The model of seminary becoming worldly?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by dan e., Sep 29, 2006.

  1. dan e.

    dan e.
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    I've got a thought for everyone. Just a thought...maybe a concern, but I'm not bashing seminaries, or their undergraduates, in any way.

    Have you ever considered that the current model of training/preparing pastors/missionaries, etc. has become worldly?

    Consider the what our world looks for to achieve success and gain. It takes degrees, experience, internships, etc. I wonder if the seminaries are attempting to do the job that a local church ought to be doing. That is not only discipling new believers, but confirming with that believer's desire to be in the ministry by....actually letting them do ministry at the church. My home church in St. Louis, MO is a good example. The adult minister use to work in the secular world only 6 years ago, or so. He began serving as a leader with Middle School, believed God wanted him to serve the local church full-time, was mentored by the Youth Pastor and Senior Pastor, then became the Middle School Pastor, and now is a Pastor to Adults. The current children's minister is now in his position with a very similar story. He was very successful in marketing, but through serving in the youth ministry heard God telling him to do something else in his life. There are many others in that church that have stories like this. A combination of believing in Christ, being discipled and mentored by fellow believers and Pastors, listening to God, and being prepared by the church. It seems a little more reflective of how leaders became leaders in the early church.

    Now, this is not at all to say that seminary is not helpful. In fact, these two men I mentioned have returned to school for further education part time, but the process was much more interactive with the local church's guidance and preparation. The process has turned into leaving the youth group to go to Bible college, from there accepting internships to gain experience, from there to going immediately to Seminary for further degrees (after all, that does make you more qualified, does it not?), and continuing to put your family through financial hardship to pursue a Ph.d so you can get in with the mega-church to make the bigger salary (or even worse, delaying a marriage/family for the sake of a degree). I would never accuse people for intentionally making it this way...but is it not obvious that it has become this way? We are selecting ministers and dubbing them qualified as if we are a business looking for the most success. Hard to argue against, I think. Scary.
     
  2. Brandon C. Jones

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    These concerns have come up now and then in this forum and it seems there are pros and cons to either approach. Methinks you have a little cynicism towards those who pursue formal education and their motives for doing so. If your local church has the means and resources available to equip its own leaders, then great do it and do it well. If not, then perhaps there is some value to seminaries after all.

    The early church had leaders who usually knew greek, latin, philosophy, and theology and were capable apologists (i.e., Origen's response to the charges of Celsus or Irenaeus's "Against Heresies," Justin Martyr's works etc.). It seems that many local churches in America don't have the human or monetary resources to educate and equip their leaders as well as seminaries do, so many churches have pooled their funds together to create and/or sustain seminaries that attract good scholars and house a well-stocked theological library.

    There's pros and cons to both approaches and the mixed fruit (good and bad) that both systems produce show that neither approach is perfect-they both involve fallen people you know. Hopefully, churches put value in a leader who can help equip each member to grow up to the full stature of Christ. No one believes you need a formal, accredited degree to do this, but some people think that it helps while others do not.

    Welcome to the board :thumbs:
     
    #2 Brandon C. Jones, Sep 29, 2006
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  3. PeterM

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    I would think that it is not an "either, or" but rather a "both, and." The value of a seminary education is invaluable as you have the opportunity to learn and be challenged in a way that is totally unique. The value of discipleship by a one who is farther along is equally valuable. Couple those elements with practical experience and you have the potential of seeing a well rounded and equipped servant who is not only "called" but also trained for the work ahead.
     
  4. Martin

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    ==The main "job" of a seminary is to train pastors/missionaries/future seminary professors. The seminary needs to make sure that its students fit those groups and that the person is ready for seminary study (spiritually, academically, etc). It is the job of the local church, as a body, to "confirm the call" to the individual. God works, I believe, through the body of the church, and inward conviction, to lead a person to seminary study. Once the person is in seminary the school, as a Christian institution and many times as an extension of the church, wants to make sure he/she continues to move forward in their faith.


