Recently, I’ve been a bit unsettled over some observations. I’ve heard a few different stories, all revolving around seminary graduates. There were the stories of newly installed pastors, who after going through a rigorous “calling” process involving strenuous scrutiny, presented themselves and their beliefs as something different than in that process. Then there’s the pastor who proclaimed heresy in front of the congregation despite earning top grades in seminary on that same topic. And I see with an uncomfortable frequency, espousal of ideas that veer towards syncretism of Christianity and some contradictory worldview (like new age ideas) or endorsement of teachers who do the same.
But it also reminded me of some of my experiences during the six years I spent in a conservative evangelical seminary – conversations I overheard and took part in, observations of students, and even grads, endorsing teachers with questionable theology and in some cases, flat out false, other-gospeling teaching. I’ve also encountered inability to articulate core doctrine of the Christian faith or discern when something is just flat out wrong despite it’s attractive flavor. No, not everyone. Of course not. But enough to be concerned about the attention that was being given to how Christian belief is being articulated and lived.
Seminary is a tricky animal for it can create a false sense of accomplishment and arrival. While there are varying motivations and life experiences that lead people to seminary, at the core is to, in some capacity or the other, serve as a minister to the gospel. And seminary does provide very useful tools and education for serving in a ministerial capacity bolstered by wonderful, pastoral oriented professors and building strong relationships. So please don’t misread what I’m communicating or think I’m down on seminary. I am not and am grateful for my experience. Continue reading