All the talk about American secular university and mainline divinity school discrimination against conservative seminary degrees and students reminded me of a conversation I had with Esteban Vázquez not too long ago. We were speaking about the role of the seminary which is in essence to train ministers. Sadly, many seminaries have lost sight of this fact in an attempt to compete with universities. The seminary’s primary purpose isn’t (or shouldn’t be) to produce scholars, or at least not mere scholars, but rather to produce men and women who are able to interpret Scripture with all the rigor of a scholar while serving the church at the same time. The seminary education should also provide the student with training in other aspects of ministry outside of mere academic pursuits. I’m no expert on the subject, but from some testimony I’ve heard from seminary students and graduates it doesn’t seem like this is always the case. I suspect that if one wishes to just become a good scholar then they can do this at a seminary but I’d question why’d they want to. If the interest is just in the academic pursuit of knowledge and not on serving the church then why not just attend a secular school? I’d love to here from those who both attend and have attended seminary. I’d also really like to hear from anyone with experience in both a seminary and a secular institution. My main two question are: what were/are your goals and were they met at the seminary/secular school you attend(ed)?
61 thoughts on “Seminary vs. University”
I’ve got an MDiv from an evangelical institution, and a MA in process from another (just to provide a bit of framework for my response).
I agree that seminarians should not be merely scholars, as you clarified above, but I question whether seminary is the place for that kind of instruction. I took a few tediously awful classes during my MDiv that were on “small group dynamics” and things of that nature, none of which could actually prepare someone better then just starting a small group and working through these issues in “real life.”
I suppose what I am saying is, I think seminaries should train future pastors how to handle the Bible well. That is what they are best equipped to do. Pastoral experiences and like are all fine and good, and should even be required in some capacity (e.g., through an internship), but when seminary curriculum starts replacing Bible classes with all kinds of courses in the soft sciences, (I would suggest that) they are missing their best opportunity to effectively train future pastors.
I agree. If I ever decided to pursue biblical scholarship I would attend a secular university. If I wanted to be a pastor… then I’d just start attending a good church and try to intern or get training. I’d still try to get a college education just because it helps but I don’t think it would be a seminary education.
I agree with most of what has been said so far, but the seminary isn’t just a place to train ministers. It is also a place for non-ministers to gain a Biblically-grounded intellectual framework for their faith. Not really something you can get from a secular university.
Seth: I actually had in mind ‘real life’ training like the internship you suggest. I’m also thinking about homiletics courses, training for counseling, and things of that nature. The small group dynamics course you mention sounds pretty awful. But I wouldn’t suggest replacing the Bible curriculum, rather I think it should supplement it.
Bryan: If God were to call me to pastor I think I could handle it without formal training, but I’d prefer to go the seminary route just for my own peace of mind. I’d be more confident I think if I had that foundation before entering the vocation.
philosophickle: You have a point there, and I probably should have chosen a better word than minister. I’m using ‘minister’ in a more general sense of ‘servant’ or even ‘churchman’ rather than as ‘pastor’ or ‘teaching elder’ or something like that. I believe that even if all the seminary does is provide a Biblically-grounded intellectual framework for one’s faith then that can (and should) be put to some kind of use in the church.
I’m all for homiletics courses, too! But those courses should teach students how to preach using the interpretive skills which they have gained by learning the languages, hermeneutics, etc. Sadly, many programs don’t sequence languages and homiletics courses in such a way as to model that you should be letting your rigorous study of the text naturally flow into the exposition of the Bible.
Amen to not replacing Bible courses. The practical issues becomes, however, when people are trying to add new courses (e.g., Pre-marital counseling, Cultural Perspectives in Ministry, etc.), which classes get bumped from the curriculum? Unfortunately, my former institution bumped the Bible classes.
Seth: I agree on the homiletics thing, and why on earth would Bible classes get bumped in a seminary?!! That’s the foundation for any service the student will be able to offer to the church.
I went to secular university (for a liberal arts degree, not a biblical studies degree) and to seminary for my M.Div. The two courses (or course groupings) that changed my life were hermeneutics and exegesis, both of which every seminary student should take, especially if they are called to be a teacher/pastor.
