The Church and Higher Education: Conflict or Compliment

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    2
    To all who have an interest in training young ministers:

    The following is part one of a transcribed speech Dr. Davey delivered at the annual Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) Conference in November of 2009. It will appear at SI in three parts.

    Here is the hyperlink: http://sharperiron.org/article/church-and-higher-education-conflict-or-complement-part-1

    It was given by:
    Stephen Davey is the senior pastor at Colonial Baptist Church and President of Shepherds Theological Seminary, as well as principal Bible teacher on the “Wisdom for the Heart” broadcast. After earning a Master of Divinity degree from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, Stephen and his wife, Marsha, moved from Dallas to Cary, NC and started Colonial Baptist Church. Colonial is now a thriving church with three Sunday morning services and more than 2500 members. In 2003, Stephen and the elders of Colonial founded Shepherds Theological Seminary.

    It was given at a TRACS Conference. It is quit good and probably should be read by all who seek to strike the tension between education of young, called ministers in the Church context vs. the training received in a Bible college, seminary, or grad school of religion.

    It was found at shaperiron.com or SI.

    I think you will find it informative and invigorating.

    Please read, I would love to hear your feedback. This is a topic often debated here at the BB.

    "That is all!" :smilewinkgrin:
     
    #1 Rhetorician, Dec 28, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2009
  2. mjohnson7

    mjohnson7
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent Speech

    Thank you, Rhet. The speech Dr Davey gave was accurate and insightful.

    I wasn't surpised to see him quoting Dr Mohler on several occasions. It certainly appears that the pastor/theologians of yesteryear is what The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is seeking to produce.

    Interestingly, I've heard from several friends in not only the PhD program at Southern, but even their DMin program that those entering the programs who earned their MDiv at other SBC seminaries (Southeastern being the exception) are not used to the high academic standards of Southern and often come out with a token ThM (in the case of the PhD students). One friend in the DMin program at Southern said that at his first seminar there were students turning in handwritten research papers (which did not go well for them)!

    I think a return to the pastor/theologian is desparately needed, not for intellectual snobbery, but to faithfully expound the Holy Scriptures. Many in opposition to the need of formal education point to men like Spurgeon as examples. Men like Spurgeon, in every sense, are the exception, not the rule. It is true that with the internet and other conveniences we enjoy today men preparing for ministry could self educate themselves, but few do. Most of us need the dicipline and accountability of college and seminary to train us to continue down a path of life long education. As well, few ministers have the work ethic of Spurgeon either!

    I fear I've gotten off track!

    Thanks for the post, Rhet! LOL!!
     
    #2 mjohnson7, Dec 29, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2009
  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    One of my former pastors taught homiletics as an adjunct professor at nearby Mid-Continent University. But he did something else that appealed to me. He became a mentor to several of the young ministerial students in the College of the Bible. On Sundays after lunch, he would gather them at the church for an afternoon of teaching. I don't know all that he did with these young men, but one Sunday afternoon, he took them to the baptistry and taught them how to baptize someone without drowning them.

    On occasion, he would let one of these young men preach. I suspect there was feedback and critique, not just for content, but for style as well.

    I'd love to hear about more pastors taking these young men under their wings beyond the classroom.
     
  4. Jim1999

    Jim1999
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    15,460
    Likes Received:
    0
    My first Bible College and seminary included student pastorates along with one's studies. For this reason, the seminary had no classes on Mondays.

    The Fellowship I belonged to, senior pastors took on summer students, so when they graduated after 4 years, they had practical experience under their belt.

    On education, it is what the student makes of it. If the student does only what the classes demand, he will fail even if he passes. Education is only the spark that lights the fire.

    We tend to forget, when we compare with Spurgeon, that he had a good academic education under the British system, and he had plenty of support in family and starting library. How many of us start our ministry with a 20,000 volume library?

    Also, early ministries did not have all the side tracks we have in churches to-day. His ministry was given to preaching and teaching the word of God. He taught more along theological lines. He handled inner problems instantly and with conviction.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    I can't imagine why anyone would oppose higher education in the church. If a person is called to be a physician, the least he should have is an MD or DO. If a person wants to be a teacher, the least a person should have is a BA or BS. If a person wants to be a pastor, the least that person should have is an MA or M Div.
     