    ==Not sure what that has to do with anything. The "main" purpose of seminary is theological training (or it should be). Ministry is something you learn, mainly, via experience (thus seminaries require internships, etc). Theology is something you learn through hard study. The more people I come in contact with, who are in the ministry, the more important I believe seminary (or Bible college) education truly is. Just this past weekend, in my home church of all places, I heard a "guest" missionary make a major doctrinal error (if he meant what he said it was pure heresy). He has never been to seminary or Bible college and, in my experience, those type of preachers (etc) are more likely to make serious theological mistakes. Seminary trained pastors are not immune from error or heresy but they are less likely to stumble into it (they are more likely to walk into it).

    ==That is a really, really unfair statement.

    First most pastors in seminary do not earn a PhD, usually it is a MDiv and a DMin.

    Second most of them do not make large amounts of money and most, even with DMins or PhDs do not end up in mega churches.

    Third most of them are going to school to learn (a) how to preach/teach better, (b) more about the Bible/Church History, etc, (b) to improve their personal education.

    As for financial hardship, that is true of many pastors who are not currently in seminary. Besides distance learning has cut down on the costs.

    There is nothing wrong with delaying marriage/family in order to get your degrees. In fact I believe that makes sense. If you can get your education behind you before you get married then you should. That way there is less financial hardship on the family, and less stress with one parent in school and trying to work at the same time.



    ==Some churches are guilty of that, many are not.

    Can I ask you a question?

    It has been my experience that many who are opposed to seminary training are those who wanted to attend seminary at one point but could not (for various reasons). Now this is not always the case but I have found it to be true many, many times. Did you want to attend seminary and, for whatever reason, could not attend? A simple "yes" or "no" will do. I am not asking for an explanation or a defense.

    For the record, so you know where I am coming from, I have a MA in Religion and I am currently working on a MA in History. At some point I may enter a MDiv program (probably at Southern Evangelical) but first I want to enter George Mason University and earn a PhD in American History with a minor in Religion in America. Teaching is my goal...not pastor, etc.
     
  5. El_Guero

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    Are you in seminary? Or, do you just hang out with a lot of folks in seminary?

    Personally, I think that the MDiv should not allow anyone under 27 - 30 years of age in.

    I don't think the PhD should allow anyone under 40 in . . . even if they have a DMin.

    A DMin should be no younger than 35 or so with 3 years experience.





     
  6. gb93433

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    You cannot train another to do what you do not. The main job of a pastor is to train others to make disciples. Very few seminary professors know how or have ever made any disciples.

    It is not rocket science to train others how to make disciples. If churches would not interview any potential pastors who have not made disciples then the seminaries would wake up.

    You cannot measure church growth by nickels, noses, and baptisms but by the number of disciples being made.
     
    #6 gb93433, Sep 29, 2006
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  7. El_Guero

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    Ya' had to go and mention discipleship . . . next ya' will mention dietrich or someone like him . . .

    :thumbs:
     
  8. dan e.

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    I actually spent 5 years at the undergrad of Southern Seminary in Louisville, graduated this past June. I am not opposed to Seminary, nor do I desire to go to Seminary. I would agree that continuing education is important for preparing teachers. I have considered getting a Masters, but it would be in education, and would be for certification to teach. Something I've prayed about, but have not come to a conclusion if God wants me to invest in that as a vocation...still seeking God's will in that area. Teaching is definitely a passion of mine. Anyways, I definitely know some awesome students, both at the seminary and college, who have there focus where it should be. But in a culture like ours, and environment like that, I've known a lot of people who can read, comprehend theology books, study, write, etc. with the best of them, but couldn't relate to the average human being. I've met men "preparing" to become a pastor who studies on the weekends because they're not a "people person". I may be sounding harsher than I intend, but I have definitely come out of the "seminary" environment with these concerns. Its hard to attend and keep your focus right.
     
    #8 dan e., Sep 29, 2006
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  9. dan e.

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    There is nothing wrong with delaying marriage/family in order to get your degrees. In fact I believe that makes sense. If you can get your education behind you before you get married then you should. That way there is less financial hardship on the family, and less stress with one parent in school and trying to work at the same time.



    Whew...man, I just have a hard time with that statement. I think it is said a bit to quickly. The average age of marriage is rising, the average age of married parents are rising, the average amount of children are lowering...these are not necessarily neutral things. I think that there is something wrong with it. This is one area where I have really appreciated Dr. Mohler for his encouragement to younger people, especially at Boyce (I was at many speaches of his to Boyce where he would say this), to stop messing around with drama relationships and find your spouse. Now I know the reaction..."but what if you don't find your spouse until later"....I'm not really talking about that. I'm talking about the intentional choice to put off a marriage, and even worse....to put off having children.
     
