Pastors Still Need Seminary Degrees

"Despite recent trends, formal theological training still plays an important role in the evangelical church." - CToday

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Ed Vasicek's picture

In my opinion, this article is a blend of good arguments with emotional ones.  The concept that education in preparation for ministry is a good, but the focus should be, IMO, that pastors know well the Scriptures (very well) and theology and the tools of their trade (preaching, counseling, leadership, planning, administration, etc.).  Pastors, IMO, should not be ONLY professionals, but they should be professionals, and unashamed of that.  In our day, if you are a good speaker, nothing much else seems to matter.  That is tragic.  Some aspects of being a professional include officiating a wedding with dignity, burying the dead with dignity, and competence in interpreting and presenting the Word of God.   Professional professors are the best instructors for professionals, and in-person education can do what online cannot always do.  But I wouldn't recommend Gordon-Conwell, personally.

"The Midrash Detective"

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I started to write a short post on the benefits of seminary to me personally. It quickly topped 500 words, so ... it should probably be an article/essay for the front page.

Though I'm not a pastor now, those years still benefit me every day--and they were priceless when I was shepherding for those 13 years or so.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

TylerR's picture

Editor

A different, polite take on this from a British evangelical. I think anyone can appreciate his article, even if one disagrees. He holds an academic MA in theology. Here's an excerpt:

When you are in ministry, you often get asked about your training. Formally, I have an MA in Theology. People frequently have a hard time accepting that it has been of very little value in my ministry. But the the reality is it hasn’t been.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

dlhanson's picture

Both of our sons have MDiv degrees along with undergrad and grad music degrees.  The older has a PhD in History and the younger will finish a DMin in 2023.  The younger is a pastor in New Jersey and the other is a professor at a college and seminary in Minnesota.  Both  appreciate and use all their degrees and find them useful in their work. 

JD Miller's picture

Education is very important, but there is more than one way to get an education.  I recently listened to a podcast that spoke of the importance of mentors to pastoral education.  In the past many churches had multiple retired pastors in them.  There are fewer retired pastors in churches today because there are fewer young pastors to take their place and many are remaining as pastors vs retired pastors.  The retired pastors that mentored me were priceless- that does not negate the importance of my formal education either.  

I guess where I am going is with the current pastor shortage we are facing, we need to start to think outside of the box about how to prepare future pastors.  Seminary is valuable, but there were no seminaries in the early years of Christianity (there was a lot of bad doctrine in those early years as well).  I don't have all the answers, but I am hesitant to say that seminary is the only way to address the problems the church will face in the years ahead.  I would also hope that no one thinks that seminary is not an important part in facing the challenges ahead.

T Howard's picture

The most helpful seminary classes for me were the Greek and Hebrew classes. Not only did I learn the languages, but I also learned how to use them properly in the pulpit.

I don't know where you would go for this training. Relying on Logos is not the answer. That said, Logos does offer Greek / Hebrew videos and textbooks so someone could learn the biblical languages if they wanted to.

If someone wants to be a pastor, he needs to learn the biblical languages well enough to be able to interact with exegetical commentaries and to understand the grammatical / syntactical options in the passages he preaches.

Does he need to be able to read and translate Koine Greek proficiently? It helps, but it's not necessary.

Larry's picture

Moderator

He holds an academic MA in theology.

Interesting take. The guy signed up for (and received) an academic degree admitting he didn't intend to be a pastor. He skipped the languages because they were too hard (he didn't have a ken for it, I think he said). And then he complains that a degree that wasn't for pastors didn't help him be a pastor and he took the shortcut anyway and didn't learn the things pastors need to learn.