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How to Stay Christian in Seminary

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  286 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Seminary is exhilarating . . . and dangerous.

Seminary can be thrilling, with the potential to inspire and equip church leaders for a lifetime of faithful ministry. But it's not without its risks. For many who have ignored the perils, seminary has been crippling. But with an extra dose of intentionality, and God's help, this season of preparation can invigorate your affecti
Paperback, 80 pages
Published January 31st 2014 by Crossway Books
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Ryan Linkous
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Two-stars may give the perception this is a bad book. It is not a bad book, just not a great one. Here are my thoughts and summary.

Mathis and Parnell share their wisdom on important ways to remain spiritual vital throughout seminary, mainly: focus on Christ and the gospel, don't forget your need of the gospel, make sure to pray and read the Bible for devotion, and be a good husband. Many ideas are drawn from classic works such as "The Religious Life of Theological Students" (B.B. Warfield), A Li
Kaitlyn Pindak
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rereadable
This little book was very encouraging in how to continue to keep perspective, specifically in seminary, but in general of any/all things: knowing and loving and glorifying Christ is the goal!!!
scott meadows
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book would have been very useful either during seminary orientation or the first month of classes. Why no-one recommended it or the texts that it draws from, I do not know. While I am thankful to have stumbled upon the much shorter and better essays such as B. B. Warfield’s word to theological students, I found this book to be an effective “modernized” rendition of the old. If the Lord gives me an opportunity to mentor or befriend future generations of theological students, I will be sure t ...more
Samuel Kassing
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable and refreshing little book to read. It focuses in on personal piety and why it should shape your studies. In that regard it was a good book. I appreciated the chapter on prayer the most.
Alex Kearney
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Gospel-centered, Jesus-saturated, principled and practical exhortation for this incoming seminarian
Philip Mcduffie
I enjoyed this book. It had a great deal of practical application in it that was completely Gospel centered.
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The way to stay Christian in seminary is the same way you stay a Christian in life, by fixing your eyes on Jesus and staying a Christian every day.
Katelyn McGuffin
Mar 14, 2021 rated it did not like it
The title is a misnomer. Instead it should be titled "How to stay a Conservative Evangelical Complementarian Father in Seminary." This book is not written for me, even though I am a seminary student, because I am a woman. It did not take me until chapter 6, which is titled "Be a Real Husband and Dad" to notice, either. That entire chapter is demeaning to read as a wife, who is in seminary alongside her husband. Instead of "husband" the entire chapter could have been about "spouses" and "parents, ...more
Eric Michel
Aug 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
There are some truths in this book, but the authors have missed the mark and I understand that they couldn't give the true answer because it would invalidate most of their life's work. That, I understand.

Truly, the answer is to IMMEDIATELY LEAVE SEMINARY. 100% of seminaries and 99% of Bible colleges and institutes are designed to indoctrinate the student into the science of textual and biblical criticism. They teach the students to "go to the greek" and that there are errors in the King James B
Tyler Velin
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it
If you want seminarians to read your book, chum the water with names like Warfield, Frame, Carson, Flavel, Calvin and Vanhoozer. “How to Stay Christian in Seminary” by David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell draw you in with the footnotes seminarians love, but behind the veil of scholasticism lies a deeply practical and necessary message. I loved everything that was written in this book, it made my heart sing. But I was also disappointed in one huge gap I believe the authors left when it comes to “sta ...more
Ryan Tankersley
Wise and Short

This book is easy to sit down and read through. The author's keep the focus entirely on Jesus and guide you through some important practices to keep in mind.

Any Christian would benefit from this book. The wisdom given applies to any "season" of a person's life. It stays foundational, and reminds us of the beauty in keeping focused on daily enjoying our faith in God and the responsibilities he has given us.
C.J. Moore
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought it was helpful. Will definitely be most helpful for someone prior to their starting seminary, and that's what I'll use it for in later recommendations. Seems like the book could've simply been "How to Stay Christian," though - with a few details added specific to seminary students. I was hoping for more contextual application for seminary students than I got. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, since it makes the book's audience a bit wider. ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent devotions for new seminarians, or just for gaining perspective on the role of study and ministry in our lives as a whole. A pithy and wise little book that stirs our affections Godward in our studies. How great the temptations are to drift from cultivating our walk with the Lord as we study!
Julie Scrudato
May 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Loved this book and understand why it’s a necessary read when starting seminary— our head and our heart are taking in extremely complex theological concepts at wayyy different rates, and we need to remember the gospel, remember grace, stay near to God, and go back to the basics of sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I always enjoy most works in the genre of what to read as you are going to seminary. This work is brief, helpful, and to the point, which are its greatest advantages. The downside is that the wisdom in the book is perhaps a little too simplistic.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really good impactful short ready. As a seminary student this book hit home with me. It address the need to not lose focus of your personal walk with Christ while in seminary and covers so many aspects.
Kyle Grindberg
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
John Paul
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Can be read alongside Thielicke's and Kapic's short book for young theologians. Very practical. ...more
David Wright
Apr 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Some great encouragement to stay focused on the real thing, my walk with Jesus, while in seminary.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The timing of this book couldn't be better--this book fills a needed void in equipping students--of any discipline and level--on the disciplines (especially spiritual) that effectively puts education in its proper place: secondary to glorifying God and the health of personal faith. Coming in under 100-pages, HSXS is a quick read; I was able to read it in two sittings, totaling about 2 hours.

