As I explained in the original post, these pieces of advice come from “Reflections of a Lifetime Theologian” in Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John M. Frame. Reflecting back on his career in teaching and his life of ministry, he offers off the cuff in an interview 30 nuggets of advice.
Here’s the next 10:
#21: Don’t be one of those theologians who get excited about every new trend in politics, culture, hermeneutics, and even theology and who think we have to reconstruct our theology to go along with each trend. Don’t think you have to be a feminist, e.g., just because everybody else is. Most of the theologies that try to be culturally savvy are unbiblical.
#22: Be suspicious of all trendiness in theology. When everybody jumps on some theological bandwagon, whether narrative, feminism, redemptive history, natural law, liturgy, liberation, postmodernism, or whatever, that’s the time to awaken your critical faculties. Don’t jump on the bandwagon unless you have done your own study. When a theological trend comes along, ask reflexively, “What’s wrong with that?” There is always something wrong. Is simply is not the case that the newest is truest. Indeed, many new movements turn our to be false steps entirely.
#23: Our system of doctoral-level education requires “original thought,” but that can be hard to do, given that the church has been studying Scripture for thousands of years. You’ll be tempted to come up with something that sounds new (possibly by writing a thesis that isn’t properly theological at all in the sense mentioned here). Well do it; get it out of the way, and then come back to do some real theology.
#24: At the same time, don’t reject innovation simply because it is innovative. Even more, don’t reject an idea merely because it doesn’t sound like what you’re used to. Learn to distinguish the sound-look-feel of an idea from what it actually means.
#25: Be critical of arguments that turn on metaphors or extrabiblical technical terms. Don’t assume that each one has a perfectly clear meaning. Usually they do not.
#26: Learn to be skeptical of skeptics. Unbelieving and liberal scholars are as prone to error as anybody – in fact, more so.
#27: Respect your elders. Nothing is so ill-becoming as a young theologian who despises those who have been working in the field for decades. Disagreement is fine, as long as you acknowledge the maturity and the contributions of those you disagree with. Take 1 Timothy 5:1 to heart.
#28: Young theologians often imagine themselves as the next Luther, just as little boys imagine themselves as the next Peyton Manning or Kevin Garnett. When they’re too old to play cowboys and Indians, they want to play Luther and the Pope. When the real Pope won’t play with them, they pick on somebody else and say, “You’re it.” Look: most likely God has not chosen you to be the leader of a new Reformation. If he has, don’t take the exalted title “Reformer” upon yourself. Let others decide if that is really what you are.
#29: Decide early in your career (after some experimenting) what to focus on and what not to. When considering opportunities, it’s just as important (perhaps more so) to know when to say no as to know when to say yes.
#30: Don’t lose your sense of humor. We should take God seriously, not ourselves, and certainly not theology. To lose your sense of humor is to lose your sense of proportion. And nothing is more important in theology than a sense of proportion.