2 Posts In 1: The Master's Seminary & Academic Rant

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, May 15, 2005.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    The Master's Seminary

    Anyone on this forum a graduate or current student of The Master's Seminary in California? I really like their Doctor of Theology degree program. While I would probably never travel that far to attend a school I do wish more seminaries still offered the ThD.

    _______________________________

    Academic Rant

    I like the PhD, and the MDiv, however I would love to see a more academic approach. Too many seminaries today are mostly ministry and lack a solid theological academic requirment. In fact, at some schools, it is possible to get a MDiv with very little doctrine/theology/Biblical studies courses (beyond the basic intro courses). I look at some seminaries, which shall remain nameless, and they offer the MDiv in everything from Family Counseling to Student Ministries. However, when it comes to the academic fields (Christian philosophy, apologetics, theology, church history, etc) they are often very, very weak. They may have a MDiv in Biblical studies (if you are lucky). Usually those called into academic ministries are forced to go with the general MDiv and use the electives to get the academic courses (while taking all of the required minstry courses).

    Take my own school, Liberty, as an example. On or off campus their MDiv concentrations are: Biblical Studies, Church Ministries, Cross Cultural Ministries, Educational Ministries, Evangelism and Church Growth, Leadership, Pastoral Counseling, Pastoral/Preaching, Theology/Apologetics, Worship Studies, or Youth Ministry.
    Notice that at Liberty there are only two academic programs out of a possible eleven programs(2/11).

    Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary offers eight MDiv concentrations: Women's Studies, North American Church Planting, International Church Planting, Counseling Ministry, Christian Education, Church Music, General Ministry Track, Advanced Biblical Studies.

    That means that Southeastern has one program out of eight that is designed for academic purposes. That is pretty bad, however they make up for their failure in the strength of their MDiv/Advanced Biblical Studies (and ThM, PhD degrees).

    I pick Liberty and Southeastern out as examples, however they actually are doing very good compared to other schools (which shall remain nameless). Why the lack of academic programs? Is there not high enough demand?

    I am of the belief that pastors and missionaries need more Bible/Theology/Apologetics/Church History than they do ministry courses. So this is not just for academic folks.

    Sometimes I am afraid that normal seminaries don't offer the right programs for people called into academic ministries (teaching, etc).

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  2. StefanM

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    One problem is this: an M.Div. is a professional degree.

    Another problem is this: PhD programs often require an M.Div.

    An academic program requiring a professional degree?

    I'd like to see more emphasis on the M.A.
     
  3. gb93433

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    Master's Seminary is mostly for trianing pastors their way. I know many who have graduated from there. The seminary as a whole has gone down academically. Those I know who are pastors who have graduated from there do not even know what a Mishnah is. They have not studied the intertestamental period and apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature. For the most part they preach MacArthur not the results of their study. What I have repeatedly found is when they are challenged in what they believe they often go back to what MacArthur teaches. Often I have found when you come in with something for them to consider if they have not been taught it, they have not heard of it and don't know what to do.

    They seem to adhere to the idea that the have the truth so do not bother with learning anything else.
     
  4. Martin

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    Amen to that. That is what most other academic fields are focusing on. What kind of "gets under my skin" is the fact that I could have a 30 hour degree in history and go right into a PhD program! As it stands, come this summer, I will have a 45 hour MA/Religion degree yet I will still need around more 45 hours to get a MDiv so I can even be considered for a PhD program. :mad: Theology is more important than history, I realize that. However for those of us not going to be pastors there should be academic MA programs that will allow us entry into PhD programs.

    Now I know people will say there are some (NOBTS, Regent, etc). However there are not enough. All the major seminaries should have these academic MAs (and not just for Bible College graduates).

    Just a side note...I had thought about getting a MA/History after my MA/Religion. However the PhD programs require at least a MDiv so the MA/Religion MA/History combo will not work. That is simply amazing. However I have no choice, I will tough it out because I know what God has called me to do.

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  5. Martin

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    You said:
    Master's Seminary is mostly for trianing pastors their way. I know many who have graduated from there.