  6. Jim1999

    Jim1999
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    15,460
    Likes Received:
    0
    The least a pastor should have is a born again experience, a knowledge of the word, and above all a sure calling to ministry.

    A degree is nothing without the former. I, obviously,do not oppose higher learning, but it is not the prior requirement. We are too bent on this degree and that degree.

    Many degreed people preach what they were taught, and far too many, fail to think for themselves. In the early years, many took three years of Bible college and got out on the field. Some were able to take advanced classes. The basic degree was a B.Th. A degree was not a prerequisite for ministry.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Never said it was. I'm simply saying that there should be no opposition to higher learning in the pastorate, and that it's reasonable to set a degree requirment for a person in the role of pastor.

    Your criticism of some in the degreed arena is true, but the same criticism can be laid upon just as many in the nondegreed arena. There just as many nondegreed people in ministry who fail to think for themselves as there are degreed people. Higher learning can equip a person to think for themselves, but if a person refuses to do so from the getgo, that person is unfit for ministry, regardless of their education. On the flip side, a person who refuses to better educationally gird himself so as to be better equipped to serve his congregation is likewise unfit for the ministry. I can't tell you how many nondegreed people scoff at degreed people for no other reason that they are degreed. What's up with that?

    This is one area where I believe denominations such as Presbyterian and Reformed churches got it right. The minimal requirement prior to ordination is a Master's in their related ministerial field. In comparison, we Baptists will often pass out the "pastor" title as though it were a discount coupon to a local eatery.
     
    #7 Johnv, Dec 29, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2009
  8. Crucified in Christ

    Crucified in Christ
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    0
    John
    With all due respect, I just can't agree with you. God calls a pastor and God equips those whom he calls. If a pastor can get an advanced degree- that is a wonderful thing...perhaps even an advantage. The problem that I have is that you speak as if it should be a requirement (saying the least that they should have....). No where in the Scriptures can you find such a requirement- that pastors must have a piece of paper stating that they have obtained a certain level of educational attainment. To prefer is one thing...to add a minimal requirement that the Lord has not stated is, in my humble opinion, treading on an area that God alone is worthy to decide.
     
  9. Havensdad

    Havensdad
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,382
    Likes Received:
    0

    There is a minimal requirement that men be knowledgeable of the Scriptures, and well prepared: not a new Convert. In our modern age, of a "worldwide" society, this is the only way to ascertain adequate preparation. There is certainly nothing wrong with a Church requiring it's Pastor to undergo a minimal amount of training in Scripture.
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,208
    Likes Received:
    192
    I'm in favor of advanced education for preachers, but on many mission fields of the world it is difficult or even impossible to get an advanced degree. In fact, often there is not even a Bible college, just a one to three year Bible institute. On my island of Hokkaido there are no Bible colleges, only a couple of Bible schools for a couple of million people. To get an MA or MDiv you'd probably have to go way down to Tokyo.
     
  11. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    Almost without exception I cannot think of a reason that a young man, living in the United States, who is called by God to be in ministry, should not seek after advanced education.

    Now as one is called into ministry at a later stage in life I believe there is some variation in this...but I have sat in classes next to older men who have made the sacrifice to obtain the education to satisfy their calling.

    That said I will acknowledge a few things:
    1. Too many of our seminary students are pursuing degrees just to get the paper...not the learning and practices that will last a lifetime. (Ironically I know of several guys who did this and are out of ministry already.)

    2. There are way too many people who go and get degrees from diploma mills and try to pass them off to our honest but naive laypeople as of equal worth as other schools.

    3. Too often some guys will go out and get degrees and degrees, then show up at a church and grow it down to nearly nothing (or get removed) because they believe the pulpit on Sunday morning is the perfect time for lecture on the difference between supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism. They need to read and apply Helmut Thielicke's A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. The Sunday morning puplit is a great time to talk honestly about many things, but we must remember our people don't have (or see the need for) advanced theological degrees.

