Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Seminary Education

So I was reading in the book of Acts today, and I came to this verses:

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." - Acts 4:13

Now this follows two important events. First, Peter had just healed a man who was lame from birth. (Acts 3:6) Second, Peter had just finished speaking about how this healing had been done in the name of Jesus Christ... and how His name is the only name under heaven whereby men must be saved. (Acts 4:8-12)

So the point of this post is to pose this question... how much does a seminary education detract from or add to a person's validity as a pastor, missionary, etc.?

Peter and John were known to be uneducated men. And because of there lack of formal education, the words they spoke were viewed as being a result of them "having been with Jesus". So at what point does a seminary graduate move from being a person who walks with Jesus to being a person who has been formally educated? I am not sure.

Quick note for those who may be reading this and do not know me... I am not advocating that seminary is useless. I am simply asking the question of how much does formal education veil the Spirit's work in the lives of His people who serve as pastors, missionaries, etc.?


Laurie said...

Hmmm, I have to ponder this one for a while. I can tell you that I was recently in a situation where someone mentioned his seminary training and in the course of the same conversation made a theologically false statement. A short time later he was asked two different scriptural questions, neither of which he could answer, nor did he seem willing to provide any assistance in finding the answers. So all that to say just because someone has been to seminary does not mean they are more knowledgeable or equipped or even have a closer walk with Christ.

Joel said...

Good points, Laurie.

I don't think a seminary education necessarily veils at all the Spirit's work in someone's life. Paul, for example, was extremely highly educated, and the Spirit's work was evident in his life -- because of the way he lived, not because of nor despite his knowledge. And I think that that's true for anyone who gets a seminary degree -- their walk is what shows off Christ in their lives.

And although Peter and John were uneducated in the Jews' eyes, they weren't uneducated on things of God. They obviously knew OT scripture, and their three year walk with Christ on earth gives them more than a seminary education.

Todd Richards said...

Joel... could that same knowlege be gained by simply studying the Word for one's self? I guess to answer my own question... yes, but it is a lot more effecient to do it in a seminary setting from men who have walked that road already.

Laurie, your point is excellent. I think too often a seminary graduate is given carte blanche by so many who listen to them that the Spirit is neglected in some capacity. We are all to be like the noble Bereans.

Joel said...

As for seminary graduates being given carte blanche, remember too that a lot of seminaries teach false doctrine...

riles said...

Interesting topic... I agree with you guys that formal education does not necessarily make a person equipped to share the gospel. The entire Jewish Septaginet (sp?) that condemned Christ was formally trained, yet they missed the boat entirely.

Yet I think just studying on your own will not get you as far as having someone guide you and others to go with you. Hence the reason Jesus called twelve. Real training is found in the conversion and subsequent sanctification process; through practicing what the Word says, not just knowing it.

If more people had to practice what they learned to pass seminary, it would probably take longer to get out, and fewer people would go. Not that seminary is bad, it would just change drastically. However, many do go and live out the life at the same time, though they aren't evaluated or graded on their lives. But their lives reflect the men and women you can trust versus the ones you can't.

gL said...

I think seminary is good because it is an environment that fosters seeking God and sharing what is found with others. I would be cautious though of cookie cutter students who take their professors opinions as gospel. I think it is important to remember that personal studies are also important. Sometimes the journey to that knowledge is the most important part. I also agree with Joel, for Jesus was a Rabbi and the disciples heard him preach often, so they probabally had a better grasp than anyone about what the Gospel was and how to share it.

Todd Richards said...

I guess it all comes down to the heart once again. A person can speak truth and be used of God without having gone to seminary (Matt Chandler used to be my favorite example of this until he started going to seminary). On the other side of the coin, a person can have a PhD. in Theology and still not be walking with Jesus. So my point is this... all the knowlege and education in the world cannot and will not take the place of a daily walk with the Lord Jesus. This is a "well sure" type of comment... but it sums it up nicely, don't you think?