    ==Yea, I think most seminaries are like that. That was the whole point about the academic rant.
    ___________________________

    You said:
    The seminary as a whole has gone down academically. Those I know who are pastors who have graduated from there do not even know what a Mishnah is. They have not studied the intertestamental period and apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature.

    ==That is sad. I had hoped for much more from a school run by MacArthur.

    ____________________________________

    You said:
    For the most part they preach MacArthur not the results of their study. What I have repeatedly found is when they are challenged in what they believe they often go back to what MacArthur teaches. Often I have found when you come in with something for them to consider if they have not been taught it, they have not heard of it and don't know what to do.

    ==No offense, but I hope and pray you are wrong (I hope you understand what I mean). That is a very sad state and it is frightening that there are pastors out there, from any seminary, that can't defend their faith or proper doctrine without appealling to some other teacher/preacher. Sad, sad, sad. :(

    What is even more sad is that I doubt, I know, Master's is not the only school turning out such students. Like I said in my post, there are schools that give the MDiv to students who have had very little or no theology/apologetics/history courses (beyond the introduction basics). These people have many, many hours in ministry, evangelism (how effective their methods are is a post for a different forum), missions, and counseling. There would be nothing wrong with that if it were balanced out with an equal number of theology/apologetics/history type classes. As it is there are many pastors who can't defend the faith, and can't discuss doctrinal differences with any level of academic strength. [​IMG] Ministry is fine and great but without the academic facts it is weak (just like you can't have academics without ministry you can't have ministry without the academics).

    Thanks for the info.

    Martin.
     
  6. UZThD

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    I do agree that one should be able to begin a doc for teaching NT/OT/ST w-out taking many courses in ministry.

    But IMO a 30 unit MA may not adequately prepare one for PhD work. Still, it is done so what do I know?

    Maybe I'm just a late bloomer, but I KNOW that I was not equipped to do a research ThD by my 36 sem hr MA in Religion..

    I wonder if an MDiv program should not have entry exams in Bib/Theo and should have approx 70 sem units of the work in Theo/Bib/Lang/ Ch Hist/Apologetics etc, perhaps awarding an MA after 60 units, and only 20 in ministry.

    [ May 15, 2005, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: UZThD ]
     
  7. Rhetorician

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    To All,

    First I would like to say once again that the MDiv is the "first professional degree." It is a degree to train ministers primarily. It is not a prelude to the PhD/ThD necessarily.

    Secondly, the specialized MDiv's like the "Academic Tracts" are for those who wish to pursue the research doctorate and know it on the "git go." Many is the time when someone ends up doing the research doctorate they do not know they want to do it when they start the MiDiv several years earlier.

    Thirdly, if one wants to do an MA/PhD in sequence then the place to go is Wheaton. But, it is terrribly expensive and hard to get the whole family there. Many young people DO NOT know they want to be academics going into the ministry and only find it out as they mature in ministry.

    Fourthly, the RA seminaries of any size (SBC Six come to mind) have specialized MDiv's w/30 hr. module to give an MA type specialty to the MDiv degree. We have become so complicated as a culture that we have to have special training in a very narrow field in order to have some credibility just like secular credentials.

    Fifthly, those same seminaris have "specialized MAs" so one can do a shorter program and get to the ministry faster. Sometimes a secular univ will use this MA to get into the their PhD program.

    Sixthly, let's not "tear down" a traditonal MDiv program or movement because it is not the short cut route. There is a "method in the madness." Not everyone uses the MDiv as Baptists do; other denoms use it as a pre-reg to ordination. Whatever one might say it does, it can guarantee a certain level of uniformity that we Baptists do not know anything about.

    Points to ponder!

    "Angry exhortations" welcome.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  8. Martin

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    No "Angry exhortations" here, I promise [​IMG]

    Just a response to your points.

    You said:
    First I would like to say once again that the MDiv is the "first professional degree." It is a degree to train ministers primarily. It is not a prelude to the PhD/ThD necessarily.

