential use of the title by so many of that ilk is at best absurd, at worst obnoxious.”

Amen to that. Read the rest of this one here.


  • mark

    that’s great.

    It is been irritating when / if (in certain circles) you qoute a few verses to make a point, and they say, “Well, I am no Bible Scholar…”. Uh, niether am I pal. I think people use the phrase as a mulligan for being biblically illiterate.

    Merry Christmas.

  • scott

    I hope Trueman’s comments about blogging are directed toward a specific group rather than a broadly sweeping and unnecessary generalization.

    If only we all could be professors at Westminster & publish in a “magazine.”

  • Ben

    I just don’t understand this incessant desire on the part of some evangelicals to try to control language. Not only is Dr. Trueman trying to do this with the word “scholar”, but Dr. Burk also participates in this activity (e.g., “narcissist” and “fundamentalist”).

    Dictionaries and conventions only tell us what words and concepts meant, and not what they mean. The fact that someone wants to reserve a word (e.g., scholar) because it may make them feel more distinguished should it be applied to them is controling and ignores how language works and develops over time. I can understand a personal wish for having certain words be reserved, and can even understand some mourning over the loss of certain conventions, but cannot understand why certain evangelical academicians love to ossify linguistics publicly.

    As to the issue of idiots having blogs – well, that’s another matter entirely, but I would argue idiots will always say too much (c.f., virtually all of Proverbs).

  • Ben

    D.J. (#7):

    I agree – Dr. Trueman is talking about “arrogance and hubris”, and I agree on that front. (My way of agreeing was to say that idiots will always have blogs, or even Ph.D.s. Hey, it made to me at the time…)

    While it may be picking a nit, I see his approach as being problematic – focusing on the word “scholar”.

    I appreciate your comment, though. We shouldn’t lose sight of the call to humility because we get derailed in an argument over linguistic theory. (Though a conversation over linguistic theory is probably warranted in another context.) It would probably be fair to say that such derailment would make Dr. Truemans’s point.

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