Too Much Control?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    I have noticed some seminaries that control their students. What do I mean by control?

    First let me say what I do not mean by control. When I use the word "control", in this context, I do not mean holding to Biblical standards of morality, church attendance, dress styles, etc. Those things should be required of seminary students. When I use the word "control", in this context, I am refering to policies that seem to be directed towards children and not at adults (who actually attend seminary). Some examples are "what" church to attend, how many church services per week the adult student "must" attend, how "many" people the student witnesses to in a week, where the adult student lives, the kind of music the student listens to, etc, etc. Each of these are examples I have seen at various, usually smaller, theological seminaries. While I respect each seminaries right to have the policies it wishes I must wonder if some of this control is too much. After all we are dealing with adults who are current, or future, pastors, missionaries, seminary professors, and community leaders. Do they really "need" to be herded around like a pack of cows? Lovely analogy don't you think :laugh: .

    So, what do you say?

    Too much, too little, or just right?

    Would you attend a seminary that required all unmarried (adult) students to live in a dorm, eat in a lunchroom, attend a "certain" church, and that in general treated adult students as elementary children?
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    Any seminary that attempts to direct the details of the lives of its students is not the place for me.

    When we are children and babes we need help and direction in the things of lives. As adults we don't need this. Likewise at a seminary we are dealing with spiritual mature people, hopefully, who can reason and think for themselves. Such direction is not needed with these people and should not be tolerated.

    Our mutual alma mater once tried to do this with its students. It was more interested in producing an army of like minded, uniform adherents than vibrant, independent thinking Kingdom agents. (imho) thankfully they've changed their ways :)
     
  3. Rhetorician

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    Martin Response!

    Martin,

    This is quite a unique thread indeed! It sounds a bit like it might be a backlash from a former IBF hand who went "off the farm" so to speak. I have no idea as to what motivated you my dear brother but I do find it very interesting!

    You confused me when you mixed your metaphor referring to a group of cattle as a "pack." But nonetheless I will speak from what little I have experienced.

    One of the most academic seminaries that maintains a level of Independent Baptist flavor is Mid America in Memphis. It has all SBC people teaching there and pushes the SBC program of missions and evangelism nearly to a fault. The academic standards are impeccable. The program(s) is rigorous.

    "But, I have somewhat against thee (MABTS)...!" You must witness to at least one person per week by the Mid America standard, report it on a report form weekly at the "Practical Missions Chapel" every Tuesday. If you do not then you will not get academic credit for the courses taken. There must be one witness per week of the term or credit is withheld. By-the-by, they are SACS accredited if anyone wants to know.

    There is no one allowed in who is divorced or married to a divorced person, even though the spouse may be the "innocent party" in the divorce.

    There is no chapel attendance requirement. However, the administration lets it be known that they would be hard put to recommend someone to a church position who did not attend chapel regularly.

    There is no dress code, at least none that is written down. But, there is (was when I was there) a certain level of peer and professorial pressure to wear coat and tie or shirt and tie minimum.

    I will not argue strongly either pro or con. But, I do know that it was just what I needed early in my ministry. It helped focus me on what "the main thing was!" It gave me a really needed discipline at the time. I will say that is is not for everyone. And it may have b/c a bit more lax since the early 80s, but I cannot imagine that it has.

    Hit me with questions and I will be glad to "fill in the blanks" concerning MABTS for any who want to know.

    sdg!:wavey:

    rd
     
  4. RandR

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    I remember when students at Martin and preachin's alma mater weren't allowed to attend movies except for the edited ones on campus. (That rule mysteriously vanished when "junior" developed Candler's Station and its multiplex!)

    For many years, no men were allowed to have any facial hair at all. Around 84, mustaches mysteriously became biblically acceptable, but beards were still quite taboo.

    I also remember when students were not allowed to wear shorts on campus except INSIDE the gym or ON the tennis courts, etc. A friend got "reps" for running out to her car in shorts to get a tape. It was a "secular" tape...so she got "reps" for that too.

    Right after "David's Place" opened, the movie on campus was "Return of the Jedi." The guy running the projector put his hand over the lens while the alien was during her sexy dance in front of Jabba. He did it again whenever they showed Leia in her brown and brass little outfit. It was a hoot.

    My all time favorite was when Stryper came to the E.C. Glass auditorium for a concert early in their career. Students were "banned" from attending and threatened with punishment if they did. But when the singer asked how many students were in the house, the majority of the audience began chanting "L" "U" "L" "U". The couple of guys from dean's office who showed up to look for students that broke the rule just gave up at that point.

    I realize the OP was about seminary and not undregrads, but thanks for the stroll down memory legalism lane anyway.
     
    #4 RandR, Aug 7, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2006
  5. Martin

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    ==Not far off my friend. I am more like a Pentecostal Holiness who went "off the farm". I grew up going to both the United Methodist Church and the Pentecostal Holiness Church. Since my mother did not attend church much most of my childhood experience with church was in the Pentecostal Holiness Church. While many of the people in that church were wonderful, Godly people, they were as legalistic as the day is long. I just knew, at around 12 years old, that I was doomed to hell no matter what. So you know what I did? I accepted that error and went out and lived like it. It was not until I ran into Charles Stanley, and my grandmother, that I found out Scripture did not agree with the legalism of that Pentecostal Holiness Church. Ever since those days I have stayed clear of schools or churches that try to have too much control. So I guess, in some ways, my views on these type schools is a backlash.

    MABTS's policy has caught my attention and I don't agree with it. While I agree that all seminary students, indeed all Christians, should be witnessing (etc) I don't believe you can/should set a number. Setting a number borders on legalism and it can cause a person to witness "in the flesh" (ie...doing it just to get the right number for credit).

