Wise warnings from two sages for academics (OR a cautionary tale to those who seek to love God with all their mind)


I wish this wasn't convicting.

Beware of the seduction of applause. This can come from at least two directions. First: it can come from an academic direction. It becomes more important to be thought learned, than to be learned. The respect of peers who write erudite journal articles becomes more immediately pressing than the Lord’s approval. Obviously there’s no grace in simply irritating academic colleagues—in confusing contending for the faith with being contentious about the faith. Yet if it becomes more important to you to be established by O[xford] U[niversity] P[ress] or C[ambridge] U[niversity] P[ress] than to be absolutely straight with the Gospel, if you shy away from some topics for no other reason than the fact that those topics are unpopular in your guild, you are in the gravest spiritual danger.

–D.A. Carson (lecture: “Reflections on Life and Ministry”, 4–23–09)

Lewis also adds to this:

[…] you have met the phenomenon of an Inner Ring. You discovered one in your house at school before the end of the first term. And when you had climbed up to somewhere near it by the end of your second year, perhaps you discovered that within the ring there was a Ring yet more inner, which in its turn was the fringe of the great school Ring to which the house Rings were only satellites. […] You were beginning, in fact, to pierce through the skins of an onion.  […] And I can assure you that in whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business, or college you arrive after going down, you will find the Rings […] I am not going to say that the existence of Inner Rings is an Evil. It is certainly unavoidable. […] But the desire which draws us into Inner Rings is another matter. A thing may be morally neutral and yet the desire for that thing may be dangerous. […] Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things. […] The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. […]

And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.

– C.S. Lewis (Inner Circle, excerpts taken from here).

Childlike amusement and innocence: be true to what intrigues you

"Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, putting aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, let us run with patient endurance the race that has been set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12.1–2; LEB)