    ==I agree with the first part of your statement. I would, however, suggest that a reformation is needed. As for the second part while the MDiv may not "necessairly" be the "prelude" to a PhD, it is usually required. Very few schools that I can find will accept someone into a PhD program w/out a MDiv (or MDiv equivalence).
    _____________________________________

    You said:
    Secondly, the specialized MDiv's like the "Academic Tracts" are for those who wish to pursue the research doctorate and know it on the "git go." Many is the time when someone ends up doing the research doctorate they do not know they want to do it when they start the MiDiv several years earlier.

    ==I see your point and respect it, however we need more academic tracts and less ministry tracts. I return to my point about ministry courses...there are too many. These are suppose to be "theological seminaries" not "schools of ministry". The main purpose, in theory, is to education future ministers and teachers in theology. However when a person can get a MDiv with very little theology (only the required intro courses) something is wrong.

    ______________________________________

    You said:
    Thirdly, if one wants to do an MA/PhD in sequence then the place to go is Wheaton. But, it is terrribly expensive and hard to get the whole family there. Many young people DO NOT know they want to be academics going into the ministry and only find it out as they mature in ministry.

    ==Wheaton would be a great school to attend. I would love to do their MA/Biblical Archaeology, that would be a dream. However I will never be able to do that. As for many not knowing they want to go into an academic ministry (teaching, etc), I agree. However some of us know ahead of time and don't want to go through all of the ministry/church leadership courses. Those courses, which I have taken, are boring and (for me) useless. I would much rather spend my time/money/energy working on theology, apologetics or church history. My point is that there should be more options for those of us who know we are going in a more academic route.
    _________________________________________

    You said:
    Fourthly, the RA seminaries of any size (SBC Six come to mind) have specialized MDiv's w/30 hr. module to give an MA type specialty to the MDiv degree. We have become so complicated as a culture that we have to have special training in a very narrow field in order to have some credibility just like secular credentials.

    ==We may disagree here, but I think specialized training is a good thing (even in theological studies). Now if one is called to be a minister or missionary, I would advise a broader base of study like the MDiv. However for those who wish to teach in certain fields there should be more options to focus on those fields (w/out having to suffer through/and pay for classes that have nothing to do with that field). I think of the MA/History degree at UNC-Wilmington. The program is a 30 semester hours of history graduate study. Twenty four of those hours must be in history. That kind of program turns out historians. These people have complete focus on their field of study. Unless they want to they are not required to take graduate education courses (because some might teach), or graduate psychology courses (etc). It is focused and very specialized. I want to see more of the major seminaries opening up MA programs like that (focused, specialized) that will allow one to enter a PhD w/out the MDiv.
    _____________________________

    You said:
    Fifthly, those same seminaris have "specialized MAs" so one can do a shorter program and get to the ministry faster. Sometimes a secular univ will use this MA to get into the their PhD program.

    ==I know NOBTS has such programs, but do any of the others? Liberty does not, and I don't think Southeastern does either.
    _________________________________

    You said:
    Sixthly, let's not "tear down" a traditonal MDiv program or movement because it is not the short cut route. There is a "method in the madness."

    ==We don't need to throw the baby out with the bath water. However there needs to be a massive reformation. Not just with this issue but also with ATS and distance education. No we don't need to tear down the MDiv. It can stay as the standard for pastors (who don't need a PhD), thats fine. However there should be more MA options (at the major seminaries) for an academic focus (like Wheaton's MA/Biblical Archaeology).
    _________________________________


    Points to ponder!

    ==Indeed, points to ponder. [​IMG]

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  9. Rhetorician

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    Martin (& you too UZTHD comment on my opinions above),

    As always you both have some good points/counter-points to ponder.

    In defference to your point that the MDiv needs more academic tracts, I feel as if that misses the point of the MDiv degree. Is it not first and foremost to train local church ministers rather than academics? It is rather "the first professional degree" for ministry.

    If you look at most of the SBC schools it seems as if I remember that most have special MAs in everything from Biblical Languages, Youth Work, denom. leadership, campus minister, church admin, etc, et al.

    It has always been irksome to me that a 90 hr. MDiv from an RA seminary will not get you squat at a univ, even if you have 30 hrs in Church History or some other related subject. It is as if you don't have a Master's degree at all.