  10. El_Guero

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    HOT POTATO!

    But, on this section of the Board it is usually a cooler response to that subject . . .

    :1_grouphug:

    But, some other areas of the board . . .

    :BangHead:
     
  11. Martin

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    ==Trying to work full-time, attend school, and have a family is a very difficult thing to do. Getting schooling done first is better than getting married, having children, and then trying to fit school in someplace. While distance learning has made this easier to do it has not done away with the problems. If a married person, with children, wanted to get a MDiv from Southern or Southeastern they would have to pack up their family, quit their job, take their children out of school, move, find a new home, new job, new school(s), and then start work at a new school. So it would certainly make more sense to get the schooling out of the way "first" and then get married and have children. However for those who are already married they can choose distance learning. Schools like Liberty Seminary, Southern Evangelical, and Luther Rice offer such programs. Southern Seminary and Southeastern are behind on this (which is a crying shame). I like what one person said about distance learning and schools that are slow to get on board...if they don't get on board they will be left behind. The face of education is changing and it is time for those schools to catch up with the rest.

    Btw, I have no idea what all of that has to do with your statement...

    ==In this area I disagree with Mohler. He is focusing on "social stats" and things like that. The Bible does not set an age for marriage. I also think, and this is not meant as an insult to Mohler, that he is the wrong person to be talking about this issue. How old was he when he got married? I noticed that he got his career started really early in life. In fact was he not the youngest president of a Southern Baptist seminary? I believe so. He is not aware of the problems that people face and how life does not always work out so wonderfully. So I don't put much stock into his views on this.

    It is better, in general, to get all the schooling out of the way before a person gets married. There is nothing immoral about that, there is nothing wrong with that. It is a choice that a person has to make.
     
  12. dan e.

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    I'm not saying I believe in this point so strongly to think that it is immoral. I would not have the nerve to say that. But, it just kind of rubs me wrong because I think it goes back to the original point...it is falling in line with a worldly way of thinking. It just seems to me that priorities aren't in line when someone intentionally puts off a possible marriage for school, and then putting off kids too. I should make a clarification...much of my opinions on this are a result of knowing and observing Southern Seminary for 5 years. Nothing wrong with school first, but my point goes back to intentionally putting off a family for the pursuit of a degree. I think that pursuit has been misguided, because I think it has become worldly in that degrees equal qualification. It is very HARD to argue against that. You'd like to not think it is that way until you sit under professors who explain the need to continue on after college and pursue further degrees for better preparation. It happens. There are many profs who would be appalled at this idea...but I don't think the seminaries have intentionally become this way. It's a matter of a worldly mindset slipping in.
     
  13. dan e.

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    Thats interesting that you say the Bible does not set an age for marriage...it also does not set a standard for the amount of education you need for a minister. People's time with God, their heart and passion for Jesus and fulfilling the Great Commandment is a pretty good qualification for the ministry. I love it when I meet someone who would be considered "not theologically educated", but they interact with more lost people, and do more for the Kingdom than sitting in a library for years while the debt piles up so they can become Pastors. Seminary is helpful, and can be a great time...but we need to keep it in its place. Knowing Jesus through His word, prayer, listening to God, fellowship...etc. is what educates people on theology, not studying for exams to pass a test so you can be prepared to win the next debate. In my mind, I've won plenty of discussions on creation/evolution, the Divinity of Jesus, etc, but it is pouring your life into people that introduces the gospel.
     
  14. gb93433

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    Compared to the family my grandparents came from he would not have enough children and lives too extravagantly.

    The financial pressures are rising while at the same time the divorce rate is increasing. Sales tax is higher. Tuition and books are higher. Gas is higher. Insurance is higher. Utilities are higher. Wages have not kept up with the cost of living over the past 30 years. The average life span is increasing and Mohler advocates getting married younger? It wasn’t too long ago that the average life span was 40 years. Now it is about 75. That is 35 years difference. Personally I am glad that I was older than my parents when I got married. I was more mature, financially more responsible, and had already started a business. It affords me more time at home with my family than my parents and grandparents had. If Mohler would give away his check and try to make a living for just one year on what his married students do, he would not be so quick to make such statements as he does. If anyone has listened to Dr. Laura she would totally disagree with Mohler. The practice among the Jews would disagree with Mohler. The Jews did much as the Amish do today. The couple gets a home ready before they get married. They are prepared to get married by being responsible in their preparation for marriage. Why drag a wife and children through tough times that should never happen because of poor preparation? Most people spend more time studying to get a driver’s license than they do preparing for marriage.