I’m all for going to secular schools for training in biblical studies, and it seems they are the most in demand. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference.
Jason: If all I wanted to do was learn about the Bible and related literature just so I could know about the stuff then I’d definitely go the secular university route. If I wanted to actually apply the Bible to life and fulfill some kind of role in the church then seminary is the way to go.
If you want to see a seminary that “bumps” all the Bible classes, take a look at the (so-called) M.Div. program at Indiana Wesleyan University’s new seminary. It ought to be illegal.
I have spent time pursuing “Biblical Studies” at an Assemblies of God University and am now finishing at the University of Minnesota with a double major in Greek and Latin.
I’ve found that the education is a world of difference. The only class at the Pentecostal school that even came close were with a couple of true scholars and the rest were honestly terrible.
If someone were to say to me “I feel called to be a pastor or theologian or biblical scholar, what should I do” I would say to get a BA from a public school – their cheap and generally academically rigorous – especially in Liberal Arts: Classics, Philosophy, and Languages are great ideas.
I plan on doing my first MA at the same Public School in Classics and finishing my other degrees with Christian programs.
John: Do I have the right website? Did I read “MDIV 510 The Bible as Christian Scripture 3 Hours, Onsite, one-week intensive” and that ALONE?!! How do they expect their divine masters to actually preach from the Bible? I’m all for a lot of the courses they offer, but c’mon!
Tony: Out of curiosity who were the couple of true scholars?
Well Amy Anderson taught me Koine and Textual Criticism and Paleography – she’s the one who did the work on Family 1 and Matthew (http://tinyurl.com/yz744u2)
William Barnes taught me my one semester of Hebrew. He was a translator for the New Living and is doing a Tyndale commentary.
And Glen Menzies (the Menzies are a pure bred A/G family) knows…well…everything.
I cannot deny my roots: my own views on this matter (as least as it relates to seminary education in Western Christendom) have been formed by the views of Foppe Ten Hoor, which won the day in the Christian Reformed Church in the 1920s during the controversy over the role of Calvin Seminary. With Ten Hoor, I firmly believe that seminaries are schools of the church, not university departments, and that their primary mission is to produce an educated ministry, not scholars.
The chief means by which seminaries do this is through the Master of Divinity degree. Now, to the chagrin of seminarians everywhere, the MDiv is not (and again I say, is not) an “academic” degree; it is a “professional” degree. As such, then, its only specialization is in the practice of pastoral ministry (which makes up a full third or its curriculum), with the rest of the degree dedicated to developing competencies (not specialization) in the classical theological disciplines. Of course, I also believe that such training in the disciplines is absolutely essential and directly relevant to pastoral ministry (cf. Richard Muller’s The Study of Theology, vol. 6 in Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation); but it is obvious from this that no one comes out of an MDiv degree trained, say, as a New Testament scholar. This is in keeping with the stated mission of seminaries, which the MDiv degree is designed to fulfill.
Now, there is of course a place for seminaries to offer advanced training in specialized disciplines. This occurs at the level of the ThM/STM and PhD degrees that many seminaries offer quite successfully. I rather like it when seminaries have graduate school divisions with its own regulations that house these degrees, since this keeps clear the distinction between academic training at the research level and the professional training in pastoral ministry that is the seminary’s chief mission; this also tends to disabuse MDiv students of the notion that they are in graduate school or the like. In those places where this felicitous arrangement is not in place, I believe the distinction should be made sufficiently clear, a seminaries fail their mission to some extent if it is not.
(As an aside, I should like to mention that an MDiv is no more a master’s degree than a JD is a doctorate.)
Regarding other theological degrees for laity, I believe that these too are within the scope of a seminary’s mission as a school of the church. These degrees are taught at the level of the MDiv, and are a most effective tool to achieve the goal of a theologically educated laity, which can then fulfill any number of leadership roles in the local faith communities. There is also place, I think, for the first theological degree (MA or MTS), whose purpose is to prepare students for the rigors of higher research degrees, but I see little point in having them in institutions that do not offer the ThM/STM or PhD themselves.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
I agree with everything Esteban said
Esteban: Well said! Much better than I ever could have put it!
