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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by BobinKy, Dec 6, 2010.
Please respond to the poll on Degree--Is It Worth the Paper?
Don't see a poll...but on general principles, I'd vote yes...unless it was from Peter Ruckman....
Sorry for the inconvenience. The poll should now be available.
I think this is hard to answer all alone like this.
Depends on the person, for some absolutely for others sometimes no.
Depends on the type of vocation or career, for some a must for others sometimes no.
I would go further than that...I would say a degree from a good Seminary, under godly, Spirit led teachers, is of inestimable value, and in fact, nearly indispensable for a man entering into the pulpit. The only acceptable alternatives that I could see, is an apprenticeship program like in the New Testament, where the young men ate, slept, and walked with a minister for 3 + years, receiving instruction. Of course, this is not our educational model nowadays, but it would get the job done (assuming the minister is educated sufficiently in the scriptures, Greek, Hebrew, etc.).
We'd probably be a lot better off if the RULE was that men had to receive a degree to pastor.
A lot of mess floods the Church via ignorance.
There's quite a few folks that would say a degree from Ruckman is of inestimable value...and I'd sooner walk against traffic than allow a person with such a degree be my pastor.
So feel free to send me a PM, or identify it somewhere else, but I'd like to know which seminaries are "good," with godly, Spirit-led teachers.
For Part B of that, we'll identify as many of the "not so good seminaries, with not so godly, not so Spirit-led teachers" so we can avoid them.
I think the premiere seminary in the world today is Southern Theological in Louisville, KY.
That place is putting out some serious missionaries and pastors and full time ministerial students.
I wish I could go. As much as I love my church, if God was ready to move me to Louisville and give me a pastorate there- I'd jump at the opportunity. I'd move there and attend classes.
There is another great seminary two hours from me in my old stomping ground- Jackson, MS.
It is Reformed Theological Seminary- Ligon Duncan teaches there.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville...Southeastern Baptist...Reformed Theological Seminary...I would even, by and large, include my current institutions New Orleans Baptist, and Liberty Baptist, although they would be further down on the list...
Blame the system for this question to begin with.
We've become enslaved to degrees. I have a few, but who really cares. Being a faithful servant of God is what really matters, not the school you went to.
Too often we go to certain schools to please people. Yep!
A person should get as much formal training as possible. This gives us tools to use to serve our Lord. I was asked one time why I have so many books; my response was they are tools that help me do the ministry God has called me to just as the carpenter has tools to do his work.
Having a wall full of degrees (and I too have a few) does not make us any better than the next person. Anyone can study the Scriptures deeply and sometimes have more sense than a PhD. We need to keep in mind what Paul said about all of his credentials, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Philippians 3:7-8. The true test is the relationship we have with our Lord and our daily walk with Him. That walk is not conditioned on formal training.
Formal training is great, but is simply a tool.
Education - marked by COMPLETING programs that PROVE competence - is of great benefit.
Self-education is also valuable but somehow others must be able to TEST or PROVE it. Seldom witnessed personally. Most "think" they are educated because they did x,y,z book or such, but 130 credits of undergrad and 50-100 hours of grad official verified work is vastly different.
That said, I know some who have a BA and can't spell, can't speak, can't (or don't) think, etc. The BA today is probably akin to an 8th grade education of 150 years ago or a high school diploma of our grandparents' era.
So I don't even trust the education of one just because they have a degree. I TEST and PROVE it before believing them/what they say or teach.
Would you know of any Northern Seminaries like maybe Westminster.
I'll give another vote for Southern. Let me know when you want to drop by. I'll give you the tour.
A few things that set Southern apart from a lot of other seminaries is that they (1) recruit the finest teachers on the planet (2) who are active in the local church and mission field -- most are currently in the pulpit, leading churches, or travel to the mission field on a regular basis (3) who take the Bible apart, but also then put it back together (4) so that they can stay faithful to the Word and prepare ministers of the gospel for the work God has called them to.
The profs do not march in lock step, nor do they "indoctrinate" anyone into any single belief system, apart from the Scriptures. I've probably spent as much time in my seminary career learning stuff that I (or we) did not agree with as I did stuff I (or we) did. Everything is laid out and examined and both students and doctors who teach are open to fair discussion.
BUT... Don't even consider SBTS unless you're ready to work -- hard. It is no Sunday school... You will be expected to work through 3-6 books per semester per course, plus write detailed major papers, do field work, etc., in order to gain your degree. Also, all the core course work includes biblical language, which you have to nail down in one semester -- and must complete to graduate -- tough work! I always love it when the new semester starts and new students fill the campus. Their first question is always, "Which class should I take so that the prof won't kill me..." Ha! Wrong school... There are no easy courses! Personal evangelism, for instance. You are expected to memorize an entire chapter of the Bible, and recite it for the class. Then, you also have to turn in evangelism reports on a daily or weekly basis. That was the easiest course I took (required also).
