Criteria for Measuring the Quality of Grads of Evangelical Seminaries

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by UZThD, May 24, 2005.

  1. UZThD

    UZThD
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    I'll make the first suggestion. But I know there are many important criteria.

    It is: A Quality Grad Produces scholarly work for a Scholarly Degree

    It has been suggested that TEDS is a world class seminary. Perhaps it is, but one would not know that by reading a certain ThM thesis in Systematic Theology in my possession. This thesis was submitted for that four year , 120 grad sem unit, masters in 1994 and had Wayne Grudem as first reader.

    Here are some details which make me think this thesis should not have been approved:

    1) ERRORS IN RESEARCH

    a) In discussing the meaning of kephale (head) the thesis does not reference the best scholarly material as the three articles by Grudem and Cervin on that issue in Trinity Journal!

    b) In discussing the meaning of "only Begotten" the thesis again does not use the most scholarly research as TDNT or the article in NTS by John V. Dahms who explored Septuagintal and Lukan usages .

    c) This thesis misrepresents K. Barth's position by saying that B. held to the eternal role subordination of the Son, but a reading on B. of Philippians and CD indicates the opposite.

    d. The thesis fails to use original sources as when it quotes Lightfoot on Col and Philemon by getting that quote out of a TEDS MA thesis! Had the writer actually read Lightfoot he would have seen that Lightfoot does not think that prototokos means derivation as in a begetting.

    e) There is NO actual exegesis in the entire thesis of any text although it discusses and opines about many texts.

    f) In the reference works NO Hebrew or Greek grammar is listed, yet positions are expressed re the meaning of Scripture.

    g. Selective appeal is made to evidence, as in a chap on the view of church fathers often only those who support the author's points are discussed.

    h. Unsound conclusions are advanced, as, eg, saying that if Augustine held to eternal generation, then he must have accepted eternal relational subordination (but he did not)!


    2) ERRORS IN EXPRESSION

    a) The thesis reads, "In fact, in Romans 7:12 Paul states that "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined... ." Is THAT what Rom 7:12 says?

    b) On just one page in the Bibliography in three entries we have:

    "Collosians"

    "Chrsit"

    "Philipians"

    c) Elsewhere we have:

    1))"Japanese Perspective on the Tirnity" (Trinity)

    2))"Zondervan Dictorial Encyclopedia"

    3))"Toppical Analysis of the Bible"

    4))"Donald Gathry "(ie, Guthrie)

    5))"John 14:23" for 14 :28

    6))Pannenberg discussed with not corresponding footnote

    7))In the table of Contents : "THE EARY CHURCH FATHERS"


    Well, you see my concern.


    BTW, the UZ Committee req me to correct literally hundreds of items before my thesis was accepted.

    [ May 24, 2005, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: UZThD ]
     
  2. Brandon C. Jones

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    As a recent ThM grad. at TEDS, let me clarify that it is not a 120hr. program, but rather a 24 hr. program with an M.Div. prereq. (that could have been from somewhere else).

    They no longer require a ThM thesis (it is now optional with the other option being two major research papers--which were no small task for me), and if you want to see a better selection of an average student's research consult some MA theses or PhD dissertations (which always have several revisions before acceptance along with an oral examination). Or consult some other ThM theses, I 'm sure that the one you have is not your normal piece of work.

    I would tend to agree that the above thesis was subpar and should not have passed at any school, but it seems a little weird to hold this up as any measuring stick for what is average at the school or reasons of concern about the school's academic standards.

    The readers (among whom Grudem is no longer at TEDS) were at fault for this slip-up, but as someone who has actually been through the TEDS ThM program, I would disagree with your concerns. I'm sure every school has for some reason or another let a bad thesis pass, and perhaps they never should since it does make the school look bad.

    sincerely,
    BJ
     
  3. Rhetorician

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    Hey gang,

    Some major criteria you might want to consider with those UZTHD demonstrated above are:

    First;
    does the faculty have world class academic credentials? (You need to know yourself what "world class means to you?)

    Second;
    are there many with terminal degrees from that institution back on staff teaching? That is called "inbreeding" in academic parlance. I would think personally that if the ratio was over about 25-30% I would have to look and ask some serious questions.

    Thirdly,
    are the teaching staff the credentialed "Drs" or grad students?

    Fourthly,
    are the "Drs" known, writing, and continuing to produce in their discipline?

    Fifthly,
    there is always the old favorite of Regional Accreditation and ATS accreditation that surely should be considered.

    I am sure Broadus, Dr. Bob, UZTHD, me, and others can come up with other criteria and will be quick to do so as the thread moves along.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  4. Rhetorician

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    Hey gang,

    I am sorry I completely misunderstood the topic--please forgive!!

    rd
     
  5. Squire Robertsson

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    All the initial post proves is God exercised a tremendous amount of grace in some poor undeserving schmoo's life. Because for that paper to have passed, it required Divine intervention. But, that's what you get when you use a computer and rely on the program's spell check. Oh, for the days of the Smith-Corona.

    Seriously, if I am looking at a new school, it takes five to seven years after the first class graduates before I could begin make any firm judgement. Older schools, well, let's just say opinions like ours are what keeps the horse racing industry alive.

    [ May 24, 2005, 09:49 PM: Message edited by: Squire Robertsson ]
     
  6. UZThD

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  7. Dr. Bob

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    Odd topic. Measuring the quality of Graduates.