Tony: And I concur with your agreement.
I got an MDiv because I wanted to serve as a minister in the church. If I wanted academics, I could have pursued an MA, even though I still dream of getting a PhD some day.
However, sometimes it’s blurred. Depending on the seminary, some seminary profs are pure academics and some are actually ordained pastors so they approach their methods of teaching from a pastoral perspective. I prefer learning from pastors with MDivs and PhDs over learning from a straight academics with only PhDs who does not know anything about the life of ministry.
So my advice for ministers in training is to check out the pastoral credentials of your professors at your seminary and make sure they are not just straight academics but have an MDiv degree with pastoral experience.
You have the right website. (I didn’t have time to look it up.) Words fail me.
Kenneth Schenck (sp?), who apparently is dean of this, er, school, defends this nonsense over on Quadrilateral Thoughts–but I wonder (given his training as a NT scholar) how sincere he is, and how much of it is his just going along with the higher ups.
Glen Menzies gave the response to a paper that I presented several years ago at Marquette, and I agree with you about the quality of his scholarship. I also found him to be very humble.
Just last week I was told about a woman teaching at that school who takes a group of students to the Text Criticism seminar at Birmingham. I’m guessing that Amy Anderson is that woman?
Kevin: Something I wonder about: if the seminary professor is a pure academic, yet he serves in a capacity that trains ministers, then is he not also serving the church? If so then is he a pure academic? It’s an interesting question I think. But I definitely understand your reasoning and I think it’s sound. If my goal is to serve the church then I’d much prefer to learn from people of faith who actually know what ministry is. It’s kind of like with speaking in tongues. I’ve listened to a number of teachings and I’ve ready plenty of stuff by people on both sides of the fence, but I always end up thinking that if the people who didn’t speak in tongues actually spoke in tongues then they might have an idea about what they were saying (generally they don’t and the teaching is horrible).
John: I don’t know, but I wonder how even a MDiv degree can only include one single Bible class that’s a week long! I spent two years studying the Bible plus 6 months as a Sunday school teacher’s aid before I was ever allowed to teach a Sunday school class for kids!
I thought I remember Ken Schenck saying the reason there isn’t any straight Bible or exegesis classes is because the teaching of the Bible is integrated into all their classes and not kept seperate.
I’d be interested in seeing how a seminary education works there.
Esteban:(As an aside, I should like to mention that an MDiv is no more a master’s degree than a JD is a doctorate.)
What? You mean my JD doesn’t make me a doctor? Those shady lawyers and their false advertising! :)
Greg Beale, who is finishing out his last year at my institution (Wheaton Graduate School), is known to get upset when students who are primarily interested in pastoral ministry ask for reduced work loads or simply complain about the rigor he expects. His point is that people preparing for ministry should have even higher expectations, not lower.
I tend to agree. What I want in a pastor is someone with all the nuance of a scholar, but the communicative skills and heart of a pastor.
Seth: Well put, indeed! I was talking to an NT scholar sometime last year and he said something to the effect that he was pleased to see more PhDs in the pulpit. Not all PhD grads are equal, but when you have a heart for ministry coupled with an advanced degree in biblical studies, it’s a winning combo. That’s not to say, of course, that non-PhDs are lesser ministers–hardly so!
Yeah that’s Amy. She did her doctoral work at Birmingham with David Parker and she’s gotten tons of students in like flynn.
And I believe it about Dr. Menzies. He’s been involved in the Evangelical/Roman Catholic dialogue for decades and he (until recently) was amongst the only Evangelicals in the area who attended the Patristic Studies gatherings. Plus he can teach Hebrew, Classical Greek, History of the Church and of Philosophy and I even took Hermeneutics with him!
Bryan: Sounds a bit suspicious to me. I suppose I’d have to see it in action, but on paper the curriculum looks pretty drab.
Peter: Lawyers shady? Couldn’t be!
Seth: Beale is going to WTS right? He should be a good fit over there. I wonder though, in what areas should the person preparing for ministry have higher expectations?
