M. Div. With or Without Languages and Martin Luther

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, May 5, 2010.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To all who have an ear:

    Please see the following article/quote by Martin Luther. The question I pose is this?

    Is there a need for an M.Div. degree "without Languages?" Seems like a misnomer, oxymoron, or some such, to me! An M.Div. "without languages" is not much, if any better than my 96 Hour Diploma of Theology I earned from Mid America in the mid 1980s.

    Let me hear your thoughts!

    http://eric-carpenter.blogspot.com/2010/05/luther-on-original-languages.html

    Luther said it well, I cannot improve on it. I believe--he would believe that a pastoral/preaching/ministry degree without Biblical Languages would be just near about worthless too!!! :smilewinkgrin:

    "That is all!"
     
    #1 Rhetorician, May 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2010
  2. Havensdad

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    Rhet,

    I believe that learning the Biblical languages is invaluable (which is why I am learning them!). However, I think that Martin might well have changed his mind, had he seen the tools at which we have at our disposal today.

    I do not think that the average small church pastor, NEEDS to learn the languages. My Pastor knows neither Greek nor Hebrew, but he does quite well. So, yes, I believe there is a place for an M.Div. without language studies; at least formal language studies. I think they should include, at a minimum, the "Greek Language tools" and"Hebrew Language tools" classes, which teaches the decidedly non-fluent to use the expansive language tools available today.

    I do NOT think that such an M. Div. should gain one entrance to higher degrees, however. This should be a terminal "pastoral only" degree.
     
  3. Edward 1689er

    Edward 1689er
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    Dear Brother,

    Please get the M.Div. with BL. Blessings!
     
  4. TomVols

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    In my opinion, no pastor should step in to a pulpit without working knowledge of the Biblical languages. I'm not saying they should have expert knowledge (though that is preferable) but at least enough to use the tools for sound exegesis (not just a word study here or there - this is the worst kind of knowledge). John Piper's "Bitzer was a Banker" article in "Brothers, We are Not Professionals" should be enough to silence the critic. To intentionally shun the languages is to intentionally shun the Bible.

    I know there are many who have done well without language study. But these are exceptions. I'm just not for dumbing down or watering down anything for sake of ease. I say all this knowing I wish I'd had more training in the languages.
     
  5. preachinjesus

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    A pastor who has an MDiv w/o Languages is kinda like a lawyer who never passed the bar exam.

    He can definitely understand the law but he can't effectively prosecute it's ends.
     
  6. sag38

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    Here we go again playing my degree is better than your degree. I am a superior pastor and more qualified for the pulpit because took baby Greek and you didn't. (Baloney!!!) Seems that when I read in I Timothy and Titus that there is no requirement for a formal education let alone training in a classical language. And, it didn't take a working knowledge of any language except English to figure that out.

    Now, there's no doubt that Biblical languages are useful and can give a pastor another tool to use in Bible study. They are a great aid. But, to demean anther's degree because of a lack of a Biblical language reeks of arrogance and some of these posts demonstrate that attitude quite well.
     
  7. TomVols

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    I would assert that the arrogance comes from the other direction. You can't say that knowing the languages is good, and then bristle at calling a degree where you acutally learn the languages good. That's like saying eating healthy is good, but don't shop at health food stores or the health food section at your local grocery store, and don't grow healthy foods at home in your garden.

    I've yet to meet a single soul who knew the languages who regretted it. The best analogy is like watching a program on a black and white tv vs watching on a plasma HDTV. You glean a lot more from the latter than the former.

    I don't think it's demeaning to say a degree w/o BL is not quite as good as a degree with, all else equal. All degrees are not equal. Far too many want an easy credential without having to do the blood, sweat and tears, wrestling with the texts and laboring before the Lord. And I know, I know...there's no seminary requirement in 1 Tim 3 or Titus 1. It's a red herring because that's not the question at hand.

