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How to Stay Christian in Seminary Paperback – January 31, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (January 31, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433540304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433540301
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


How to Stay Christian in Seminary should be placed in the hands of every first-year seminarian. It provides a much-needed balance as they navigate the beautiful but treacherous waters of a seminary education. I plan to use this powerful little book with great profit for my students in the years ahead.”
Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Mathis and Parnell here contribute to a small but important stable of books that everyone thinking about attending or already enrolled in seminary should read. Studying theology is not an intellectual game, nor is it simply what you have to do to receive credentials. It is, rather, the project, both art and science, of living to God in intelligent, affectionate, and obedient response to God’s Word. The seminary is no ivory tower but a crucible in which Christian wisdom and spirituality are tested and refined—not only, or even primarily, by exams, but by the vital tests of everyday life. How to Stay Christian in Seminary alerts students to the real curriculum that undergirds degree structures: the pedagogy of the triune God that aims at forming the mind and heart of Jesus Christ in students and disciples.”
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“For seminarians who have heard seminary will dull your faith, here is great advice packed into a small space. Don’t let the size of this book fool you. It is filled with solid-gold counsel.”
Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement; Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“David and Jonathan are wrestling with a serious problem here, and they give biblical advice that is full of grace and full of Jesus. Very concise, too, and that too is a virtue. Anyone thinking about going to seminary will benefit greatly by spending some time with this book.”
John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“This book makes me angry and sad—because I wish it had been written years earlier. As I read it, I can see faces of people I love who wrecked their lives in seminary, and I wish I could go back in time and hand them this volume. Some of them lost the faith. Some lost their families. Some lost their integrity. The Devil wants to bring down ministers of the gospel, and he usually erects the demolition scaffolding in seminary, when we’re too occupied with Greek flash cards to see the shadow of the pitchfork on the wall. This book, by brilliant men of God, can help you lay out a war plan. Read it, and fight.”
Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Tempted and Tried

“I am exceedingly grateful for David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell for writing this helpful book. They touch on an issue of great concern in theological education, and on a topic of great concern to me personally. So much so, I wish that every seminary student in every seminary in America would read this insightful book and apply its teachings to their lives.”
Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and College

“Written by two men fresh from the trenches of theological education, this little volume is sure to help the new seminary student navigate the pitfalls of misplaced priorities, overcommitment, undercommitment, and decentralization. It is full of grace, truth, and wisdom, all the while keeping Jesus right at the center of everything. I dare say, it may even help to soften the crusty interior of those of us who have spent more than a few years serving in the context of theological education for the church.”
Miles V. Van Pelt, Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Director, Summer Institute for Biblical Languages, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“This is a book I have composed in my head many times, but never actually wrote down. Now I discover David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell actually wrote it down, and did a better job than I would have done. It is a guide to not only survive but to thrive in seminary (or any college or graduate program where you study theology).”
Don Sweeting, President, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“Seminary students are called to live all of life before the face of God with application to their lives and future ministries. This devotional way of living means drinking deeply of both gospel grace and gospel truth with humble awareness of their dependence on the Holy Spirit inside and outside of the classroom. I highly commend this insightful book as must reading for present and prospective seminary students to gain this biblical perspective on seminary training. I would encourage seminary students everywhere to re-read this book at the beginning of each semester and pray that God would use this resource to help them take hold of Christ and his heart for their seminary experience.”
Mark Dalbey, President and Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Covenant Theological Seminary

“Here's a great little book every seminary student should read, preferably in their first semester!”
Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

About the Author

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.
Jonathan Parnell (MDiv, Bethlehem Seminary) is a content strategist at and has spent the last nine years studying on seminary campuses in North Carolina and Minnesota.

Customer Reviews

I bought it for a student that will start seminary in the fall.
Kyle Campise
This was probably also intentional, so it is a quick read for those, like me, who already have much to read!
Micah Meisburg
I have just over one year left in seminary and I wish I had read this book a long time ago.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Dembeck on January 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
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 appropriately sobered by [seminary]. We want you to face the challenge in earnest and see your faith strengthened, deepened, enlivened, and enriched by seminary, not shipwrecked." The book certainly accomplishes this aim and more; I was particularly challenged with my leadership assumptions on top of walking a daily Christian walk.

What I Wish:
Two things about the text. First, I wish Mathis and Parnell would have expanded their audience to *all students* rather than just complimentarian seminarians. Second, much of what HSXS admonishes the reader to do has hints of an air of perfection, as if the authors were able to master the concepts they present during their seminary experiences. Make no mistake, both Mathis and Parnell are solid men of God, active in the Church, love and lead their families well, but I know them well enough (via Bethlehem Baptist Church) to know they write from these struggles and admonish us to learn from their mistakes before we make them ourselves.

What I Walked Away With:
1. How can this be applied?
* HSXS is rich with applications. A few things of note:
* I have the immediate application of a biblical liturgy to daily pray over my wife.
* To constantly connect the *learning* to the glory of God.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SeeClay on February 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
This was required reading for my first year of Seminary and I am so glad it was. For anyone who wants seminary to be more than simply information this is an essential read. Personally it helped me realize that "if you are married then your wife is the hero of seminary!" I can't agree more. After reading this book I felt more prepared for many of the challenges that I am now facing. It was a quick read and helped me move beyond my head and into my heart. The gospel is central on every page and God is glorified because of the approach these men took putting this together.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Kormann on February 5, 2014
Format: Paperback
As a college/seminary student, I am immensely grateful for this little book. Scaling the rock wall of theological education is precarious and often daunting. Jonathan and David carve out sturdy handholds for climbing, all the while maintaining the harness and belay of God's grace through Jesus.

Sometimes, books with a narrow topic run amuck by failing to ground their subject in wide, large truths. The authors of How to Stay Christian in Seminary accomplish a profound practicality by centralizing this book in truths that not only efficiently address, but transcend the specificity of the seminary experience.

HSXS is written attractively. It is concise, practical, and pastoral. The authors sense the seriousness of the seminarian plight, and offer real, authentic, anchoring truths. It addresses a relevant problem, hits its target well, and starts a helpful conversation. This book is stocked with gospel weaponry, and is indispensable for those in theological education. I highly recommend it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MM on March 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell have written an excellent book on how to stay a Christian in seminary. There is no doubt that this book is a must-read for every seminary student. The main reason for that is because of the fact that this book is so practical. David and Jonathan do a great job of pointing seminary students to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the most valuable thing about this book.

My favorite chapter is one written by Jonathan Parnell. His chapter titled: Push Your Books Aside and Pray is so great. This a message that seminary students need to preach to themselves constantly. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the reading and writing and not focus on your relationship with the Lord. This cannot be something that seminary students do. We must always be willing to commune with Jesus and I have no doubt that this is what Mathis and Parnell are suggesting.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anybody who is attending seminary or wanting to attend seminary. It really is that good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alen Anthrayose on April 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
As a student pursuing a biblical major, this is quite possibly one of the most helpful books I have read. I resonate with the other reviewers because of how such a simple book has profoundly kingdom implications (one of which is making your studies Christ-centered. Instead of trying to parse Greek, with Greek as the end, parse Greek as a means to an end: Christ)!

Even though I am not a seminarian, I do feel the weight of making my theological studies the end-game, rather than a stepping stone. I would highly recommend this book to all students, especially to the undergraduate Christian majors. Do not let the title fool you, you do not have to be in a Masters' or phD program to fall into Christ-less learning.
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