Aim of the book:
As the title suggests, Mathis and Parnell aim to: "help you be aware of the danger and app

Aaron Loy
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
The biggest fault of this book is that it's improperly titled. Like any good book, a title should best convey what the book is about. In this case, it doesn't. Upon completion of "How to Stay Christian in Seminary", I realized that the book SHOULD have been titled "Christian Principles for the Seminarian". The book never really delivers on the "How to" of the title. Instead of practical and implementable advice, it simply discusses PRINCIPLES that one should keep in mind while attending seminary ...more
Daniel Kleven
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
To quote John Frame (as they do, on page 19): "Seminary does require a devotional discipline to match our academic discipline." As a current seminary student, I've found this a helpful book toward cultivating that devotional discipline in the midst of my studies. It's short, so you can squeeze it in, especially at the beginning of a semester. It aims at cultivating wonder, crushing pride, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, prioritizing our wives and families, and diligence in prayer. They get what ...more
Shawn Paterson
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Both of these men write blog posts at that I consistently and thoroughly enjoy. I was eager to read this book as a Biblical Studies undergraduate student with Moody Bible Institute (online). It was a short book that I was able to read in a day—but one that I expect to read again often to remind me of my purpose and goal in my studies. This is a book I'd recommend to all Bible college students and seminary students—and it would make a great gift for anyone you know entering underg ...more
Benjamin Aurich
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Truth be told, I read it far too infrequently to give an accurate representation of the book. I did appreciate that the book was short and concise. It reads as a devotional reminder of our call as Christians in general, and students of the Word, more specifically. This would be an excellent book to read through on days when one is feeling particularly discouraged or defeated by their overwhelming circumstances. My prayer, both for myself, and those who read this, is that it will be an excellent ...more
Lily-joseph Jo
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It is a short book that I finished maybe in several hours but the content was great. The authors give many challenges and warnings about being a seminarian on the basis of experiences they had when they were seminarians. Among many great emphases, I took a challenge that I as seminarian should have a mission statement. I took that challenge seriously and the Lord gave me a good one for me to remind myself when I am distracted. Enjoyed the reading!
Adam Calvert
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this work. The authors are mainly talking to those students who are attending an actual brick-and-mortar seminary; but the points they make are very applicable even to those who are studying at home through correspondence, online, or intensives.

It’s a great read on how to keep Christ as the center of your seminary experience - both in home life and in the academic realm. Very great insights into living the Christian life as a seminary student!
Alan Yau
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Seminary students
Recommended to Alan by: Pastor Stephen Samec
Having been in seminary for three semesters now (about a year and a half), I know the rigors of being in seminary, in addition to working and being active church. I couldn't imagine about being a husband and a father right now. But anyways, I am really thankful for this book for the helpful reminders and exhortations for those in seminary to not neglect their Christian faith and their duties because those are the most important and not merely the seminary education itself. ...more
Arthur DeLozier
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Practical advice - empathy for someone who is thinking deeply about his/her relationship with the Lord and personal faith. The importance of feeding oneself while absorbing doctrine for later sharing. A hope of learning from others while not repeating (it's not a book of magic formulas). It could benefit with more development and character studies. ...more
Elizabeth Johnson
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-living
Great little book for anyone spending time pursuing a more academic understanding of God's Word! Includes a chapter specifically for husbands/dads, but overall it's relevant to anyone in any stage of life. Highly recommended! ...more
Matt Galyon | readsandcoffee
Succinct but Rich

This little book taught me a great deal in the short time I spent with it. As a new seminary student, this book found me at the right time. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is in or contemplating seminary.
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David Mathis (MDiv, Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando) is executive editor at and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. His seminary experience includes Reformed Theological Seminary and Bethlehem College & Seminary, where he now serves as adjunct professor.

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35 likes · 6 comments
“There are things you cannot know without suffering. God has special tutorials in tribulation for his shepherds. Do not begrudge the seminars of suffering. His aim is to make you, like Jesus, a sympathetic shepherd. It’s scary. Paul prayed that he would share Christ’s sufferings and become like him in his death (Phil. 3:10). God answered him. He was forsaken at his last trial (2 Tim. 4:16), and the Romans took him out. We are not playing games.” 2 likes
“You should marvel that no matter how remarkable your giftings or how simple your understanding, the message you proclaim is sheer stupidity to the world. Intellectual proficiency takes a back seat when your only hope is in what some call offensive and others call folly. Therefore, determine to be known less for your strengths in academic rigor and more for how that rigor helps you grasp what it means that the God-man was crucified to save the world. Embrace your weakness. Bring it all back to grace.” 2 likes
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