    Again, at the end of the day, we have to admit we've fallen away from a place and time where baptists wouldn't dream of ordaining a soul who did not have a level of preparation requisite for ministry. We've watered down so much in modern times, to the detriment of pastor, people, and Kingdom alike.
     
  8. sag38

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    In my opinion, no pastor should step in to a pulpit without working knowledge of the Biblical languages.

    Your opinion is extra Biblical and demeaning to thousands of pastor across the United States and through out the world who have no working knowledge of Greek or Hebrew.
     
  9. Havensdad

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    I agree. This, in fact, is a slap in the face to MY pastor, who knows neither Greek, nor Hebrew...but is probably the most godly pastor I have ever known.

    Sound exegesis can be done, with NO knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. The idea that exegeting God's word requires some kind of university level knowledge, is a decidedly un-Baptist idea, besides. Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, is rather like having a very good set of commentaries. It is an excellent tool, but is completely optional.
     
  10. preachinjesus

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    Maybe I'm at a loss to wonder why someone would want to take up the great calling of God to shepherd a congregation of God's people through the exposition of God's Word without fully preparing themselves to understand the entire story.

    Why would anyone not want to be fully trained to take up the task of exegeting Scripture to its fullest intent?

    God calls ministers to be excellent in their calling, lifestyle, practice, and education. When we are handling God's Word why would we desire to go halfway?

    Besides, the best homilectians I know immerse themselves in the languages (though that might not come out in their actual exposition.) Why would anyone not want to take up the languages?
     
  11. preachinjesus

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    Well as others have said, not all degrees are equal. In considering a future pastor would you want them to educated the best or the least?

    I don't know how you can require a modern innovation for a first century text. If you know of any Theological Seminaries contemporary of the Pauline text please let us know.

    I don't see anyone demeaning someone...well except your constant assertion that to promote excellence in ministry training is unbiblical. I don't understand that issue at all. If you were to talk with a young man entering pastoral ministry (in his 20s and 30s) would you recommend a full MDiv with languages or not? Why?

    If you neglect the languages in your training you cripple yourself for the rest of your ministry. That is plain and simple. You aren't less called, you aren't less sanctified, you aren't less qualified, you aren't less a Christian, you aren't less a person...but you do have a handicap when it comes to ministry. You have to take someone else's word for what you read. Now with the plethora of biblical resources available this becomes easier. But what happens when you encounter the very real problem of the subjective genitive? How do you reconcile it in regards to the nature of our salvation? Is it "faith in Christ" or "faith of Christ"?

    In my preparations for teaching and preaching I am lashed to the original text. My method is my own but it undergirds the entire exegetical process. Do you know how rich the biblical text is, in the original languages? It is so full of truth I weep for men who are unable to see the beauty of God's inspired words as reveal in the text of Scripture. The other day I was working through a particularly difficult section of Galatians. I was diagramming and suddenly realized that Paul's point is related to a verse far above where I was. Because of the nature of Greek he had implied a verb (and participle) through the text. It immediately sealed his thought together. It was a Holy Spirit empowered moment imho. I am sad that people miss that.

    So why do we approve of men handicapping themselves out the door of ministry? I just wonder why we can't encourage and strive for excellence at all levels of ministry.

    You read Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, etc etc etc you see rich pastor-theologians who were confident in their exposition because they were confident in the text. I challenge anyone to show me how not knowing the languages makes one a better homilectian.
     
  12. Havensdad

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    The problem I have with what you are saying, is that you are painting with too broad of strokes. First of all, not everyone is capable of learning two additional languages. I am sorry, but God did not just call people of certain intelligence to preach and pastor...God called both educated men (like Paul) as well as simple fishermen.

    Is an M.Div. with languages, as good as an M.Div. without? I don't know...what 6 classes (9 hours in both Greek and Hebrew) are you removing from the curriculum, to add the languages? What is that person missing out on, in order to study Greek and Hebrew?