    There may be some reformation of the degree process for the MDiv/DMin tract. There was some talk a few years ago about making everyone get a 4 year post-grad professional degree and having it be similar to the M.D., J.D., Pharm. D. route and then just calling everyone who received it "Doctor." That is what a lot of folk want anyway, the title w/out the work!!

    With the new types of DE programs available RA does not mean what it once did. We may indeed be on the verge of a new movement. But, I for one am a slow learner and the classroom model is/was what was best for me. And I really do not think it can be beaten.

    It seems that all of us (or the majority) have done the formal, grad school, advanced degree education gig in a round-a-bout way. And that all who have a learned and experienced opinion have made learning a lifelong habit of excellence. I want all of you to know who have RSVPed in the past to my posts have become friends and that I could you worthy colleagues.

    Please do not hesitate "to hold my feet to the fire" when you think I may be meandering from time to time.

    SDG!

    rd
     
  10. UZThD

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  11. Pastor Larry

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    I am not aware of any PhD programs that require an MDiv degreee. Most require the MA. Having an MDiv gives you advanced standing in the PhD. It is a ThD that requires and MDiv. There may be some exceptions to that, but I would look again.

    The MDiv is a professional degree for pastors. The PhD is a professional degree for academia. They are both, typically, the same number of hours. For instance, if you leave college and go straight to an MA/PhD route, it usually requires 90-100 hours, or so. If you leave college and go straight to an MDiv, it will require 90-100 hours to graduate. So by the time you have an MDiv, you could have a PhD. The course concentrations are different. Of course, it can be different at different places.

    Having said that, I am not in favor of these concentrations for MDiv. I think MDiv should be a theology and languages track primarily.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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  13. Broadus

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    Most older seminaries which now offer the PhD used to offer the ThD. They just simply changed the nomenclature. BTW, the ThD was not considered a professional degree--it was and is an academic degree.

    J. Gresham Machen was among those who reacted not only to the liberalism coming into Princeton Seminary but also to the increased emphasis upon training in the practical aspects of ministry. Having received a bit of formal training myself, I find much too much emphasis upon practical courses and too little emphasis upon those of a more academic nature.

    I realize many will disagree, but I never found courses on such subjects as leadership, church administration, or even personal evangelism to be very helpful. Such things are learned better through experience, seminars perhaps, and general reading. The lack of depth in our churches is directly related to, among other things, the lack of depth in our ministerial training. Too many seminaries allow one to graduate with the MDiv without biblical languages. Too many ministers think that church history is what has occured during the past 50 years.

    Having said that, SBTS, which has too many tracks of a more practical nature to suit me, does have the very popular Biblical and Theological Studies track: http://www.sbts.edu/academics/degrees/theology/mdiv_biblical_studies.php . The BTS, IMO, is more like what an MDiv program should be.

    Blessings,
    Bill
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    I completely agree with you about the usefulness of the practical courses. The time would be better spent on theology and languages.

    The ThD was the normal degree for seminary teaching. It followed on the MDiv and ThM degrees. There are not many left anymore.
     
  15. Rhetorician

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    Pastor Larry,

    The SA degrees like UZTHD received last Friday are nearly all ThDs.

    FYI!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  16. UZThD

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  17. Pastor Larry

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    I have looked that the one at BBS in PA and have strongly considered it. I didn't know it required an MDiv. I didn't look at it fully since I have a ThM, I didn't pay attention to lesser requirements.

    Dallas I know requires the ThM. I don't think they even have an MDiv anymore do they?
     
  18. UZThD

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    ===

    I'd like to do the BBS PhD as it is much by distance , and having the ThM reduces the amount of work. But I just don't have the bucks!

    I don't know that DTS ever gave the MDiv did it?
     
  19. Broadus

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    I think that the basic master's degree at DTS has always been the 4-year ThM as opposed to the 3-year MDiv. Of course, both usually take longer.

    Bill
     
  20. PatsFan

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    I definitely think MDiv programs should offer solid theological and biblical programs. I also think more than one counseling class should be offered and at least one management class. There are pastors out there with MDivs from fine seminaries who are brilliant in the pulpit, but lack the practical skills to adequately lead a congregation. I don't think they always pick that practical stuff up along the way.
     

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