Should Our Pastors Train in Bible College?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Dr. Bob, May 4, 2001.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    BIG PROBLEMS have come from young starry-eyed preacher boys going off to an ifb bible college for four years, parroting what they learned, and then feeling they are "prepared" for the pastorate.

    (1) ANSWER #1 is to go on to seminary, gain insight, education, maturity and a little common sense, then go into the pastorate . .

    (2) ANSWER #2 is train in a University, getting a solid education in the humanities, philosophy, speech, English, history, etc.

    Next, go to train for 4-5 years as an intern with a strong pastor. Learn the Bible languages, counseling and practical theology with a "hands on" approach.

    Then be ordained and go with the full support of that congregation to the mission field, the pastorate, other areas of ministry.

    OF COURSE THERE ARE VARIABLES, but what is your thinking on our present educational training system for pastors?
     
  2. SaggyWoman

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    Or, maybe intern while studying. There is nothing that replaces practical experience.
     
  3. Damon

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    Personally [as a seminary student who studied philosophy in a liberal arts college], I think that the best road is a well-rounded education in the humanities and sciences [natural and social], including theology, philosophy, literature, history, and languages [preferably classical--personally, I studied Greek, Hebrew, and Latin]. This should be followed by a real theology degree. Don't worry about all those preaching classes [most folks I've known have not significantly improved their preaching in that context, and society changes so quickly that we will never be able to teach people how to preach in the way their congregations will want when they get out of school]. Then, after a solid MDiv program concentrating on theology, biblical studies [including languages], church history, ethics, and [brace yourself for the dirty word] liturgics, students can intern under a more qualified minister for several years.

    Actually, Baptists might [I'm going to say something that's on the verge of heresy] be able to learn something from Episcopalians and Catholics in this respect. Every priest I've spoken with has followed some program very much like the one I described above, including assignments under more experienced priests.

    Damon
     
  4. Will

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    Damon,

    Good Post.

    In his excellent but technical book, "Time and Eternity, Exploring God's Relationship to Time," William Lane Craig makes the following observation in the book's introduction. "In the Middle Ages students were not allowed to study theology until they had mastered all the other disciplines at the university, but unfortunately today's theologians generally have next to no training in philosophy and science and so are ill-equipped to address in a substantive way the complex issues raised by God's eternity."
     
  5. SPAM

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    Saggywoman, good point. Practical experience is by far the best approach. How that is obtained varies greatly of course.

    I am all for people learning all they can, but experience is key.

    Sadly enough, a good majority of our places of higher education are teaching opposite of God's word. And, then there are the secular schools to consider...
     
  6. DocCas

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
    OF COURSE THERE ARE VARIABLES, but what is your thinking on our present educational training system for pastors?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Unfortunately all too many Independent Baptist Pastors are completely unqualified academically today. Many Independent Baptist churches today feel threatened by a well educated pastor. Not only have they become non-intellectual, they have become anti-intellectual. I was talking to a deacon from another church the other day and he told me, in reference to pastors, the less education a man has, the better off he is, or words to that effect.

    It seems so many Independent Baptists are poorly educated for a number of reasons. The first is the collapse of so many of the Seminaries into Modernism and Liberalism. As this happened, the College graduates chose not to attend Seminary, but to go right into the ministry after College. This also brought about the Bible College movement. There were insufficient well educated men to start new, non-modernistic, Seminaries, so Bible Colleges sprang up all over the country that tried to fill the gap left by the demise of the Seminaries. These bible colleges were so narrowly focused they failed to provide a good liberal arts education (you can't teach what you don't know), which is, in my opinion, the basis for all higher education. Without that foundation it will be very difficult to develop critical reasoning skills and the graduates will become mere parrots regurgitating what they have been taught without ever thinking about it or questioning it.

    When the Independent Baptist movement began here in the United States, much of the leadership of the new movement decided to start their own colleges and seminaries using the pastoral staff as teachers. As these new schools grew and the leadership began to look for additional faculty members they soon realized the only men who were academically qualified were educated in the old denominational schools, and were thus infected with modernism. In response to this new menace, these school leaders stepped out of the traditional Baptist educational circle and sought faculty from the conservative protestant schools such as Dallas Seminary (Presbyterian), Grace Seminary (Brethren), Westminster (also Presbyterian), and Bob Jones University (Methodist). By using faculty members from these non-Baptist, protestant schools, the leadership created a weak Baptist, pro-protestant, mind-set in their students, who, of course, were the next generation of Pastors, Missionaries, Evangelists, and college and seminary Professors, thus perpetuating, in Independent Baptist schools, the very modernist/ecmenical influence they had established these schools to avoid!