    Graduate schools, mainly seminaries, should not try to tell their students "where" they must attend church, live, or anything like that. I don't, however, have a problem with a tight dress code. I am a strong believer in modest dress.
     
  6. rbell

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    Don't want a pastor with a M.Leg degree (Masters in Legalism)
     
  7. El_Guero

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    Sure, the professor should witness to four times as many people as his average student does.

    ;)

    That might handle the issue well enough.
     
  8. El_Guero

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    Altho' if they have a bunch like me, they may not have enough time to catch up.

    ;)
     
  9. StefanM

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    Come to think of it, as much as it is emphasized at Mid-America, I wouldn't be surprised if that actually happens.
     
  10. Convicted by the Spirit

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    So if the student becomes like the master then what happens when a MABTS student becomes pastor of a church. He steps up to the pulpit and says something like ... "if you don't witness to one person a week then you will not be tolerated in this church." how does that sound coming from a seminary or any other institution? Mid America was one of my top schools until I found this out. I don't want to be a part of any seminary or church that has this mind set ... you must "witness to 1.5 people per week." Along with this comes ... "you will have to right on the chalk board in entire text of john 3:16 50 times if you don't comply."

    What about this ... if you listen to music with a beat or does not exault the Lord in every sentance then you will not be allowed in our fellowship. Yes this sounds a lot like something that Jesus would say.
     
  11. SBCPreacher

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    I'm assuming that the last sentance was written in sarcasm, but unfortunatley, this does sound like many of the judgmental churches today.
     
  12. Jack Matthews

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    My experience with Mid-America grads would lead me to evaluate it somewhere in the middle of the pack of seminaries I am familiar with, regard to its academics. After serving on a search committee, and encountering several Mid America grads as candidates for a pastor, I would say their academic skills were somewhat lacking, compared to what I saw in other candidates from other schools. They were also just a bit too "steeped" in what I would call "Baptist Culture", as opposed to being Baptist in the true sense of the word, with an emphasis on priesthood of the believer and independent, autonomous congregations.

    I didn't detect any "legalism" in their responses, though a couple of them did directly ask whether our church endorsed the BFM2000, and if memory serves, one of the Mid-America candidates declined to be interviewed further when we informed him that we did not.

    I think the nature of our church, being a new congregation, made up of a lot of people from non-Baptist backgrounds, and being progressive in ministry approach and contemporary in worship probably kept a lot of the "legalists" from submitting their resume.
     
  13. Plain Old Bill

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    If those candidates endorsed the BF 2000 message and your church does not it would have been dishonest to continue.
     
  14. Jack Matthews

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    Of course. And I appreciated the honesty. But there are some things in that particular document that I think represent Baptist "culture" rather than Baptist "values" and use that as an example of what I would consider to be too much control by a seminary over its students.

    I probably should have explained that in my post.
     
  15. El_Guero

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    Mid America is sounding better all the time!

     
  16. Brice

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    Hey you brought me down memory lane as well. I got there when you could live off campus and did so after two semesters on. After my final semester the dress code was loosened. I’m still upset I missed being able to wear jeans to class, those khakis got uncomfortable during the Lynchburg heat.

    As far as the OP, I guess it depends on how far it’s taken. I was uncomfortable at times with the rules at LU (Slacks, no shorts in areas, etc.) and still wouldn’t like them, but I did learn to accept them. Some rules seem to be an effort to gain control and some seem to be to keep order. Keeping order to an extent is good, but control seems to go against the very essence of academia.
     
  17. Martin

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    ==I have no problem with a tight dress code. Several reasons. First young people, and adults, need to learn to dress in a professional manner, because when they get a job in an office they are going to be forced to dress in a professional manner. Second young people, male and female, often wear outfits that should not be worn in public (mainly by Christians at a Christian school). Or they wear sloppy clothes that need ironing (etc). So I have no problem with tight dress codes.

    Dress codes are different from what I was talking about. I was talking about schools that try to control the lives of adult (graduate) students (what church, how many times, where they live, if/how much they can work, etc). Dress codes have to do with the on campus environment.
     
    #17 Martin, Aug 9, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2006
  18. Brice

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    I would venture to say that dress codes deal with life just as much as environment. Not to offend, but your statements seem to contradict themselves in a way. I could just as easily say I have no problem with mandatory church so and so times a week because it fosters growth, fellowship, etc. I would say many of these issues are intertwined. Since your topic does not pertain to dress codes I will try to answer your topic more clearly.

    I have no problem with certain things being mandatory in order to adhere to biblical standards. A Christian institution has a certain amount of responsibility in regards to its student’s lives. That being said it’s an institution of higher learning thus there should be a certain amount of academic and personal liberty. I truthfully do not have the answer in regards to how far reaching the rules should go, but its food for thought. God bless.
     
  19. Dave G.

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    I have to agree with Martin r.e. the dress code. I don't think it's good to do as some schools and tie a dress code to a standard of sanctification, i.e. "good Christians wear xyz clothes". Yet if I were dean of students at a private college, secular or Christian, I would seek to institute a moderate dress code for the following reasons:

    1. Going to a movie affects no-one else. Flaunting immodesty really does.

    2. It promotes professional and respectful behavior. Having been staff at a law enforcement academy, I can attest that even the change from summer (open neck short sleeve shirt) to winter uniform (long sleeve shirt with tie) causes a behavior change in the group. This also happened in an office environment when dress codes were enforced or not by different supervisors.

    Best wishes to all on both sides of the issue,

    DG
     
    #19 Dave G., Aug 15, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2006
  20. Paul33

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    You favor a "tight" dress code.

    Hmmmm. Do you really want to say it that way?

    I'm conjuring up all kinds of images of what a "tight" dress code would look like.
     

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