Why go to seminary these days?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by evangelist6589, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. evangelist6589

    evangelist6589
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    Since most Christians have little interest in theology and it seems all one has to do to be an expert and leader these days is to know how to create a good blog and YouTube channel, it seems as if seminary is not necessary. Believe me I know PLENTY of people whom lack even a undergraduate bible degree but have done a fine job at creating a attractive blog and YouTube channels, and they are considered experts and leaders among many. I have tested these type and they usually go dumb when it comes to deep theology questions that I learned in a academic school or via reading good books.
     
  2. TC

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    So, we should just lower our expectations to the lowest common denominator? That doesn't seem very wise to me.
     
  3. Michael Wrenn

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    I can't imagine why any Christian should not want to know as much as possible about his/her faith. I think, though, there is much shallowness in the Christianity of today.

    I always wanted to go to seminary but was never able to, for several reasons. But that didn't stop me from eagerly reading all the church history and theology I could get my hands on since the mid-70's. I used to go to every college and university library, as well as public libraries, within an hour's drive. Now the internet is my library. And who knows, since the availability of online programs, I might just get to do some formal study yet. :)
     
  4. evangelist6589

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    I am not arguing not to go to seminary, I am simply stating how people operate these days. I argue that the Internet is no replacement for good theology books. There are PLENTY of academic books that are not available in Kindle or electronic format. Kindle seems to cater to POPULAR books and I notice that most of my academic books are not available.
     
  5. Oldtimer

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    You summed it up nicely. I've been in both camps, so I can speak from experience. Yesterday, (years I was away from the church) instead of shallowness, in my case "lukewarm" is a better choice of words. Today, Proverbs 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; is a much closer fit.

    After being in both camps, that makes it easier to discern the difference in others. One place is in Sunday morning Bible study. It doesn't take long to figure out who has and hasn't opened the quarterly since last Sunday morning. Usually, it's the same ones every Sunday.

    In this respect, we are much alike. You just have a big head start on me. I don't especially want to go to seminary, since I haven't been called to shepherd a flock. I suspect there are many required courses, that wouldn't be applicable wherever God is leading me. However, as a layman, I'm hungry (for lack of a better word) for wisdom and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6) Add to that 2 Tim 2:15 (KJB).

    To that end, I'm slowly acquiring a small library of books that will tend to become worn with use over my remaining years. Most of them are used, as I look for older titles for several reasons. For books that would be a one-time read, I look towards the Internet. (Most libraries that would contain books of interest are 2-3+ hours round trip.) Also, some books found on-line are less expensive to print out, myself, than buying hardcopy and paying for shipping. Plus, putting those in a recycled 3-ring binder, automatically becomes a filing system, as related commentary, notes, articles, can be put in the same binder.

    When used wisely, the Internet is a blessing. Usually, with a few specific keywords, information needed on just about any related subject can be found and verified. For some subjects this can be done much more quickly that I could drive to a library. Much less expense either in burning fuel or buying hardcopy. And, especially, in the latter when both sides of an issue are needed to form a reasonably sound opinion. That is instead of buying two books -- one pro abc and the other con abc --

    Additionally, the convenience of on-line look up of scripture passages, and especially passage comparisons between versions can't be overstated, IMO. Access to multiple dictionaries falls into the same category. Add to those, sermons from those long gone from this earth are readily available to be read and/or heard. The list can go on.............

    However, there's one more to mention. :flower: If it wasn't for the Internet, I wouldn't be hanging out with the crowd around here. Whether in agreement or disagreement, with folks sitting at this virtual kitchen table, it provides an opportunity to learn from all.
     
    #5 Oldtimer, Oct 20, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2012
  6. Mexdeaf

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    "Virtual kitchen table" - I like that!

    I have learned much from the BB. I especially appreciate posters such as Dr. Bob, who challenged me and sharpened me regarding my views of soteriology.

    The biggest lesson so far has been the one named:

    "When to Keep Your Big Fat Mouth Shut"

    I'm not sure I will ever complete that lesson though - :laugh:
     
  7. exscentric

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    "There are PLENTY of academic books that are not available in Kindle or electronic format. Kindle seems to cater to POPULAR books and I notice that most of my academic books are not available."