    The solution? I don't know. I was not saved until I was 27 and already had a good education (I was originally a Nuclear Engineer). So, when I went off to Seminary at age 29, at Central, I was much older than most of the students, the majority of which were graduates of Bible Colleges (most from Pillsbury, but a few from BJ, and even one or two from Clearwaters, BBC, Grand Rapids, etc.), they had much more biblical education than I, but I had a much better liberal arts foundation than they. After 10 years of ministry I went on for my Th.M. and Th.D., which was very enlightening for me, but also caused a lot of hardship for me, my faimily, and my ministry simply due to the time required. I would not recommend the path I took, but it does have some advantages. First, a good secular education makes a great foundation for further learning. Second, postponing my seminary graduation until I was well into my 30s provided a more mature man for the ministry. Third, a more mature man is also, usually, more financially secure (especially if he has been employed in the secular field) and does not have to scrape by on a mere pittance, or work two or three jobs to try to make ends meet during his continuing education.

    Unfortunately there are no quick fixes. I presently have about 50 Seminary students, most of whom are in there 30s to 40s, and a couple of them are into their early 50s. They realized, after years of ministry, their educations were inadequate and have taken remedial steps to correct the problem. Unfortunately they have already subjected a couple of decades of church members to their inadequate preperation.

    [ May 04, 2001: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  7. SaggyWoman

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    I am not saying they should not get the academics. I myself have followed that route, but I also hold to the need for practical experience. Academics sometimes leaves our head in the clouds without the reality of day by day trench work.
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    Thanks for the good responses so quickly! Are there others with ideas or with a testimony of what did/did not work for you?
     
  9. tlange

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    I went to Bible College in 1988, graduated in 1992 with an Accredited B.A. degree in Church Ministries. I think that Bible college helped me in a lot of areas, but was not the "cure-all" for all situations. I think that experience can be one of the best teachers.

    I look at how much times have changed, CH Spurgeon never went to college, but trained preachers at The Pastor's College (now called Spurgeons College in London) He saw a need to train young men for the ministry.

    Although I did not agree with everything that happened while I was in Bible college, I have to thank God that I did not end up wounded and hurt like some are on the FFF. Reading some of the accounts of what these people went through in the name of "Christianity" is absolutely unbelievable. It is a shame because the world sees that behavior and runs as far as they can from it!

    Bible college and seminary can be a good thing if kept in the right perspective.

    I think the idea of interning with a pastor is great, the problem is many pastors "are too busy" for such things. I think that the IFB movement would turn out a better product if more people caught on to that type of training!

    [ May 05, 2001: Message edited by: tlange ]
     
  10. rlvaughn

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    When this discussion came up on the "old" Baptist Board, I got into several lengthy discussions concerning colleges and seminaries. I shall try to be brief here, and emphasize just a little different angle. The experiences, good and bad, of people in relation to bible colleges, seminaries, and universities all make quite interesting reading. But we should ever keep in mind that there is no Bible standard of where you get your education (other than the local church which Jesus ordained), or on how much education you should/must have. Each individual case must be judged as an individual case. If we do this, we cannot say that a bible college is better than a university is better than a seminary is better than a trade school is better than...ad nauseum. Was it better that Peter be taught by the Lord during His earthly ministry or that Paul be taught by the Lord in the desert (after receiving a Jewish education) or that Timothy be taught by his mother, grandmother, and the apostle Paul? All circumstances were ordered and ordained of God and each was able to fulfill his calling with the "education" that he had.
     
  11. swaimj

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    I graduated from Piedmont Baptist (then Bible) College in 1988. I started teaching school and working as an assistant in a church in VA and did so for 3 years. In college I was exposed to Bible expositors like MacArthur and Swindoll. The kind of pastoral ministry in which preacing is the process of systematically going through the scriptures, interpreting them and applying them to life was the model set before us in college. I knew I was not at that level and did not see anyone in the circle of IFB churches I was in who was or even desired to be. (And by "that level", I mean someone who preaches systematically through the word and has a good grasp of languages and theology). I knew I needed to go to seminary. After two additional years of teaching in a Bible institute, I became acquainted with the seminary at Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, PA. The Lord has been providing for me as a student there. The church and school are an excellent place to learn the academics and to see practical ministry modeled in a biblical way. I can't wait to see how God will use the tools he is giving me in the future.
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    Swaimj - Thanks for the kudos for a great ifb seminary. Been out to Lansdale for some conferences and was impressed. Do you know one of my preacher boys, Ryan Weberg? He was a joy in the undergrad program at Pillsbury BBC and know he headed your way . . for some of the same reasons!