    Yes, it is better to have the languages...for some people. For others, who would struggle for years with them, and still not have them mastered, it might be better to concentrate on a different area. It all depends on the person...personally, I do not think one should have to be a genius, potential Phd candidate to be a pastor. Which is why I suggested, that for those who are not of a caliber for higher studies, a terminal M.Div. without a bunch of language requirements, might be appropriate.
     
  13. TomVols

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    perhaps. But so is yours.
    A patent falsehood. I never demeaned anyone. I simply said that in my humble opinion, every pastor should have a working knowledge of the languages for optimal ministry. You may disagree, but it's simply that. You cannot claim my opinion to be void of fact by elevating your own to that level. And you've yet to provide a Biblical reason why a pastor should not be a sound exegete, nor explain your double-speak.
    No it isn't, and frankly I'm disappointed this comes from you Havens. You know better. I don't know your pastor so I am not fit to measure his godliness. I just said that all pastors should have a working knowledge of the languages. Eisegete and extrapolate as you will, but it's your words and not mine that you work with when you do.
    Complete balderdash. I never said exegesis cannot occur without the languages. But the best exegesis requires knowledge of the languages. And your "university level" knowledge is a red herring at best and / or a strawman at worst. Commentary ownership and usage is still secondhand. It's the difference between reading a book and reading a book review.

    I'd ask you and Sag....must one know English to understand the Bible, particularly, English grammar?

    Again, this is a myth. I've known 12 year olds and under who learned rudimentary Greek and Hebrew. In this day and time where resources abound to learn the languages, we are without excuse. We live in a culture where it's okay to know the contestants on American Idol but not the Bible.

    The biggest problem with what you and Sag are saying is you can replace the languages with almost anything - theology, Bible, etc. - and make the same argument. "Someone's called, that's all that matters" or "After all, they're Godly, so who cares?" Sorry...I can't go there. Would you really want to? I think not. Would you want a pastor who didn't have a working knowledge of the Bible? of sound doctrine?
    Finally, a salient point. I'd argue that you don't have to drop anything. But if you had to, drop one of the "how to do what Rick Warren teaches" classes :laugh: or something of that ilk.
    Funny you say that but deride me for saying it :laugh:
    I'd rather have a struggler than someone who arrogantly dismisses them.
    Bifurcation. Who said pastors are limited to PhD guys? You know better.
    So all of what you'd study in an M.Div (which would include Bible, theology, etc. wouldn't it, all interacting with....yep, Hebrew and Greek) is fine, but jettison the languages? That's just nonsense. The bane of our ministerial prep programs now is they worry too much about the trifles and not enough about the meat and potatoes. We have ministers who know how to supposedly double a Sunday School, but not how to rightly divide the Word. And I'll contend that the latter is more important than the former til my dying day.
     
  14. TomVols

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    Well said. I'd add that all should read "Bitzer was a Banker" in Piper's "Brothers, we are not Professionals" and then get back with us. Also, Sinclair Ferguson's article on the pastor as theologian in Logan's The Preacher and Preaching(as well as Al Mohler's in Akin's Theology for the Church). Gosh..now that I think about it, Jerry Vines's section on this in his Power in the Pulpit, Ramesh Richard's section in Preparing Expository Sermons....I could go on....they're must reads for those who dare handle God's precious Word
     
  15. sag38

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    Tom, you said no pastor should step into a pulpit without...... I don't have to prove anything from the Bible. You are the one placing an extra biblical requirement on every pastor that God has ever called. You can call it what you want but I call it educational arrogance. The snobbery of the some of the so called educated is sad. Anyway, we will just have to agree to disagree.
     
  16. TomVols

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    Sag, I notice you left my questions unanswered. Perhaps you missed them or just didn't answer. Either way, no problem. Just curious on my part.

