My summary of “A little exercise for young theologians” – Helmut Thielicke

 (Some of it is in my own words, sorry if I distort the original meaning)
The lay people in church seldom recognizes or trusts the work of academic theology. Problem is academic theologians also seldom empathize with ordinary working people.
The number one criticism for theological students is their use of specialized words (jargon). Today, the soul of a theological student is in great danger.
Theology must never be separated from life.
The ordinary people in your church are concerned for your spiritual health, and rightly so. In many cases, a person before entering theological school teaches and preaches the Bible in a lively manner, because a lively faith will produce life. After some time in theological school, he may learn to speak with specialized theological words. But his once lively faith is now dead, and he preaches and teaches worst than if he had never been to study theology.
The theological student is still growing. There is a gap between his own spiritual growth and what he knows in concept. All he has learned is just second-hand knowledge, he has not experienced it first-hand.
This is spiritual puberty. Do not let theological students in this stage teach or preach.
Theological students who think they are one-up on the layperson, who doesn’t know so much theology, will develop pride. He/she will speak technical theological words that lay people do not understand. In so doing they extinguish the flame of passion in the ordinary person in the church who sincerely wants to learn about God. There is no trace of life or truths learned by experience in these students. Just corpses of dead ideas.
Theological students, restrain yourselves from your theological concepts!
Theology makes the young theologian proud. The chief reason is that truth and love are seldom combined.
Truth learned in theology makes us think, ‘I know this, I learned that, I understand it. Knowledge is power. So I am better than those people that don’t know.’
Love is the opposite of that. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is humble.
Thinking that you are superior to others who know less, is a spiritual disease.
Do not ever use the truth to make other people look stupid or helpless. Remember as Christians, we are called to love. We are to speak the truth in love. Build others up, never tear others down.
The church has the right to question us, even if they don’t fully understand what we study.
They ask us these questions, because they are concerned about our Christian faith. They want to know if our faith is sound or not. The church is our pastor.
Take their questions seriously.
Maintain a lively dialogue with the ordinary people in your church.
All theological ideas are a challenge to your faith. Don’t believe whatever some great theologian has said, otherwise you may be believing in Luther or your teacher, rather than in Jesus Christ.
Even good, right theology is a threat to your personal faith. It must never remained just as head knowledge. It must be experienced.
Everything you learn must build on your personal relationship with God. It cannot just remain as some head knowledge about God.
Always ask yourself, “What is God saying to me?” and think how you would reply to God. We must refer to God as You, rather than Him. I must say “God, You are my God.”
We must be listening and praying theological students. We need to have a living, real faith that is centered on reading the Bible with passion, praying, and to live in close association with other Christians.
Read your Bible as often as you can. Preach and teach the Word as often as you have opportunity, focusing on Jesus’ salvation.

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