    True but http://www.biblesupport.com has some of the best of the older stuff free for e-sword and mysword, pick and choose as there are all sorts of slants available but some of the old standard commentaries are there. E-sword offerings are improving greatly though no copyrighted stuff unless you want to pay a little for it.
     
  8. Dale-c

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    I agree with everything you say until you bring up the kindle. The kindle is not the problem. Sure, right now, you need to still read hard copy books, but in the future you will be able to do just fine with only electronic books as more and more are digitized.
     
  9. timf

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    If you are worried about the problem of blow-hards, there are enough in and out of seminary to keep everyone busy.
     
  10. Van

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    The future impact of the digital revolution is not well understood for we are not prophets. However, the lock on information contained in books has at least been broken to some degree. Rather than having someone, i.e. a professor who put hours and hours in reading various theological works, and so can point the student to this or that, now a student can google it.

    So now we see a pitched battle between those who acquired a "degree" seeking to disenfranchise those whose knowledge is based on computer assisted self study. But some with degrees simply parrot a theological view contrived 400 years ago, whereas those less indoctrinated students of today keep asking why it makes little sense.
     
  11. Dale-c

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    Google just does not compare to the in depth, dedicated study of a real book. I don't care of that book is on paper or on a reader screen. Using Google to gain tidbits of knowledge just does not compare, especially in for pastoral training.
    That said, computers are a great aid for the disciplined. I fear though that there are enough distraction with learning online that it can actually negate the benefits.
     
  12. Dale-c

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    Van, what is the doctrine you refer to from 400 years ago? There were wide variations in theology then too.

    One problem of self study alone is that you need to be challenged to defend your views.
     
  13. Van

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    Hi Dale-c, the doctrines of 400 years ago would be Calvinism and Armininism. Neither makes sense when compared to scripture.

    I have been asked to explain my views many times. I have no problem defending my views. They are based on the plain reading of scripture. So they represent the idea of scripture alone. How are we saved, by grace alone through faith alone.

    The problem defenders of various old doctrines have is they cannot adapt their views in light the scripture. So they must nullify scripture.

    For example 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says we are chosen through faith in the truth. That is a conditional election for salvation. So how is this view "challenged?" Why they say it does not mean what it says. Sorry but that will not play in Peoria.
     
  14. Dale-c

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    Except that is not what it says.

    "11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,
    12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
    13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
    14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

    Seems to to be quite consistent with Calvinism actually.
    To set yourself up as being wiser than centuries of Christians is dangerous as well as arrogant.
     
  15. timf

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    2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. - KJV

    2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought and are obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, because God chose you from the beginning as His firstfruits (first converts) for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth. [It was] to this end that He called you through our Gospel, so that you may obtain and share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). - Amplified

    2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But as for us, we have a sense of moral obligation to be giving thanks to God always concerning you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you out for salvation, this choice being within the sphere of the setting-apart work of the Spirit and a belief of the truth, into which also He summoned you through our good news, resulting in your acquisition of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    It is interesting that these verses illustrate both election and free will. It is also interesting that seminaries often leave little room for what is not known or what may not be known. The human desire to want complete answers often leads to denominational declarations that exceed what can be shown from the Bible or even what we are capable of understanding.

    The Bible says that knowledge "puffs up". I think this can frequently be seen in seminaries. Even the title of "theology" the study of God is rather presumptuous. There is an implication that this "subject" will be mastered. In a way the academic approach to God, by construction, looses reverence.

    The Pauline method of instruction (apprentice) would seem a better way to instruct than the Greek academy which has been passed down through the Catholic church and comes to us in the form of college classrooms, lectures, and desiccated data declared as truth in books.

    In the early church there was a lot of error. People who are often forced into defensive positions are often tempted to follow a path of the flesh. The various creeds were a well intentioned attempt to contend for the truth against error. However, when we leave the position of correcting error and take the position of preventing error, we exceed the Bible and enter into worlds of control and coercive force that contaminate everything we do with the flesh.

