From James K.A. Smith’s wise and delightful new book, Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition (Brazos, 2010), pp. 12-13:
In these voices from Old Princeton [Warfield, Hodges, Shedd] I found a rigor, depth, and even philosophical orientation that thrilled my soul and seemed to scratch itches I didn’t even know I had before. I began to spend countless hours in the library drinking from these deep new wells. But it was as if the books stacking up around me functioned as walls of isolation, creating a fortress of solitude that was also a bastion of pride. How strange it is that we can become prideful about gifts and can seize possession of what’s given as if it was somehow our accomplishment.
If my own experience suggests anything, it’s that pride can swell in isolation, though it can also have its own mob mentality too. So I’ll be praying that God will bring alongside you the kinds of friends who will be co-pilgrims with you. In fact, I must tell you that in the past couple years I’ve become convinced that perhaps nothing is so important for your walk with the Lord as good friends. I think God gives us good friends as sacraments—means of grace given to us as indices of God’s presence and conduits for our sanctification. While “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24), that same Friend send us friends to help make his presence tangible and concrete. Nothing continues the incarnation like Christian friendship.