Education and Pastoral Excellence! Please Read!!!

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To all who have an ear:

    There has been much debate on this section of the BB about "educated clergy" (preachers) vs "uneducated clergy." Sometimes this has even gotten bitter. Strong minds w/strong opinions communicate passionately I suppose.

    Anyway, I am required to read Resurrection Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry by L. Gregory Jones & Kevin R. Armstrong for a colleague group of which I am a part. In Chapter 4 "Resurrecting Excellence in the Pastoral Vocation" on pp.103-04 Simone Weil's essay "On the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God" is quoted at length. It is one of the best articulations of the "why" to do a formal and seminary education that I have seen of late. I quote it here at lenght I hope accurately (typing):

    "Weil insists that academic study is a pearl of great price, worthy of the sacrifice of our time and resources to pursue, because it can prepare us for a more profound engagement with God and others. She makes this argument not by emphasizing the content of what we must know, but rather the capacity we must cultivate in order to be able to pray or to be present to our suffering neighbor. That capacity, the capacity for attention, can be developed through intellectual work, she argues, because such work demands that we make ourselves patiently available to what is other than ourselves. When we develop the capacity to be attentive to grammars and ideas and vocabularies that are not our own, she insists, our capacity to pray and to be present to those who are suffering increases.

    ...My hope for these students is that they come to understand the acadmic work they are called upon to do in divinity school not as...a necessary interruption on their way to the real world of ministry, but as an immersion in a set of practices that will shape their souls and teach them the attentive stance towards all of life which undergirds excellent ministry."

    I know this is written by a woman. And I know some of your minds are made up that education is not needed. And I also know that some of you believe that me and many others on this section of the BB are "eucational snobs." Nonetheless, please take this to heart with an open mind

    I expect many divergent opinions. Please be kind.

    Thinkaboutit!

    sdg!:thumbsup:

    rd
     
  2. Nord

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    I agree Rd. Service calls for some sacrifice. Preparation allows us with the help of the Holy Spirit to communicate the gospel in the most articulate and well thought out manner possible. It does not rule out methods like Chuck Smith's (mentorship) but God has provided so many opportunities for pastoral education. Certainly, there are many problematic clergy on both ends but I have seen quite a few uneducated clergy bring the gospel into disrepute by ignorance and discourgage others from seeing Christianity as anything but a refuge for the uneducated and less intelligent.

    There are now so many options out there. If you have financial difficulty there is South Africa Theological Seminary. There is Liberty U with a great deal of distance education. TRACS has a number of great schools that offer distance learning (BJU soon to be joining that group of conservative schools).

    On a side note, I love TRACS and am biased. They have come a long way since their inception and have been commended by the US Dept of Ed, there are more & more schools willing to accept transfer credit, they are building a solid no comprise Christian accreditor. That is not to say that you will not find an RA preference out there and that has to be taken into consideration when searching for education. I know of one RA accredited University/Seminary that apparently from their catologue will not take anything but RA (no National Accreditors like ATS, TRACS, ABHE). Frankly, I think TRACS is becoming a much more trustable entity where conservative Christian Accreditation (academics) is concerned than ATS. In some sense TRACS poses a threat to ABHE & ATS. I think ATS will continue to serve liberal schools well, while I would not be suprised if TRACS continues to attract solid conservative Christian Schools (like BJU). A TRACS PhD is not out of the possibility since (not sure about BJU), OGS has a Doctor of Philosophy and is a candidate. TRACS may have also accredited Liberty's PhD, EdD programs.

    Nord
     
    #2 Nord, Aug 15, 2006
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2006
  3. El_Guero

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    Here! Here!

    I really did not mean to make others bitter, just because I was right.

    ;)

    I would think that rather than a pearl, the rigorous study of God and the task before ministers is like a diamond. If the knowledge of God is worth having, than it is worth digging for, it is worth spending a lifetime learning how to make its brilliance come out, it is worth getting a second mortgage on your house.

    Indeed, the knowledge of God is worth everything you can sacrifice.
     
  4. Jack Matthews

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    I will heartily agree with that post.

    I feel that I am privileged to have a pastor who continues to study, work on an advanced degree and does it because he wants to please the Lord and be a worthy servant of the church, able to rightly divide the word of truth, as he puts it. It certainly benefits me, partly because after I finished a law degree, I kept going to the divinity school just because I felt like I got a late start on my Bible and Christian walk and that seemed the best place to make it stronger, and it did. If seminary or divinity school does for a pastor what it did for me, then I want my pastor to stay in school as long as he wants to, and I'll go to the mat with the finance committee to come up with the money for him to do it.

    I do think that a strong personal walk with Christ, and a devotional life that depends on the Holy Spirit to speak, and illuminate the scriptures, is of the utmost importance, and goes hand in hand with the formal education. A strong education without a spiritual walk is, well, sort of pointless.
     