One of the things I do is to edit and format doctoral dissertations for seminary students. These men (for the most part) are pastors who are returning to school to gain a D.Min. degree. I am constantly appalled at their level of ignorance, inability to write or process the English language (to say nothing of their lack of ability in biblical languages) and they are often horrific writers with no real clue about what they are doing. SOMEONE granted them a diploma somewhere. Shame on those someones...
Definitely worth the paper, the money and the effort. It taught me alot about myself and what i believe. It gave me the tools to continue educating myself and minister to people.
I liken it to sharpening the axe before you go out and cut down the tree. It was worth it to me and I hope the church I serve.
I said yes. And I believe it.
The VAST MAJORITY of people are not self-starters, are not self-motivated, need some formal system to work within.
There are exceptions. But when I hire still look for degrees as part (not totally) of the process. If I see someone who has bounced all over has started and never finished degrees has job after job...you see where this is going...that tells me something (not everything.)
That said our seminary process needs revitalization. From entrance to commencement to the first five years we need to overhaul it.
Education is the silver bullet for so many issues in life.
Too many people, though, are getting degrees and debt with no education. As far as I can tell no seminary allows this though. I graduated seminary with no debt. My degree has made my life and calling possible.
What I gained in seminary benefits me daily. Anyone who tells me their seminary didn't matter to them tells me a lot about them.
I voted that the degree was worth the paper. I have a BA in Bible, a two year diploma from a Japanese language school, and a regionally accredited MA in Biblical Studies. All three are of great value to me in my ministry.
Here is my caveat. The Bible has in many passages what I will call a tri-ology: knowledge, understanding and wisdom. In academic study you can obtain knowledge and understanding, but only incidentally wisdom. Knowledge by itself is a two-edged sword, necessary for the ministry but tending to cause pride (1 Cor. 8:1). But the knowledge one receives from academic study gives mental strength (Prov. 24:5). Understanding is a step up in importance from knowledge, and is also necessary for ministry.
However, "Wisdom is the principle thing" (Prov. 4:7). The average believer in the pew can have wisdom if he pursues it from the Word of God, even without academic training or degrees. I'm sure we've all known many Christians with little training but great wisdom. And I believe when we get to Heaven what will matter most at the Bema Seat is whether or not we have been wise in serving Christ with what we have. We won't be judge on our degrees.
I am currently corresponding with an African pastor with no education who wants to come to Asia as a missionary. Will I advise him to get a theological education? Yes. Will he be able to get a master's degree or above? Very probably not. Those who trumpet advanced education as a sine qua non for a pastor are Americo-centric. They don't realize that in the greater part of the world a master's degree is impossible for a pastor to obtain.
Great post John.
When I was a boy my next door neighbor was a very devout Christian. Nobody in my family was a Christian, so I used to talk to him. He was a very simple fellow who worked a dirty job making tar paper, but he knew the Bible cover to cover.
I remember one day when I was a teen I complained about some Christians being hypocrites. He said, "Well, if you ever find the perfect church, don't go there, you'll ruin it!"
That shut me up then and there. He had a way of doing that.
You know, I find myself arguing against scholarship, and I am not against it. I personally love to study the scriptures and would love to take some college courses. My pastor teaches such courses along with several other pastors but I don't have the time or money at present to take them.
You nailed it with wisdom (Prov 4:7). Knowledge is good, but knowledge puffs up. Knowledge can be used in the wrong way. Wisdom is knowing that we know little. Wisdom is using the little knowledge we have the right way. You can be right and offend a brother so he will never talk to you again. Wisdom is knowing when to lay off.
This is just the kind of Christian I was thinking about--maybe can't tell you much about the Sadducees historically, but has probably memorized hundreds of verses--and lives by them!
"Scholarship" means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ideally, to me scholarship means having the tools to seek the truth about a certain issue. My son just had the prospectus for Ph. D. thesis approved. The bibliography for his prospectus alone is 21 pages in about 5 different languages! He has the tools now because of his seminary education to do a genuinely scholarly project on the Greek of 1 Peter (esp. 2:2).
While we are proud of all of this as parents, we want him to never stop seeking God's wisdom. Because of this, when I learned a couple of years ago who his mentor was to be in the Ph. D. program, I was delighted. His mentor is a well known Greek scholar who takes missions trips to Ethopia every year! The man has knowledge, understanding and wisdom--all three!