I got an M.Div. because it was a three year program, and the M.T.S. I was initially aiming for was only two years. I needed time to get to know my professors. Plus, I didn’t want to move right after I’d arrived.
James: That’s pretty practical. How long is the program you’re in now?
Re: reduced school work load for future pastors…
You’d think future pastors would realize that if they can’t handle time crunches and overwhelming competing necessities, they might be selecting the wrong line of work to enter.
Nick, this is a good discussion… I have to say, I orig. attended seminary to just get ‘my feet wet’ in biblical studies, and realized that my passion did not lie with pastoral ministry but going further in academia. I think it’s a little less daunting for people (esp. Christians) to attend seminary and kind of get a feel for thinking deeply about the Bible rather than jumping straight to a secular university with the set goal for a PhD…
At least that’s my take on it, but as it stands, I’m now looking to graduate in May and go to a major research university in preparation for doctoral study, so I guess I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too…
Chuck: You’d think…
Mike: Thanks for sharing your experience. I’d imagine that your thought process is like that of many other seminarians. Do you hope to teach one day and if so would you prefer to teach in a secular university or in a seminary setting?
I would love to teach… I think that’s been getting clearer and clearer as I’m moving more towards academia. I don’t think I have really a preference at this point for secular university or a seminary, but I think in order to keep my options open, I’m gonna try to get a PhD at a major research university (kinda related to that other post you mentioned about Dan Wallace, if I got my PhD at say, a place like TEDS, I doubt any major secular universities would hire me)… Plus, while Talbot isn’t as ‘conservative’ as DTS, we’re still fairly hedged in here, and I’d like to be pushed around a bit by ‘liberals’ (I’m not masochistic!) just to see how some of my own presuppositions and understandings of the NT might hold up to their scrutiny… We’ll see! Keeping my fingers crossed.
Mike: I think for me personally the teachers I’d like to study under would influence where I’d go for my education more than anything else. For example, if I went to Tübingen while Martin Hengel was still alive it wouldn’t have been because of Tübingen’s world class reputation as a premier research institute, but rather because of Hengel’s reputation as a world class scholar (and churchman). Or if I went to Talbot it would be because I wanted to study under William Lane Craig and not because it’s a well known conservative evangelical institution.
Oh, speaking of Westminster — I happened to glance at their Faculty page the other day, and was shocked to the see that the Biblical Studies faculty is down to 3 people (!): Doug Green and Michael Kelly for OT, and Vern Poythress for NT! That is dismal. Old Westminster is surely dead. Where did everyone wind up, you ask? The newly independent Redeemer Seminary, formerly Westminster’s Texas campus, that where. So you’ve read Machen and Stonehouse and Young and Silva and want to study at their Westminster? Well, pack up and go to Dallas. Long live New Westminster!
You know where I’m hoping to get my second Master’s right?
Nick, no doubt especially for a PhD, it’s all about the supervisor. I totally meant to mention that, I just forgot! Though I guess the question that seems to floating around in some discussions is, if you go to a confessional school, are you willing to sign their doctrinal statement?
Btw, thanks for the emails on Hurtado! Much appreciated.
WTS seems to have a lot more visiting and adjunct professors in OT and NT. That’s where Beale is listed.
BTW that Poythress guy sure has a lot of degrees!
Esteban: Thanks for the heads up..Unfortunately, if I were to attend a Westminster than Philly is much more of a reality than Texas!
Mike: I suppose it would depend on the doctrinal statement. I don’t personally affirm inerrancy, but I understand the doctrine to be the ‘strict inerrancy’ of the Chicago Statement. I’ve heard other definitions of the doctrine that I’d be comfortable affirming.
And you’re very welcome. I’d love to hear your thoughts pm the Hurtado stuff.
Bryan: Interesting. I wonder if he’ll be a regular professor next year. Poythress is a sharp dude, even if he doesn’t know how to properly pronounce his own last name!
How did I miss this conversation? (most of what I say will be redundant since so many excellent comments have already been made).