    One of the great things that has been happening in recent years is the broadening availability of online education for realistic growth. I am a big fan of lots of these options. It allows for people, like missionaries in distant locales, to work on and obtain advanced degrees just like they were sitting in the classroom locally. There are some obstacles, but I think we are overcoming them.

    BTW, my alma mater Liberty University has been a leading edge agent in this area.
     
  12. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    2
    Rhetorician Response

    Hey Gang,

    Watching this thread develop has reminded me of why I joined the BB in the beginning. This has been a theme that I believe has not been as well developed as this paper has caused before. I could be wrong?

    But, somehow in Baptist circles (especially in the SBC), we need more "in house training" coupled with the education that the advanced degrees can bring to the table. At least we are talking about it in a productive way.

    I have two degrees from outside of my (SBC) tradition. And I have spent three years in an ecumenical colleague group. And it seems to me, maybe b/c of the Baptist's church autonomy, that the liturgical communions do a much much better job of incorporating the academe with the parish.

    But this kind of paper at a conference and this type of dialogical approach is what is really needed. We have dis(cuss)ed at length from time to time the Regional Accreditation, ATS Accreditation, "Diploma Mills," in seat, on line, in the church context under veteran ministers and all other forms of education here on the BB. But I believe this is one of the most substantive conversations I have had the intellectual pleasure in which to participate.

    Keep up the good dialog.:thumbsup:

    "That is all!" :smilewinkgrin:
     
  13. mjohnson7

    mjohnson7
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    One example....

    Though the school I am about to mention is not accredited, they are by no means a diploma mill (e.g. Andersonville Seminary).

    John Piper's Bethlehem Seminary, a ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church, is doing exactly what is being discussed here. They are intentional about providing rigorous academics with practical ministry application in the context of a local church. Thare are other churches creating an apprentice style program for seminarians, but I do not know of any that have began an actual seminary.

    BTW, I could be wrong, but it appears that those who lean more toward the reformed end of the Baptist tradition are the ones most concerned with filling this need. Any thoughts?
     
  14. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Equipping is the beginning, not the end, of one's calling. God isn't Santa Claus. Equipping isn't a matter of "poof, you're equipped". Equipping is usually a continuing process, not an event.

    It's no different than God calling a person to be a physician. That person doesn't just get called on day one, and get to do surgery on day two. His being equipped requires him to pursue formal study. It's not much different with a person being called to the ministry.
     
  15. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    2
    Midwest Center for Theological Studies

    Brothers (and cistern),

    Here is an "in house" ministerial academy. They have a full MDiv equivalent I believe? They are doing exactly what we are considering here. The last time I looked at their program it was really rigorous. Take a look and get back to me and let me know what you think, and how it would fit into our discussion here.

    The hyperlink is:

    http://www.mctsowensboro.org/

    Check it out. :thumbs:

    "That is all!"
     
  16. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    How many ministers without a seminary education are able to study the Bible in its original languages? What could be more necessary or more practical for a pastor than skills in exegesis? And the best place for that kind of training is seminary.

    Even so, I don't think a pastor needs a degree to be a good pastor. There are far too many examples of good pastors that never had the opportunity to get an advanced education. It is obviously the outcomes - the gained skills - of seminary that is important, not the degree. If seminary is impossible, the skills usually developed at seminary should still be sought. I was a church planter in Siberia for 8 years, and it was almost impossible for the elders to go to seminary. Thus, they were stuck with our training and mentoring, and we worked hard to see that they were well equipped. They are all top-rate pastors today, IMHO. :)
     
    #16 Siberian, Dec 30, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2009
  17. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    2
    Siberian Response from Rhetorician

    Siberian,

    Good to hear from you. I am not sure I have ever discussed a topic with you before. Welcome to this thread.

    Side bar, but not to get the thread derailed:

    I came to Russia in 1996 with The International Church Planters, a ministry of one of the profs at Mid America, Dr. Steve Wilkes and one of his then students, Dr. Troy Bush. I went to Kirov and taught in a Pastor's Training School. The school taught the basic skills needed to "do the ministry." I taught Biblical Exegesis/Hermeneutics. FYI! You may know about the ICP endeavors.

