Anticipation abounds as we are about to embark on a new year of education here at DBTS. God has given us a wonderful new group of incoming MDiv students, and we are looking forward eagerly to the first classes tomorrow morning. At the beginning of each year, I am reminded of the powerful words of B.B. Warfield, who recognized the enormity of the educational and spiritual task before his students. I will reproduce the first paragraph of his excellent speech, with the hope that it will whet your appetite to click through to the full speech:
I am asked to speak to you on the religious life of the student of theology. I approach the subject with some trepidation. I think it the most important subject which can engage our thought. You will not suspect me, in saying this, to be depreciating the importance of the intellectual preparation of the student for the ministry. The importance of the intellectual preparation of the student for the ministry is the reason of the existence of our Theological Seminaries. Say what you will, do what you will, 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 minister 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: not 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.