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Friday, March 15, 2013

Seminary?

(I was just asked these questions by some local college student. He was surveying several ministers from very different denominations, and I just happened to get pegged. After sending him my answers, I realized that maybe some readers of this blog might benefit from my answers. His questions are in the bold print; my answers are below.)

1.) What are the benefits of someone who attends seminary, as opposed to someone who does not attend seminary, if they both want to be in full-time ministry? I can answer this from both sides. I used to be a Church of Christ minister, who had no seminary training, just some “preacher-training school” classes. Here, my Biblical knowledge was only surface, and guided by my own reason as I pieced things together. After I left the CoC and became Presbyterian, I started seminary (Reformed Theological Seminary-Jackson MS). My depth of Bible knowledge grew exponentially, as well as my ability to discern worldview trends in church and culture. Also, I gained deeply from the Theological education itself, coming to recognize and grasp Biblical dogmas with a richness that eluded me before my education.

2.) Does a Pastor who has a Seminary degree make more money in their lifetime, then someone who doesn't? Very likely; but not always the case.

3.) Does Seminary better equip you for full-time ministry? Most definitely. Not only did I learn the Biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew – and I still read them), but going through Systematic Theology classes helped me to comprehend better what was influencing my congregants. Also, working through the Biblical Studies classes helped shape my Bible reading, learning to read all of Scripture with Jesus as the center and goal. All of this (and more) helps me in my preaching, teaching, counseling, visiting people in the hospital or in hospice care, people going through catastrophes, etc.

4.) Why does someone who is called into full time ministry, need seminary, if they fully feel called into it by God? See number 1 & 3 above. Along with those two statements I would say (again, from personal experience) that a good, solid seminary will enrich a minister’s life, by enhancing their understanding of the Scriptures and Theology, and can deepen their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

5.) Why do schools offer seminary, if it's not always necessary or beneficial? Can’t answer this because I think seminary is essential.

6.) What are some classes that are offered at a public University that would help prepare me for full-time ministry? I’m not sure there are too many, if any; especially if by public University you mean a secular school. If they offer Biblical or classic Greek (and Hebrew) that would be a great set of classes. Most of the Survey-of-the-Bible classes are marginal at the least and harmful at the worst… but that depends on who is teaching them. If a Survey-of-the-Bible class is being taught by someone who holds to the Scripture as God’s Word, and as the final rule of faith and life, then it might be a super class. I would say you’d be really helped and given very valuable tools for ministry if you went to a godly, wholesome seminary.

Rev. Dr. Michael Philliber
Heritage Presbyterian Church (PCA), Edmond OK

1 comment:

Beth Myers said...

Great answers! Here is my favorite article on the subject. I've found it helpful to share with young men considering the importance of a seminary education. http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/why-pastors-need-a-seminary-education

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