Master of Divinity Mini Discussion

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Hello all,

    There was a recent post concerning what type and amount of education one seeking to go into the pastoral ministry should acquire. At least that is the way I interpreted it. I frequent the SBC blogs and ran across the following opinion. You must scroll down in order to read it but it is worth the effort.

    For the record I have the MDiv degree and I do advocate for it. Two major leaders of the SBC, seminary presidents, also lobbied for the MDiv degree saying something to the effect that it is the "gold standard" of what was needed for a young man to pastor. This too I believe to be the minimum, and that from a very rigorous and accredited program. I hesitate to publish this but do so hoping some will be convinced of the worth of the degree and the education. Although it may seem to be a negative observation on the degree, I thought it worthy to throw it out into the mix.

    Please consider:

    http://sbcvoices.com/sbc-dinosaur-s...ail&utm_campaign=Feed:+SbcVoices+(SBC+Voices)

    Ideas and angry exhortations welcome.

    rd
     
  2. TCassidy

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    I too believe the M.Div. is the bare minimum to qualify a man for the pastorate. However, the Seminary I attended also offered a Th.B. degree which was academically similar to the M.Div but did not require a BA/BS as a prerequisite, only required two semesters of Greek and did not require any Hebrew at all.

    Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has trimmed their M.Div. from 96 credit hours to 81 credit hours. That may be a move toward eliminating some classes with little or no practical application in vocational ministry.

    I have actually moved in the opposite direction from the author of the article you linked. I not only believe the M.Div. is the basic and first professional degree, I also think most vocational pastors, after 3 - 5 years of full time vocational ministry should also seek the second professional degree, the D.Min. MBTS, as mentioned above, has a D.Min. program of 30 credit hours above an ATS accredited M.Div, MACE, or MRE.

    But there are still a lot of Baptists who view higher education as a negative rather than a positive. To many, "scholarship" is a dirty word. :)
     
  3. gb93433

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    I would contend that the one basic implied requirement for a pastor must be one who makes disciples. If he is not making disciples he is not qualified to lead a church. The Bible teaches if he cannot lead in a small way then how can he take care of and lead the church of God. I would also contend that most churches are not biblical in their leadership and direction. They have members who were not Christians when they were baptized and are immature today and vote. The most mature should have the authority not a pew sitter to decide the direction of the church. I find in no place in scripture where leaders of a church were elected and I see no place where leadership is a democracy done by a majority vote.
     
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  4. Revmitchell

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    "To qualify a man for the pastorate". Talk about extra biblical. What ever happened to Sola Scriptura?
     
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  5. Baptist Believer

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    I get uncomfortable when someone declares a certain degree a "gold standard." A person fulfilling their calling should pursue as much education as possible - not only in the formal classroom setting, but as a lifelong student of the humanities and sciences.

    To be blunt, I went to a Southern Baptist seminary and the M.Div work was not as challenging or deep as my undergraduate studies in theology. For a lazy student, getting an M.Div in seminary can easily be an exercise in perseverance, not scholarship or practical learning. As in all educational programs, there are people who will squeak by and game the system so as not to actually learn much, yet eventually hold a degree.

    On the other hand, there are people who have not had many opportunities but have taken advantage of every opportunity for education, who are brilliant, creative, knowledgeable, and of superior character. God also uses those persons in ministry.

    Being a disciple of Christ is an education in itself. I believe a person who knows and walks with Christ can be an effective pastor. At the same time, disciples of Jesus seek opportunities to love God with their minds, so they will pursue education as well. Writing rules for what form that takes is not always helpful.
     
  6. Rhetorician

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    Do you know whom thou quotest? Those who formulated the "Five Solas" from the Reformation were all trained in the Trivium, Quadrivium, Classics, and most would have known Hebrew, Classical and Common Greek, Latin; and were all degreed beyond what I have!!! Sola Scriptura cannot be pulled out of the entire system and shown to be the prettiest piece of yarn in the tapestry. It was one thesis not the whole of the argument for the Reformation.