    I encouraged all of our young pastoral majors at Pillsbury to go to seminary for at least a M.A. This would give them a couple more years of training, Hebrew, a thesis, and maturity. Then add more for an M.Ministry or M.Divinity if they could.
     
  13. TomVols

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    My counsel for young men is simple: seek out a good Bible college or Baptist liberal arts college (My preference is the Bible college route). Attend a school that stresses Biblical/theological studies yet gives practical ministry opportunities. One must have a solid theological foundation before one seeks to pastor or minister. Then if you have the financial means, attend a solid seminary. If someone already has a Bachelors degree, I reccommend seminary studies since there are good ones to attend. If you want further reading about the relationship between ministry preparation and practice, see George Barna's "Today's Pastors." Whether you agree with Barna or not, it's very eye opening.
     
  14. swaimj

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    Yep, Dr. Bob, Ryan is in my Hebrew class this semester. Also his dad Rollie is in preaching class. Both are great guys!
     
  15. dfd2

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    I personally believe that going to a secular university is a plus in that you have to stand up for your faith. Going to a Bible college one gets isolated from the world in that they never have to really live the christian faith as a minority on campus. I also like Spurgeon's advice to do all you can but preach so if a young man has never done anything but go to bible college, seminary then preach has he tried to do ahything but preach. I truly believe that there is real wisdom in working in the "real" world for a while after undergrad. You can get a feel for what it is like for the average person in church you will be able to empathize with there situations at work because you also used to work. During that time you can be used of God in the local church and be mentored by your pastor. Jesus' example of not entering his public ministry until the age of 30 is a good example to folow also in Judiasm a man was not allowed to minister until the age of 30. Finally I believe that after getting an undergrad degree from a secualr school and working for awhile in a job and in your local church if God calls you out then you should get the best seminary education that you can. The ministry is the greatest profession (calling) there is and if people spend years to train in law and medicine shouldn't we as ministers do the same and more for the work of the kingdom?

    p.s. I liked what Dr. Dan Akin said at Southern Baptist Seminary, he said that it is a sin to not get as much education for ministry, if you have the means and ability. If you dont you are sinning against God and hurting the people you will and do serve.
     
  16. TomVols

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by dfd2:

    p.s. I liked what Dr. Dan Akin said at Southern Baptist Seminary, he said that it is a sin to not get as much education for ministry, if you have the means and ability. If you dont you are sinning against God and hurting the people you will and do serve.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I, too, spent time at SBTS under Dr. Akin. He is a great man of God.
     
  17. rlvaughn

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    "I liked what Dr. Dan Akin said at Southern Baptist Seminary, he said that it is a sin to not get as much education for ministry, if you have the means and ability."

    I do not want to reflect on Dr. Akin personally, but if by this statement he meant education in college or seminary, it cannot be substantiated by scripture. But if he meant education in general, he is certainly right on target.
     
  18. Hal Parker

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    How much education would it take to get a typical American up to the academic level of a typical Apostle at the beginning of his ministry?

    The typical Apostle had an understanding of Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. So that would require some serious study in languages.

    The typical Apostle had an understanding of historical context of his times. So that would require some study of history.

    The typical Apostle had an understanding of customs. So that would require some more study.

    And most important an Apostle studied under Jesus for three years. That obviously would require a lot of study.

    So what level of academic training would be required? My guess is we are talking about something in the M.Div. range.
     
  19. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hal Parker:
    How much education would it take to get a typical American up to the academic level of a typical Apostle at the beginning of his ministry?...And most important an Apostle studied under Jesus for three years. That obviously would require a lot of study. So what level of academic training would be required? My guess is we are talking about something in the M.Div. range.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think Hal's post brings out one thing that is defective in the scholastic environment in the USA (and probably most enlightened countries of our time). WE put too much value on the piece of paper that tells us how much study one has had, and too little value on the actual knowledge and wisdom one has. Though the actual knowledge possessed by the apostles is greater than the knowledge possessed by the "graduated" preacher in our day, the preacher could preach in and pastor churches that require certain evidence (a degree) of education and the apostles (with the possible exception of Paul) would not have the evidence (on paper).
    :(
     

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