Posts Tagged ‘training’

Theology Meets Life

November 28, 2008

Steven Marquardt, a “Timothy” and seminary student who just joined the “Timothy” blog roll, has started an excellent new blog that I urge you to read.  Theology Meets Life is the title of the new blog, and for any of you pursuing formal theological studies, I would go as far as saying, this first post is a must read. 

Steven includes a quote from Helmut Thielicke, who was a 20th century German theologian from the Neoorthodox tradition.  While Thielicke is a product of his theological tradition in many respects, Marquardt is not the only grounded evangelical who gives A Little Exercise for Young Theologians  (one of Thielicke’s over fifty books), a stellar review.  The Theilicke quote that Marquardt shares from this book is one that I wish I would have read daily as I first began to press deeper into theological studies.  However, I’m thankful to have it now, and I hope to bring you a full review of this little book after I finish reading it. 

The conclusion to Marquardt’s first post is:

when the truths we are learning about God and His word do not lead to an increased love for God and a greater desire to edify His people and reach the lost, we are running the risk of theological infatuation.

Lord, grant me true repentance for the times I have tried to use your Word for purposes other than you intend.  Forgive me for falling into theological infatuation which causes my learning to be motivated by something other than a genuine love for you.  Restore me to a place in which, every insight I have about you, brings me closer to you, grants me more faith and trust, and serves in being a conduit for sanctifying grace!

Is formal theological education good or bad? PART 2

November 18, 2008

I have always had difficulty when academic institutions acknowledge that they are not a local church (no church polity, no church discipline, etc. ) yet claim to be accomplishing a task that only the church is given the authority to do; namely, the work of preparing the saints for the work of the ministry. As I understand it, the Church is the only institution that is given the authority to prepare the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). However, it is difficult to undergo the necessary theological studies in a local church context. As a result of this, there have been some attempts to integrate rigorous theological study done at a seminary, with practical apprenticeship done at a local church. Almost all of these experiments fail to properly integrate the two. These programs often end up lacking a genuine apprenticeship or fail to offer a theological education that is academically rigorous.  However, there are a few churches/schools/apprenticeships that have made significant contributions to the reform of ministerial training.  Here are three: 

1.  Bethlehem Seminary (www.thebethleheminstitute.org) is currently the only Seminary of its kind because both the apprenticeship and the theological study are governed by a local church, in which they can be properly integrated.  The new M.Div. program is a 4 year commitment and involves rigorous theological studies, including extensive Greek and Hebrew studies.  Bethlehem Seminary will only accept 12-14 M.Div “apprentices” every year into their program.  Each of these students is mentored by a Pastor and progressively becomes more involved in ministry at the local Church level throughout the 4 years of the program. 

2.  Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College (www.sovereigngraceministries.org/PC/Overview.aspx) is a one year program, ranges from 15-25 students at a time, and is restricted to those who are commited to ministering within the Sovereign Grace network of churches.  It is only one year, and because of this, it is not academically as rigorous as a typical seminary.  It does include a limited amount of Greek study and there is a special focus on the spiritual life of the potential pastor.  The goal of this Pastor’s college is not only to impart a general theological framework and practical study skills, but to give opportunity for hands on ministry within a local church context and to promote growth in Christ like character.  This is a great opportunity for those who can fit into the ministry ethos of Sovereign Grace, and are in a season of life where a 3 or 4 year seminary commitment is not reasonable. 

3.  Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church has an internship (www.capitolhillbaptist.org/we-provide/internships/description/) is 5 months long, and is for those who sense a call to the pastorate.  It is not intended to be a seminary replacement, but rather to compliment a seminary education with an internship experience.  Throughout the program, an intern writes about 100 papers and reads over 5000 pages of text.  The 6 interns attend elders meetings, are involved in ministry at the local church, and spend weekly time with one of the elders at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.  If you are currently are planning to attend a run-of-the-mill seminary, or have already attended one, I would highly recommend taking a look into this program as a supplement to those studies.


This might be a good time to pitch an interactive web forum we attempted to launch some time ago, and are hoping to resurrect.  It is our desire that it would be an effective tool for those seeking to be trained for the ministry.  www.bibleschooldiscussion.com  Write anything you know about a school, post questions about a school you are considering, add a school to the discussion.  Our goal is that it would be a place where potential students can see what is available for those looking to train for the ministry, and can have an idea of what is really being taught at various institutions.

 


PART 1