Esteban basically hit it head on with the role of seminary and the MDiv – it is to train men and women for professional Christian ministry be it pastor, teacher, missionary, para-church leader, and so on. They are trained to competency levels and not specialty or expert levels, they couldn’t be anyways, there just isn’t enough time for that. You get a little bit of everything. You have a concentration, (I did Biblical languages/exegesis, for the very reasons others mentioned, to handle the Bible well), but even that is just two or three classs and not that much really.
Some go to seminary for academic stuff but that would be the MA and not the MDiv though, interestingly more and more seminary based PhD programs are interested in the MDiv over the MA. If some have time and money, they get the MA and then finish out with the MDiv. As I see it though, I think the MA should be more for the casual learner (which I think there should be more of) and the MDiv should be the one with the most students.
Bryan L is also right – more and more seminaries are (sadly) going the way of adjuncts instead of tenured professors – it saves them money.
I’d love to get a PhD but probably at a seminary (are those even real PhD’s?) mainly because I intend to continue on as pastor in some capacity to serve the church.
Also, I too want to teach but I have had to learn that to get a teaching job, even in seminary, while much of it is based on relationships, to get in you have to be GOOD, (though some places its based on politics, such as where ony mentioned) but really you can’t be average, you have to be good – so there is a lot of competition to get into teaching. a lot!
So, what to do? Teach in the church! So many want to learn yet have few to teach them.
all for now.
I’d liek to add too that the MDiv is why I get a fluserd with all the focus on being a specialist (remember that conversation a while ago?) and not a generalist – but the MDiv trains one to be a generalist, and pastors are to be generalists, they have to be. So, me? I like lots about the Bible and have trouble zeroing in on anyone area.
Brian: I wonder how competent one becomes at handling Scripture if they only take a class or two on it, assuming that that’s all the instruction they get (I’m not talking about time in personal study apart from one’s seminary education).
I have the same goal of teaching in the church as you do. I have no desire to teach in a seminary or university classroom yet I know I’ve been called to teach. If/when I get a formal education it will all be in the service of the church.
Like Brian mentioned above… I noticed that a lot of degrees required MDiv! I think it’s odd… do they want pastors who just happen to have a PhD or… ?
I was gonna apply to Princeton for a ThM but it was strictly MDiv only, so too bad for me I guess.
Mike, the ThM is typically reserved for the MDiv student to have the opportunity to solidify an area of study that they did not get to do in the MDiv, such as a whole year of classes just in the OT or NT or Theology or Missions. And of course, if one wants the DMin, then yes, the MDiv is required for that since it is a ministry leadership degree. Also, the MA is in some sense two or more ThM degrees.
Nick Well, much of what is encountered in Seminary is like trying to drink water out of a fire hose – there is just so much info one can handle.
So, “having said that” ;) – the goal is to get the basic experience and tools needed to reach some level of competency in a particular area and then (another goal is to produce life long learners) you continue to work and develop the skills learned in seminary putting them to practice in ministry and in life. Hope that makes sense.
Tony> No, I don’t know! Where are you headed for that?
Well let me tell you! All of this is, of course, subject to change. I’ve found the warning of St. James concerning “plans for the future” to be rather astute but I can try.
I’d like to get an MA here at the University of MN in Classics and a second MA at Nottingham in Philosophical Theology. Still have no idea what or where to do a Phd.
Ideally, I would like my pastor to be up on current trends in biblical studies, but is that even resonable to expect. My pastor is a hard working guy but at the end of the day he finds it hard to sit down and read the latest book.
It would be nice if confessing Christians involved in biblical studies would help to bridge the gap between the towers of education and the layperson and help them see God in biblical studies.
Let me add my voice to the cacophony of praise for Esteban’s helpful comment. Also, thanks Nick for the post and to everyone else who contributed to this conversation.
Aside from all that, I have only one thought to add.
Pastors shouldn’t have to be superhuman. It’s a shame that we put too much of our need on one person, or three, or a dozen.
But y’all know what I think… ;-)
Mike: Well if you ever change your mind and end up in Princeton let me know. I live not too far from there so we can talk Bible or theology or something. :-)
Brian: It does make sense. My only thought is that the foundational area to train any servant of the church in is the Bible. Everything else should flow from there.