    Why not judge them by their ministry? Sit back five years and see what the man does in the crucible of the real world.

    Typos on a thesis mean little. Even the seminary or grad school from which he graduated is of small consequence.

    The real judgment will be in the faithfulness and character of the man and his ability to serve the Master.
     
  8. UZThD

    UZThD
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    ===



    Someone suggested this topic. My initial post specified that there are many criteria.

    But that thesis in Systematic Theology was ,after all, not purposed to measure his faith or character , it was intended to assess his learning at TEDS. That is what schools do : they teach and measure.

    This was not a junior high term paper, it was the culmination of at least four years (MDiv+ThM) of grad theological study , and this man got grad credit for doing it! It may have gotten him entry into a PhD program.

    If you think such things as spelling or representing an author correctly or using primary sources or citation or uses of the best resources in the literature on a topic or doing exegeses do not matter in doing grad work in Theology, then, you are thinking very differently than the educators I know.

    [ May 25, 2005, 08:56 AM: Message edited by: UZThD ]
     
  9. gb93433

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    Most often theses work done in religion is what is called library research. If one does original historical research he will have to find the original documents. That can be quite difficult and very costly.

    The TDNT often uses second and third hand sources as do most commentaries.

    Where are the primary sources you suggest? For example, if one were to do research on kephale they would want to take a look at the original or photostat copy of the documents where that word is used. To suggest that one use something else is to suggest the usage of second hand sources. Otherwise you are trusing someone else's interpretation of the word in the original document.

    Even when using a grammar you are trusting the author's judgment. Even in the last thirty years things have changed due to new findings.
     
  10. UZThD

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    ===

    So, you use the new findings, and you are liberty to test for yourself the opining of the grammarian.
     
  11. obscureone

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    How about 1 Cor 4:2 as a basic requirement? Isn't character more important than ability?
     
  12. Rhetorician

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    obscureone,

    Character is w/out a doubt very inportant. But, gifts and abilities are also to be used and developed to the Glory of God; no?

    Why is it one w/out the other? Should it not be "both/and?"

    sdg!

    rd
     
  13. obscureone

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    1 Tim. 3 lists only 1 required ability for pastors, able to teach. The rest are character issues. Having said that, I agree that it is both/and. From my experience, more problems arise from a man's lack of character than from his lack of ability.
     
  14. Rhetorician

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    Obscureone,

    What you say and observe is well worth noting and true. But, please do not skip over the "apt to teach" so quickly.

    I was told when called to preach, as you probably were, that a call to preach was a call to prepare. The main point I think most on these college/seminary threads would make is to prepare for excellence of character awa (as well as) ALL OTHER SKILLS ALSO for the teaching/preaching ministries. Did the Apostles say that their ministry was the WORD and PRAYER. These both demand an uncompromising commitment to personal holiness AND scholarship.

    In Baptist life there are too many "Baptist Nuts" out there who said they were called to preach on Wed. night, the pastor gave them their first "trial sermon" the following Sun. Night, then they were ordained the next Sun. afternoon., to be turned loose on some unexpecting church the next week. You got the picture?! It is a sad picture indeed.

    Most denoms have a standard for the pastoral ministry and that is the MDiv degree minimum. Then they ordain. At least with that system the churches have a "bare minimum" for their ministers. That is all I am trying to say.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  15. obscureone

    obscureone
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    Rhetorician,
    I couldn't agree with you more as to the necessity of excellence of preparation. I personally know too many pastors who can't/don't/won't think theologically or even refer to the original languages they once learned in seminary. God deserves our best preparation.

    Perhaps we need to revisit the concept of "the call to the ministry" (which I can't find in Scripture). Seems to me that's the trump card men lay down when their credentials or abilities or character is questioned.
     
  16. UZThD

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    I was not referencing JUST ministers.

    The THM in Systematic Theology is not just a ministerial degree but a degree intended also for teachers and for future PhD students.

    Of COURSE there are other measures of grads besides the ability to write a sound ThM thesis. I said that in my very first post!

    But the ThM is not , after all, given for being a nice guy ; it is an ACADEMIC award..isn't it?
     
  17. obscureone

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    UZThD,
    Agreed. But can't academic-types be nice guys too ? ;)

    I think Christians students ought to be the best scholars. They ought to be held to a very high standard, without imitating the world's standard.
     
  18. Rhetorician

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    Obscureone,

    Points to ponder!

    I am sorry that we have, as a church, gone down the road of "imitating the world's standards" for minsitry preparation; i.e., the seminary model.

    With that having been said, RA and ATS accreditation is the world in which we now live. And we will have to live with it indeed; since the "local church" has given away the Paul/Timothy type model of ministry preparation. Since this is what we have--we should use it and make the best out of what is not a NT model. Although, the OT "School of the Prophets" seems to have some implications for formal training AWA the "in-house" apprenticeship type training.

    Both types are desperately needed for the training of the young minister. One cannot be exempted for the other. If it is eiter/or, OR this rather than that; there is a real problem indeed. It seems to me that a balance may need to be struck!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  19. UZThD

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    agreed.
     
  20. obscureone

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    Rhetorician,
    At our assembly, we (myself and our other elder) are currently training a handful of men, using something similar to homeschoolers who use the "unit study" method. They are learning Greek & Hebrew along side of their theology, character training, history, geography, etc. It walks beside the general discipling process.

    We are committed to providing this training, along with various teaching ops. Doubt that any of them will go on to "formal education." Works for us. [​IMG]
     

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