Vigorous, Provocative Writing

My professor of Reformation church history at WTS (and I also took the valuable class on John Owen’s theology from him) has written two volumes that examine contemporary issues from a Reformed perspective (here and here). The writing is punchy, witty, and refreshingly opinionated, in contrast to the drool that drips from the pens of contemporary witless pseudo-scholars who think they have to be polite in order to be heard and respected. Now, make no mistake, Carl Trueman knows what politeness is, and he is polite when it is appropriate. However, when it comes to a position with which he disagrees, the boxing gloves go on, and you will almost always see the demise of the opposition’s position.

But one should be careful to interpret such boxing in its historical context: he is a Brit, an Englishman, to be more precise. Anyone who has any idea of what Parliament does over there will then have a good idea of what Carl is trying to do. Our overly polite society does not think, and this is one of Carl’s biggest targets. The other qualifying factor in reading Carl’s boxing matches is that Carl never takes himself too seriously. In fact, he is self-aware enough not to take himself any more seriously than he takes his opponents’ positions.

What Carl hates more than almost anything else is indifference. So Carl has insured that no one can read him with indifference. There might be an exaggeration here or there just for this purpose of avoiding indifferent readers, but it is all in good fun. Not only will you be entertained (isn’t that a necessity in modern culture?), but you will be forced to think. Don’t read these books if you are tired.

Of all the shorter pieces on various subjects, I would have to say that my favorites were “Boring Ourselves to Life,” “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?” “The Age of Apathy,” and “A Dangerous Gift for my Wife.” Of the longer pieces, I appreciated the inaugural lecture (which I had already read in WTJ) “Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light,” and his piece on the Finnish interpretation of Luther (which I had also read in WTJ previously).

1 Comment

  1. Matt Beatty said,

    September 4, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Expressing oneself with Trueman-like verve takes talent. If one wishes to write this way, one should seriously consider whether he or she has the chops to pull it off. Otherwise, isn’t effective. At all. Feel like getting hit with a sledgehammer rather than sliced-and-diced with an…um… serrated edge!


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