    1. I think that first sentence speaks voulmes. You have intimated, IMHO, that your opinion was more faithful to Scripture by deriding my opinion as "extra Biblical." I would assert that this is snobbery and arrogance, elevating weak preparation and laziness or whatever else it might be called over someone being diligent to show themselves approved unto God.
    2."Extra Biblical" would describe both our positions. That's no news. What is at stake is whether my assertion that men of God are best equipped when they know the Scriptures and the languages thereof is true or not. I believe such is necessary and useful. You and Havensdad say it is useful but not necessary. I disagree.
    3. I would prefer you retract your unfounded assertion that I have demeaned those who do not have a working knowledge. I did no such thing. If my opinion is THAT powerful.....:smilewinkgrin: Seriously, I'm not saying that there aren't good men in the pulpit out there who wouldn't know a Kittel's if it bit them. All I meant was (and you and Haven talk like you agree with this at times) is that all pastors would be best served and most equipped when they have at least a working, basic knowledge of the languages fit for using the best tools to understand the God-breathed Word. I do not apologize for this.
     
    #16 TomVols, May 6, 2010
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  17. Havensdad

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    Tom, come on bro. You specifically said...

    "In my opinion, no pastor should step in to a pulpit without working knowledge of the Biblical languages"

    That is a lot different than saying "I think all Pastors should study the languages." The logic of your sentence above, though perhaps not intended by you, would say that my Pastor should not be preaching right now. And that is wrong.

    Also: we are commanded by scripture to study theology and doctrine. So you cannot compare those things to studying languages, which are not commanded. I agree with you about all the "church growth" nonsense, but I would put a biblical evangelism and discipleship course above the languages in importance, any day of the week...again, we are commanded to spread the gospel and disciple; not commanded to study the languages.
     
  18. TomVols

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    Actually, you're saying "Tom, I think you're saying...." and then responding to that caricature. I truthfully don't see much substantive difference in the two sentences. Don't read into them. If I'd said ".....and any pastor w/o this must resign" or something on that order, then you'd have a gripe.

    I could bait this out and let you fall in the trap, but I'll cut to the chase: we are to know sound doctrine by knowing the Word. You cannot claim we are commanded to know the truth of the Word without knowing the Word, and you further cannot claim that language facility is not a means to that furthering that end.
    I don't deny the helpfulness of the former. However, in our pragmatic world in which we live, we have far too much dependance on the writings of Andy Stanley than we do on the writings of Paul. If we'd let Jesus teach us about church growth as readily as we would Malphurs, Young, et.al., we'd be better off. So I'm forced to disagree with you here. Being "mighty in the Scriptures" pays off all the way around. The Word of God will always trump pragmatism in my mind.
     
  19. preachinjesus

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    Maybe the best question here is: would you want your senior pastor (who you hear preach at least once a week) to know or not know the original languages? Why?
     
  20. preachinjesus

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    I have a good pastor friend who is highly dyslexic and he has a functional understanding of the languages. He has had to work hard at them, but he is absolutely committed to using them as a foundation in his preparation.

    Keep in mind I am not saying people should be able to read and write the thing without aid, but I am saying you need to have the tools and understanding of the languages to be able work (however slowly or quickly) through a text. It really isn't that difficult.

    Friend, I know MDiv curriculum and have looked at many different programs. Trust me when I say the work done in those six courses are never matched by any other course. That said we also have too much junk in our MDiv programs right now. We need to re-evaluate it all.

    Oh, have you checked out DTS' ThM. Its 120 hours and, frankly, the best ministry preparation degree I can think of right now.

    So we should appeal to the lowest common denominator for ministry. A "its okay you're just not smart enough" approach for our pastor-theologians (I think the office is combined btw.)

    I don't know any pastor who uses the languages who hasn't struggled with them. They are difficult. But that doesn't make it not worth it.

    I think we need profoundly theologically trained men leading our churches who can exposit the Bible with vigor, humility, and certainty in their conclusions. We don't need a bunch of halfway-hanks who only do so much until they get pushed. Christ's calling pushes us towards being excellent and wonderfully trained.

    So if it is better for a pastor to have the languages (as you have said)...and realizing that some come to ministry later in life...why is it not ideal to have and require our young preacher boys in seminary in their 20s and 30s to do the languages and require it?
     

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