Nate: It would be nice if a pastor was that tuned in but I’m more concerned with the Pastor being an able handler of Scripture. But I agree, folks need to come out of their ivory towers and start equipping the body.
Bill: Your welcome for the post and I don’t think pastors should have to be superhuman. I think it would be nice if they all possessed the skills to interpret the Bible properly (although I recognize that if you get 5 pastors in a room you’ll get 6 interpretations of what any given text says).
“I think it would be nice if they all possessed the skills to interpret the Bible properly.”
Yes. And yes, what is “properly”? ;-)
Your 5 => 6 illustration suggests complete “propriety” in this area may indeed lie beyond human capacity.
Yes, yes and yes! And another yes for good measure. And ministers should not be ashamed of having an M.Div. instead of an M.A. as though it is a lesser degree. They are called to be educated ministers. Plenty of Christians are educated in biblical studies and can discuss the often irrelevant debates of academia, but ministers are called to feed and tend the flock, which is a respectable thing.
With that said, M.Div. programs are so different. Some require much more emphasis in biblical studies and some require none. I don’t like to share personal information, but I did my bachelors at a “liberal” school of religion, an MA at another school and an M.Div. at an evangelical seminary. I had a large school with scholars who expected the same rigor that was expected of my other degrees.
Let me be completely honest and say that the M.Div. was much harder than the M.A. simply because it was a professional degree. I’m good at research and writing, but called to serve the church. Part of my calling required doing the (for me) more difficult work of taking the classes and learning to be practical…learning to serve others.
To be prepared for the ministry you need to be very well rounded in lots of areas that you wouldn’t normally think about. When you’re in seminary, you think the “stupid” classes on financial matters and educational strategies are time-wasters…but then you start serving in a church and realize that they are essential, because knowledge in these areas will help you serve the flock, which is your primary calling.
At the same time, a lot of seminaries have focused M.Div. programs where you can focus in on a particular topic if you have the background. For instance, during your three-four year M.Div. you could focus on a specialization in Historical Theology and basically do an M.A. in Historical Theology alongside the more practical classes. To do this usually requires a previous theological degree though and isn’t common for most going to seminary. M.Div. programs are often around 100 hours, thus allotting plenty of time for a good focused study if you choose.
After reading all of the posts I forgot what I was going to say, as it seems it all has been said. I did copy this as I felt is summed it for me “With Ten Hoor, I firmly believe that seminaries are schools of the church, not university departments, and that their primary mission is to produce an educated ministry, not scholars. – Esteban Vázquez”
In the fellowship that I belong to seminary is not a requirement for being a pastor. We have an on the job training for pastors. They are giving the responsibility of a bible study that they are to care for and learn to meet peoples needs. And by that I mean doing some basic counseling, visitations all the stuff a pastor would do in a church. It gives them the practical experience that one needs when dealing with people, it also gives the teaching experience. They are also given practical experience at church by doing various functions such as leading prayer, making announcements, running special services once a month on Friday nights, leading outreach teams, etc.
Along with that we provide training in areas of theology, biblical interpretation, leadership, etc. All is done within the confines of the local church. I am not arguing that this is the best or right method, but it has worked for us for over 30 years. Calvary Chapel headed by Chuck Smith does something similar, although they are more academically challenged than our organization is, and by that I mean they are more focused in teaching, rather than the practical side of pastoring. Although I do find them to be a bit on the fundamentalist side of things.
Bill: Properly means ‘exegetically’ at least. It’s the difference between just opening the Bible and preaching what it ‘means to me’ and preaching the conclusions you’ve drawn from examining the language, genre, intertextual relationships, etc. Having the tools to properly interpret the Bible doesn’t mean that you’ll yield correct conclusions, but I’m more confident in folks with the ability than those without it.
Ranger: Well said. I’m curious, what was the focus like on the Bible in your MDiv curriculum?