    This legacy of coming to sword points over doctrinal bullet points can be sharply contrasted with "Christ in you, the hope of glory".

    Much of the distance the average Christian feels in his daily life between the world and growing into the full image of Christ, has its roots in seminaries.
     
  16. Van

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    There you go again

    This says we are chosen conditionally, and you simply deny the very words of scripture.

    BTW, when you stand on the shoulders of giants, you can see farther than they did.
     
    #16 Van, Oct 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2012
  17. mont974x4

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    “I'd rather be able to pray than to be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.” ~ D.L. Moody


    I shared this elsewhere, but thought it fit well here too.
     
  18. Oldtimer

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    I respectfully disagree to some extent.

    First, I've been a collector of hardcopy books, since I was a teenager. Periodically I've had to purge books that were no longer of interest to make room for those of a new current interest, at the time. Over the years, I've had to fine-tune the selection of books that I buy for hands-on use. It's very rare, these days, to buy a book, that won't be used over and over again as a "reference manual" on a given subject.

    There is great pleasure in sitting down with a good book on a chosen subject. With a trusty yellow highligher or a pen in hand. To read, pause, reflect, underline -- to study. Whether it's in a chair in the den or under a tree in the backyard.

    That said.........

    There is enough distraction that finding a spot to simply study a good book is getting harder and harder to do. Distraction isn't limited to learning on line. With on-line learning, I can discipline myself to avoid on-line distractions. That isn't an issue, unless I make it one. Distractions come from the world around me, whether I'm on-line or reading a hardcopy book. Sometimes I long for a quiet spot deep in the woods for an afternoon with only a book or a laptop to keep me company.

    Now for search engines. I prefer Yahoo (but that's another story.) Effectively using a search engine can reveal far far more than any single book on any subject can do. (The Bible, itself, is excluded from this comment.) One example is that with an on-line book, often I can follow footnotes to the source document. Was that point taken out of context? That just can't be done with printed footnotes, unless the person has access to an excellent library that happens to have those source documents.

    A single hardcopy book, gives the author's opinion on a given subject. Doesn't matter if it's 50 pages or 500 pages. Unless in a well stocked library, it isn't likely, that a rebuttal to a point, is within arms reach for immediate analysis. When reading an on-line book (I'm talking about a computer and not a simple electronic reader), I can pause at any line or paragraph, and reach for another source that's only a few keystrokes away.

    Whether learning how to cut woodworking scarf joints or "pastorial training", it can make a difference in how much information is readily available for the student. IMO, it does make a difference. When I think back to my days in school, and the hours spent in libraries (highschool & college) would have been greatly enhanced if today's search engine capability had been available then. I was limited to only the hardcopy books that were on the library shelves.

    "That said, computers are a great aid for the disciplined."

    Isn't that what we should all strive to be, regardless of the learning medium?
     
  19. Van

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    Hi Timf, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 illustrates conditional election through faith in the truth. Thus the order is faith, then election through that faith. This is not puffed up knowledge based on the mystery of God's secret will, but rather the simple truth taught by God's very words.
     
  20. timf

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    2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. - KJV

    Van,

    I am not able to see a "conditional" element in election here. The phrase "from the beginning" establishes election as a first order element.

    The declaration of "through the Spirit" and "belief of the truth" (faith) may be a description of the mechanism. Conditionality might be introduced if one sees the choice to have faith or not as exclusively free will. However, I still do not see how viewing faith as a free will choice would make the previously declared election conditional.

    aihreomai - chosen

    Strong's - to take for oneself, that is, to prefer.
    Thayer's - to take for oneself, to prefer, choose.

    As I see it the point for the introduction of free will is faith. However, I do not need to see election made conditional. I am willing to consider that the mechanism of these (election and free will) may be such as to lay beyond my understanding.

    I see faith as referred to as something outside our will (Jesus the author and finisher of faith) as well as something for which we have responsibility (you of little faith). To my thinking this is the greater area of mystery than the conditionality of election.

    However, if there are verses that describe election as conditional, I would be interested to study them.
     

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