I write this in Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology (p. 283, numbering added):
Pitting doctrine against devotion is a false dichotomy because God intends them to go together. They are not mutually exclusive; one without the other is incomplete.
[Note 199] Warfield strikes an outstanding balance in five articles reprinted in his Selected Shorter Writings , 2 vols., ed. J. E. Meeter (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1970, 1973), listed here chronologically:
- “Authority, Intellect, Heart,” 2:668–71;
- “The Indispensableness of Systematic Theology to the Preacher,” 2:280–8;
- “Spiritual Culture in the Theological Seminary,” 2:468–96;
- “The Religious Life of Theological Students,” 1:411–25;
- “The Purpose of the Seminary,” 1:374–8.
Those five articles by B. B. Warfield profoundly influenced me when I was in seminary. Hugely helpful and motivating.
Here’s a sample from “The Religious Life of Theological Students” (1:411–12):
The ministry is a “learned profession”; and the man without learning, no matter with what other gifts he may be endowed, is unfit for its duties. But learning, though indispensable, is not the most indispensable thing for a minister. “Apt to teach”—yes, the ministry must be “apt to teach”; and observe that what I say—or rather what Paul says—is “apt to teach.” Not apt merely to exhort, to beseech, to appeal, to entreat; nor even merely, to testify, to bear witness; but to teach. And teaching implies knowledge: he who teaches must know. Paul, in other words, requires of you, as we are perhaps learning not very felicitously to phrase it, “instructional,” not merely “inspirational,” service. But aptness to teach alone does not make a minister; nor is it his primary qualification. It is only one of a long list of requirements which Paul lays down as necessary to meet in him who aspires to this high office. And all the rest concern, not his intellectual, but his spiritual fitness. A minister must be learned, on pain of being utterly incompetent for his work. But before and above being learned, a minister must be godly.
Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another. Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs. Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. “What!” is the appropriate response, “than ten hours over your books, on your knees?” Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God? If learning and devotion are as antagonistic as that, then the intellectual life is in itself accursed, and there can be no question of a religious life for a student, even of theology. . . . Just because you are students of theology, it is understood that you are religious men—especially religious men, to whom the cultivation of your religious life is a matter of the profoundest concern—of such concern that you will wish above all things to be warned of the dangers that may assail your religious life, and be pointed to the means by which you may strengthen and enlarge it. In your case there can be no “either-or” here—either a student or a man of God. You must be both.
I was delighted to read a section entitled “Warfield the Affectionate Theologian” when I arrived at the end of this book (pp. 567–70):
Zaspel nails it when he describes Warfield as “a theologian of the heart” (p. 568).
He will surrender neither doctrine nor experience. There is no genuinely Christian experience apart from truth, and it is this depth of Christian experience that characterizes Warfield throughout his writings. If he argues for an inerrant Bible, it is to find in it certain truth about the God whom we can trust. If he explores the mysteries of the Trinity, it is to deepen worship. If he argues for the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, he finds in it cause for praise and comfort and assurance. If he argues for a clear understanding of the two natures of Christ, it is to rest in a uniquely qualified Redeemer and to know and glory in the greatness of his condescending love; only an informed reflection on the redeeming grace of the incarnation “more ardently kindles the affection of faith.” If he argues against Pelagian and Arminian and for Calvinistic views of humanity and salvation, it is to heighten our sense of dependence upon and appreciation for divine grace and thereby cultivate piety that is distinctly and thoroughly Christian. If he argues for justification by faith, it is because in no other place can the conscience find rest and be at peace with God and enjoy fellowship with him. When he reads the narrative of Jesus’ trials, he highlights not simply the evil of humanity as displayed in Pilate, the priests, and the mob; rather, he adores the contrasting perfections of the One they condemn. For Warfield the academic study of Scripture is to be not only a means to minister to others but also “a religious exercise out of which you draw every day enlargement of heart, elevation of spirit, and adoring delight in your Maker and your Savior.” . . .
He was, in his heart of hearts, a sinner rescued by divine grace, and it is this consideration that seems to have driven both his devotional life and his polemic endeavors. (pp. 569–70)