    Mohler is living in a dream world. He needs to touch down to reality. How many callouses are on his hands. Quite a number of men some years ago worked more than one job while their wives stayed home with their children. Some of those men did not see their kids very much. For years and years one of my grandfathers worked nights at a steel mill. The other one worked days picking vegetables and then worked at home trying to clear some land he bought. My grandmother worked at a restaurant during the day. They did not have much education. Has Mohler ever done manual labor and worked more than one job trying to make ends meet? I grew up on a dairy farm and we got up at 3:30 AM and finished the day at about 8:00 PM. I had homework just like every other college prep student did. Within a short time after I started college I became a Christian and within a short time I worked 30 hours each week, led three Bible studies on campus and was a full time student. Imagine the amount of time I would have had if I were married at that time.

    It was not too many years ago that a person did not have an education past about the eighth grade. Now it is about six years more than that on the average.

    If the SBC made their schools free it might help them to realize what Mohler advocates. When I first went to college, tuition was $186/year and the minimum wage was 1.65/hr. Now the tuition is about $4000/ year and the minimum wage is $5.15/hr.

    A lot of students are taking about one year longer to get through college due to finances. Almost every senior I teach works during the day. Several years ago I considered teaching at a junior college that was 8,000 by day and 12,000 by night.

    Where Mohler lives is one of the cheapest areas of the US to live. He has given a lot of lip service to things he advocates but some are from Missouri--the show me state. So it would be nice if he could commit it to paper with a pencil. I would like to see his plan.

    Young people do not need lip service but practical help and encouragement.
     
  15. El_Guero

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    Then they should get married if they are not called to remain single and eunuchs . . .

    :saint:
     
  16. El_Guero

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    It is always better to be right with God . . . and I have yet to meet very many men or women that are intended to be single.

    But, I meet many men and women that are miserable . . . single and yes even many married.

    We need to get right with God.

    We need revival.
     
  17. Martin

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    ==Neither am I. But keep in mind that the disciples spent three years with Jesus. Paul himself was a well educated man and had recieved a personal education from Jesus. A person does not have to get a Masters degree to be a pastor. There are good Bible Colleges and Bible Institutes out there, both on campus and distance, that a person can attend.

    ==Ok, what about soild doctrine and truth? Heart, Passion, and Evangelism are great things and I would not want a minister without them. However there must be sound doctrine. Those who have not had some form of education, seminary (etc), are more likely to accidently fall into massive doctrinal errors. Those who have spent time studying doctrine, in detail, and have been exposed to the truth and the error, and have had the history and all the reasons explained to them and explored by them, are less likely to slip into doctrinal error. They may walk into it but they usually don't slip.

    ==I don't understand why some evangelicals think ignorance is a good thing. Why is ignorance of Biblical truth a good thing? Why is ignorance of Church History a good thing? Why is ignorance a good thing at all? It is not. Evangelism is something all believers are to be doing and that alone does not qualify a person to enter the ministry. I would never support someone going into the ministry who believed that they did not need to be "theologically educated". I don't believe God calls people to ignorance.

    ==I hope you are not just studying to pass an exam. Studying should be done whether there is an exam or not, it is called learning. O, and btw, studying can take its place among prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, and listening to God. In fact, for the minister and seminary student, it should.


    ==Pouring your life into people is a good thing. However if a person does not have any theological training and then gets confronted with a complicated question about the history (or lack there of) behind the Da Vinci Code are they going to have solid answers? If they have not studied Church History, New Testament backgrounds, Systematic Theology, they probably will not. They will be forced to repeat what someone else says and when that does not satisfy the questioner...what next? Ignorance is not bliss when we are dealing with eternal matters. Apologetics, and all that goes with it, is very important.