Robert: I don’t believe that seminary should be a requirement for being a pastor, although I do believe that some kind of training should. But, along with Esteban and most other folks (including yourself) I think that seminaries should be primarily interested in training the people who are going to serve the church, not just the folks who want to write books that 13 people the world over will read and understand. Scholars are great and I thank God for them, but mere scholarship shouldn’t be the goal of a seminary, and if it’s the goal of the seminarian then I wonder why they just don’t go to a secular institution that’s geared for just that.
Great points all, Nick. And as I meant to say before, thanks so much for sparking this fantastic threat.
Nick, good point and I agree.
Bill: I certainly didn’t intend it as a threat! :-P Seriously though, thank Dan Wallace, or better yet, Esteban since it was our phone conversation that loomed in my mind as I composed this.
Robert: Then naturally you are correct! ;-)
E-Gad! Zooks, even.
Yes, obviously I meant to type “thread”.
Sew glad you hended my compre.
They required four semesters of Greek, three semesters of Hebrew, two semesters of hermeneutics, two semesters of intro to OT and two semesters of intro to NT and then a requirement of two semesters for OT classes and three semesters NT classes.
There were something like 21 open hours required for the degree that allowed you to focus those seven classes on one particular field.
If you have the background, you can test out of the basic classes allowing you more time to focus on a topic. I had the background, but my undergrad professors didn’t want me attending an evangelical seminary and wouldn’t write the recommendations necessary for me to test out. Of course, they were supportive had I chosen a liberal seminary and three of them were even willing to meet with friends at some of the other schools of religion on my behalf if I chose to go there…basically their anti-evangelical stance forced me to retake some of my basic classes. Fortunately, I had the time to do some more education post-M.Div. to make up for the time lost retaking courses.
Ranger: That’s a pretty rigorous curriculum. I’d certainly be more confident in a pastor’s interpretive ability if he had taken that course of study than this course.
That’s kind of messed up that your professors wouldn’t write you letters to test out in an evangelical seminary. I suppose it worked out in your favor anyway.
Hi John, Nick, and all. I’m the Biblehead come Dean of the new fiendsh seminary mentioned above. There is a genuine debate to be had over the way it treats Bible, but I hope eventually we’ll be able to make clear on our website where the debate truly lies.
Bryan L. is right above, somewhere between a third and a fourth of our core requirements involve Bible, theology, and church history, but they are folded into the practical courses. So this past week, a theology professor came into a Missional Church class (the practioner professor stayed in the room) and facilitated an assignment on two-thirds world theologies. The overall topic of the week was global missions.
The week before, I came into the class for an hour and facilitated a discussion on how conflict in the early church catalyzed the expansion of the early Christian mission “just beyond” its comfort zone. The week was about Christian service in the regions just beyond the local context of your church.
The debate is thus whether our curriculum should also have Bible requirements that work through individual books other than in electives.
As a Biblehead, sure, I prefer to teach courses the traditional way. But I do suspect that ministers in training will get more from this approach. As someone said, we’ll see!
Ken: I hope you’ll be able to clarify that on the website as well. I’m sure you can understand how it might look to the casual observer like me who just happens across the site and sees a one week intensive course on the Bible.
I BS in Math Ed. Starting pastoring with limited training. Went to semiary and earned my M. Div at a small evangelical school. The school was difficult because of my background, the length (90 credit hours) and the quality insisted by the professor. I went to a major univesity (ranks in the top 20) to earn a Ph.D. in education and relgious studies. I have pastor churches for 30+ years.
I said all of that to indicated that I have been to both sides. God calls YES, school is good, even Apostle Paul (educated) took nearly 3 years after the Damsus Road experience to study before preaching.
Education is often only as good as the students effort.
I am a much better pastor and preacher and christian because of my seminary education.
My particualr seminary professor were as good as any of my BIG TIME university professor.
I have much more to say but my grandpa said, You can roll a cow patty in the biggest pile of sugar and it still is not a donut. Many degrees does not make you a servant of God and education alone does not transform you. Education helps you obtain knowledge not wisdom.
God told Jeremiah “I know you and have plans for you”
Elmer: Thanks for sharing. Not much to disagree with there.