  5. Rhetorician

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    Advocates of Not So Much Formal Education

    Hey Gang;

    Those of you who do not see the warrant in much formal education I know have or will be reading this post.

    I invite you to read the quote and then take issue with it; or tell us how it may have made you at least think in a new vein.

    Thinkaboutit!:smilewinkgrin:

    sdg!

    rd
     
  6. TomVols

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    As a sidebar, who is OGS?
     
  7. El_Guero

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    I was gonna ask you?

     
  8. El_Guero

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    TOM!!!

    This is awsome!!! We can set up a seminary in our house . . . make everyone go to Oxford for a week (tour the 'parent' campus) . . . get a tax break . . . and grant our-selves PhD's!!!

    What a cheap way of pretending to be a school . . .

    Their server is down . . .

    http://www.oxnetedu.org/
     
  9. El_Guero

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  10. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    ooops

    they pulled a fast one on us . . . They moved to http://www.oxnet.com/

    And it is running real slow . . .
     
  11. StefanM

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  12. El_Guero

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    Stefan

    According to the talk pages at wikipedia, they were denied accredidation and appealed . . . That is not quite the same thing . . .

    According to their catalog, they will get you permission to read at the library of Oxford - the Bodleian. Since getting a library card at the LOC is not difficult, I doubt they are worth the expense . . .

    and they are a dot org / dot com . . .
     
  13. Nord

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    OGS is Oxford Graduate School. Their PhD requirements are substantial and require residency. Also is not cheap.

    What I do not like is that they smack of a wanna be Anglophile school. I in no way mean that to imply their standards are not good. They appear solid and substntial. Higher than some RA distance learning programs I could name. But I would not want to go around saying I have a DPhil from Oxford....no not that one, the one in Tenn. At any rate, they have candidacy.

    On another note, this is my last post here. I have a deep love for Baptist Theology but have moved in another direction. I now both attend and am ordained in a liturgical denomination. I wish to honor the requirement in this section that you be a Baptist to post.

    Best wishes to all who are seeking to serve the Lord and to do so by improving their education or those who just post here out of interest.

    In His Service,

    Nord
     
  14. El_Guero

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    Nord

    Go with the Lord.

    Wayne
    PS - don't forget to BAPTIZE THEM! And give invitations! Peach the Word - hell fire and damnation! welllll maybe you don't have to be too baptist. But, do heat them up some.
     
  15. El_Guero

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    Rhet

    Still mulling over it all . . .

    I think that we should maintain our scholarship . . .

    Wayne


     
  16. bapmom

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    Rhet,

    Im not against education. However, in the quote from your OP it seemed (I could be wrong) that the author put a huge premium on information-gathering. And my concern is just that as Baptists who strive to do what is best we often become hyper-focused on getting information. We seem to begin to equate having information about God with having a relationship with God.

    As we all know, there are numerous examples of people with little to no formal education who had an incredible, vibrant walk with God.....people who we all look up to and respect.

    Im not saying an education is a bad thing, just that we must not equate it to having a relationship with Christ. Perhaps I read too much into her words........?
     
  17. MRCoon

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    I have read this post and hate how those of us "on the other side" have taken on the form of being anti-education.

    I would say for most of us (if not all) that we are not against higher education but against the focus on education. Now I'll speak for myself and say I'm against the idea that education equals religious maturity. I'm against the notion that the more education you have the more religous knowldege you have. I would have to agree with the above poster and say that to say that education shows a level of spiritual walk is ridiculous, sad and would disqualify many of the apostles as having spiritual walks.

    I think we need to be improving ourselves but to have the notion that a Pastor MUST have a certian degree is a sad lie and disservice to many faithful Godly pastors both past and present.
     
  18. j_barner2000

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    Formal education is not always the best solution. I learned more during my teen years outside of school than from classroom instruction. I am more of an active learner than the passive style that is optimized in a classroom setting.

    For some, the structure of the traditional learning methods is definately a good thing. For others, the mentoring/OJT style is better. Still others find that independant study is the optimum solution. Others find that a combination of teaching styles compliments their learning style. Just as God has made us as individuals in our preaching style and method of ministry, He has endowed each of us with various learning styles.

    My early training was provided through mentoring. Currently, I am combining individualized learning with a distance education method, which meets my educational needs at this time.

    I am prepared to adjust the methodology I use, as my situation and needs change.

    One method, which works well for one person may not be the best method for every individual.

    I do not disdain the formal education model. However, it is not the best method for my needs at this time.
     
  19. gb93433

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    There will be people who view seminary as a ticket to a job and others as a help in knowing God better. In learning it is both the student and teacher working together. If one fails, the objective fails.

    There are some areas of study which God has gifted me and others which he has not. Where he has not, requires that I learn from those he has gifted in that area.
     

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