    You have some level of theological training. Therefore you have the ability to deal with issues such as the Divinity of Jesus in a knowledgable way. Those who have not had some level of theological training are not ready to deal with the many issues that they will face in the ministry today. :jesus:
     
  18. Martin

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    ==I don't agree. I think it is being responsible. There is nothing worldly about making sure you (general use; not talking to "you" personally) are ready to get married before you get married. If you still have two degrees ahead of you, and that equals several years of schooling and maybe even moving to different locations to attend the school(s), then are you ready to get married? You can't attend seminary fulltime, have a fulltime job, be a good husband, a good father, and keep it all together. There are only so many hours in the day and such overload is physically, relationally, and spiritually dangerous. Why not get the schooling out of the way before marriage? Nothing worldly about that question.

    ==Seminary, Bible College, University, or Graduate School, school is about your life. It is about your career. It is about how you are going to support your family. This is why I think Mohler's teachings here are dangerous. Let's look at a young man, maybe he is 22 years old, he is just out of college, and he wants to get a masters degree (field open). Yet he also wants to get married (assuming he has a girl-friend). So he delays school, gets a job he does not like/want, gets married, has a child within one year, and three years later he wants to return to school. By this point he has two children, his wife stays home with them, and he works a full-time job. To attend graduate school he would have to do one of several things...

    1. Quit his job (loss of income) and maybe get a part-time job.
    2. Probably move to a different town (children/wife removed from their social world...other family, school, church, etc).
    3. Sacrifice time with his wife and children to do school work.

    Get the picture? It is not healthy. It is also possible that if he does not return to school he could, at some point, start to blame his wife and children for his failure to attend graduate school.

    Now let's turn the picture around. Instead of getting married out of college he goes directly into graduate school. Two years later he graduates, gets a job, gets married, and within two years they have their first child. He can focus on his family and his career, he makes a better living to support his family with, he can spend all his free-time with his family, etc, etc.

    Which is better? I would say that the latter example is better.

    Now if a person is called into the ministry they should not delay that call for anything. What did Jesus Himself say?

    "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daugther more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it" -Matt 10:37-39

    A person's relationship with Christ, and a person's obediance to His call should have the first place in the life of a believer. If a person knows God is calling them to ministry, and to attend a seminary, there is nothing worldly or wrong with them doing that before they get married. In fact, as the example above shows, that would "probably" be the best route. I say "probably" because God may want them to wait and get married first (etc). A person should follow God's call. If that means seminary then there is nothing "wrong" with putting marriage off a few years.

    Mohler never had to deal with those type issues. His life has been good. My word he was a seminary president before he was in his mid-forties. He was married very young. He has had it easy. In my opinion he is not in a position where he should be talking about this issue in the way he does. For one most of what he is saying (about this) goes beyond what Scripture commands, number two he has no personal experience with this.



    ==It is not just "the pursuit of a degree" it is preparation for the life and ministry God has called a person to. It is being prepared for life, family, and career, before you step into those things.

    ==Degrees represent a certain level of study. That is not worldly. It is a paper that tells your employeer (church, school, business, etc) that you have completed the studies needed to make you ready for your career. In ministry a Bible College or Seminary degree tells the church you pastor that you have studied Theology, Church History, Greek, Hebrew, etc and that you are knowledgeable of those areas. It says that you have worked hard to prepare yourself to minister to them. That includes spiritual work (prayer, Bible reading, etc) but also academic work (study).



    ==Buddy I have a AAS degree, a BA degree, a MA degree, and I am working on my second MA degree. I know the drill. A person should not follow their professor, or Dr Mohler, they should follow Jesus Christ.
     
  19. NateT

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    And yet, a thousand or more students at SBTS (I'm guessing 50% of students are maried, when really it's probably more like 60-75%) are moving their families and finding new jobs (Louisville, Ft. Worth, Wake Forest etc do have economies.) And that's just at SBTS, I'm sure SWBTS, MBTS, and any other TS has similar results. They're not finding it THAT difficult.

    Sure, it would have been a lot easier for me to get all my education before getting married and having kids. But I cannot tell you how much more I've learned at seminary by having kids. Things that minister to my soul because of my family situation. Illustrations of how I have utterly failed as a husband and father and yet am still redeemed. I would not have experienced that grace if I were single.
     
  20. El_Guero

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    I think it might be better to say: they are finding it extremely difficult, and they are doing it anyway.
     

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