    So is your question a rhetorical question or an actual question? Please let me know? I am not sure as if I know you are agreeing with the MDiv from an accredited school argument or no?

    Please advise when possible.

    Your friend.

    rd
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    You know, I am pretty plain spoken. I'm not hard to understand. Further I quoted no one.
     
  8. TCassidy

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    He was quoting me. He likes to stalk my posts and disagree with them regardless of how much intrinsic merit they contain. :D:D:D:D:D
     
  9. TCassidy

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    The President of the seminary I attended used to say, "He whom God calls to preach, He calls to prepare." Paul had a Ph.D. from the Gamaliel School of Theology in Jerusalem. Yet he still spent 3 years in the wilderness learning directly from the Lord.

    Preparation, formal if available, personal if not, and formal should include personal as well.
     
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  10. JonC

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    I agree. I think that we have, as Piper complained, professionalized the ministry. That is not, of course, to say that a pastor should not have a biblical education. He must have at minimum the ability to hold firm and teach biblical doctrine (Titus 1:9). I do not believe that the standard is necessarily a MDiv or a DMin. Those degrees can serve as an indication that one meets the biblical qualifications of pastor (the “gold standard”), but do not mean that the holder is qualified or one not possessing such degrees are less qualified.

    I’ve sat under preachers who were well educated (doctorate), great preachers, but horrible pastors. I’ve sat under preachers with a good education (undergrad degree in religion, or a masters but not a MDiv) who were good preachers and excellent pastors. I prefer the latter (and I mean subjectively, based on my experience....I have met many "doctor preachers" who I still love to hear preach, but I have not met one yet that proved to be a good pastor....but I'm sure they are out there).

    I do not believe churches should make the MDiv a minimum standard, but instead should prayerfully consider all candidates God puts in their path. And I agree with TCassidy - those called to a task are called to prepare for that task. I believe God gives those called into the ministry a heart for the ministry and they will not only desire to learn but will apply themselves to that learning.
     
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  11. Revmitchell

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    Most churches are small and do not have such standards. Usually big churches will hold that as a minimum standard. Churches tend to treat the finding of a new pastor like buying a new car, the more they can afford the more bells and whistles they want. In some cases it is just plain old pragmatism. Sometimes that can become an idol as well.
     
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  12. TCassidy

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    Doesn't that go without saying?
     
  13. JonC

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    It should, but unfortunately I do not believe that it does.

    There's a church a town over. It's a small church (a little under 100 members) and the pastor left (I don't know why). They have been struggling to find a pastor for over a year. They want a full time pastor but will only consider a pastor with a MDiv (but prefer a DMin) and at least 5 years experience as a senior pastor. I understand making minimum requirements, but I also believe that churches need to be open to whomever God calls to the ministry. There could be a pastor seeking his first church but only possessing a Bachelor degree from a baptist college who is excluded from consideration. I think that we are preventing leadership development in our churches. Churches want pastors with a seminary education (I do agree this is important), with years of experience, etc., and for pulpit supply they lean towards retired pastors....I just do not see very much room for developing our own ministers. And I know several who have seminary degrees but can't find a church to serve because they lack experience. Now....for seminary professors I think that a minimum degree requirement is absolutely necessary.

    So no, I don't think that this does go without saying...but I agree it should.
     
    #13 JonC, Sep 25, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  14. JonC

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    I just thought of this....at my last church we had one man called into the ministry. He experienced the obstacle of no experience as a pastor. I don't really agree with his solution, but this is what he did:

    He approached our pastor and asked that he be ordained as our "connections and outreach pastor" (we didn't have one of those). He was not to be paid, and really was not to have a role in the church save the title. So he was ordained and "served" as a pastor, and having filled that position for 3 years he was able to fill a need as a pastor in another church.