    Back to the task at hand:

    I agree in the main with what you have said. But, if you consider the MDiv degree, it would take about 20 years of mentoring with good men and personal experience to get the gist of what the degree grants in 3 years or 90 sem. hours.

    I must put in a plug here (as well as an example):

    One of the best in recent church history who made a dynamic impact for succeeding generations is John Bunyan. He is absolutely an amazing man as all may know. Can you imagine doing and knowing all the Scripture he did without any modern "Bible helps." He had no formal education and was considered uncouth by the educated ministers of his day. And he did alright I would say. My pastor and I are about to submit an introductory bio volume on Bunyan to the publisher next week. The title, if you are interested is: Venturing All on God. Most do not know that Bunyan wrote 60 volumes total in his life. Amazing!!!

    So, it can be done w/out formal education. But for the most of us, we need the "seat time," "mentor time," or the best combination of both.

    "That is all!" for what it is worth! :smilewinkgrin:
     
    #17 Rhetorician, Dec 30, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2009
  18. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    As has been said, there was a time when the church and academy (for lack of a better word) worked together much more seamlessly. The seminary would teach languages and theology, but a mentor would teach how to baptize or how to administer the Lord's Supper, or how to moderate a business meeting. Over time, the church gave its mission entirely to the seminary/academy. Some picked up the practical mantle and took it to the far extreme, forgetting theology. Some kept theology and threw the newly minted M.Divs to the wolves, letting them learn by the seat of their pants. I fortunately received practical mentoring, as well as practical training and theological education where I attended.

    I have mentored young men who could not attend school or early on before they attended. I've mentored some after they graduated. There is no reason that a person cannot get practical mentoring at the seminary. But there's no good reason the church should not be involved in theological/ministerial education. But yet, the church isn't in large measure. A return of the Pastor-theologian would help immensely. And this: we should rememeber that the highest form of ministry takes place in the local church/mission field. (I suspect I'm going to get some darts over that one). :smilewinkgrin:
     
  19. Jim1999

    Jim1999
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    15,460
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tom, I tend to agree with you. Everything in ministry centres around the local church functioning and the people who make up that church.

    There are many ways to preach "theologically". We can stand in pulpit, before a great mixture of people, and spout off all the theological terminology, and accomplish nothing beyond showing how much we know. Or, we can speak in the language of the people we serve and build on understanding.

    After more that 50 years in ministry, I cannot count on one hand, when I had a congregation before me who would understand the nuances of common theology. For the majority part, a complete knowledge of what the Bible is saying, will suffice in any sermon we preach. Understand your people and preach to their needs.

    Wednesday night prayer meeting is a good night to speak on other topics in more depth.

    So we learned Greek and Hebrew and this helped us to better understand the scriptures. What good is it to the average pew sitter? So, we can quote a few Greek words, but to whose benefit is this? Lets stop kidding ourselves. This is not beneficial preaching!

    This takes us back to basic Bible College courses which stress Bible knowledge, and perhaps best equip a man to pastor a church. There are prolly members to handle government and financial issues. So, I don't even have to add two and two as a pastor!

    Some have mentioned the Reformed and Presbyterian associations demanding a Master's Degree as a minimum before ordination. Show me where these congregations have a better Bible knowledge than the average Baptist pew sitter! It can't be done. Now, maybe things are different in the USA, but it is not so in Canada.

    I have to smile when I see some of the "pastoral" offices in some church: Minister of Music, Minister of finance, Minister of Food. There are members who could be activated in any of these tasks, and it would be a better use of the people. Leave the pastoral role to what it ought to be; preaching and teaching the word, counselling, baptisms and the Lord's Supper table. One pastor, one church, one people.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
    #19 Jim1999, Dec 30, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2009
  20. Havensdad

    Havensdad
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,382
    Likes Received:
    0
    It must be different. The average Baptist pew sitter is completely ignorant of scriptural doctrine. They listen to Benny Hinn during the week on TBN, and Baptist preaching on Sunday, and have no idea that the two men are speaking two completely different things...

    On the other hand: Most Reformed Congregations that I know, are taught deep spiritual truths: strongly grounded in theology and doctrine. I am unsure if this is typical, but it has been my experience.
     

Share This Page

Loading...