    I believe that we need to make sure that pastors are educated and trained. But I also believe that the "professionalization" of the ministry has contributed to the failure of many churches today.
     
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  15. TCassidy

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    But that is not, of course, the topic. The topic is the Master of Divinity degree and its relevance to pastoral ministry.

    I did not feel the need to add, "And, oh, he can't be a child molester." Or "And he can't be a drug dealer." Or, "And he can't be a porn star." And then assume because you didn't mention them they are okay with you. :)

    It is understood that we were talking about the first professional degree and its impact on pastoral ministry. The a priori assumption is all else being equal.

    Is that church represented in this thread? Why bring in anecdotal discussion? In law that is called "parole evidence." It is evidence that is outside the scope of the inquiry that is used to try to change the intent of the original agreement. :)
     
  16. Squire Robertsson

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    This sounds like what happens on Property Brothers. A couple first gets shown a house that fits their specifications on a turn key basis. Then they get told the price which turns out to be way above what they can afford. So, they have to go to the fixer upper market.
     
  17. JonC

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    I disagree as I believe we were speaking of the MDiv as a standard rather than it's impact.

    What you said was “doesn’t that go without saying?” to my comment that “I do not believe churches should make the MDiv a minimum standard, but instead should prayerfully consider all candidates God puts in their path.” If you look at my comment, the primary statement is that I do not believe the MDiv should be a minimum standard. That is not adding anything to the topic.

    Insofar as bringing in anecdotal discussion, you are the one who said “Paul had a Ph.D. from the Gamaliel School of Theology in Jerusalem. Yet he still spent 3 years…” when Paul was, in fact, not a pastor. :)

    What I was trying to do (apparently unsuccessfully) was present a couple of “real life” examples to illustrate my point that some churches do in fact use the MDiv as a minimum qualification thereby excluding those who have not obtained that education (there are more examples on the SBC website job search).

    The only reason for my example to be merely anecdotal (or “parole evidence”) is if this discussion is merely academic and divorced from the “real world”. If that is the case, then this thread substantiates my complaint as the "real world" gives way to the language of our law courts and theory that is not reflective of reality. What happens, I believe, when we fall into that trap is we end up with a pastoral model that is blind to the places “where the rubber meets the road” as “pastors” assume roles more akin to CEO than shepherd. :Smile

    The caveat is that I believe the OP is not dealing with the impact of the MDiv as a first professional degree but instead the requirement of a MDiv as a qualification in the local church.
     
  18. JonC

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    I'm afraid that is what it is coming to. Large churches have higher educated people because they can afford the professional services of an academic pastor. Small churches can't afford these professionals so they have to settle for the less qualified "pastor" who probably knows God's call and disciplined study can never substitute for formal education. I mean, if you are sick wouldn't you rather go to a doctor who graduated medical school than have Uncle Bubba try to fix you up in the back of his garage?

    Before anyone replies, I know I'm pushing it there. I am a seminary graduate (who, BTW, would have made a horrible pastor right out of seminary). I have no argument against the value of a seminary education. I just do not agree that a MDiv should be considered an educational "standard" for a pastor. It is a benefit, not a "standard".
     
  19. Revmitchell

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    The primary standard for a pastor should be biblically qualified, Spiritually filled, and the heart of God for his people. Can a man of God rightly divide the word of God without a formal education? Youbetchya!
     
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  20. TCassidy

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    Paul spent 3 years in the wilderness. The M.Div is (traditionally) 96 credit hours, or 3 years. I thought the correlation was obvious. I guess not. And Paul pastored the church at Ephesus for over three years (Acts 19:1, 10; 20:31).

    Then one or the other of us has misunderstood the intent of the OP.

    Jon, my initial response was my gentle way of suggesting you often go off on rabbit trails, reading into the OP or into posts subsequent to the OP, things that are just not there. It is my subtle way of saying "focus, focus." :)
     

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