Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Prefer university education

I hope no one finds it weird that I would rather have a university education rather than a seminary one when it comes to doing ministry work.

If I were a young man going to ministry, I would rather go do some work on the original Biblical languages and hone in on those exegetical skills and then throw in some linguistics into the mix. In fact this is what I slightly did, I went for a so called Graduate Diploma in Religious Studies. The program is customized, so I elected to do Classic/Koine Greek and also Biblical Hebrew. Then I also threw in Early Judaistic studies into the mix. Here is one of the guys who taught me NT Greek. Then, I would recommend people to study the Scripture and the BoC a minimum of 2 years and then go for ordination.

Many folk in the faculty I belonged were liberals. I had a professor who was an expert in Aramaic and each time the OT mentioned what appeared to be a miracle, she turned around and gave a human explanation of it. This might be a cause of constipation[sic] for some but it challenged me to work on my research and scholarship methodology. They did respect you even though you wrote on your essays that their views were bunk and bull. That is the beauty of a university education, you are free to dump even your professor's opinions. You can tell them they are asses and it will be accepted so long as you have the arguments for it. Try doing that in seminary and you will be labelled "trouble maker" or "not very nice". What a university education gives is an even handed and balanced scholarship methodology that you will use for the rest of your life. It gives you a critical apparatus in your tool box.

This is why I like university education, because in the university you knew your "enemy"; in seminary education, you don't. University education does not tolerate in-breeding, but seminary education does. Also both university and seminary education are affected by some scholarly fad and some scholarly politics too. A university trained person will be aware of propaganda right away but this is hard to decipher in seminary. A university trained person will catch such anomalies not before long.

Let me be quick to say too that there are seasons I believe when seminaries turned up good men and faithful ministers, but it is a double edged sword. If the seminary professors are into some pre-occupation such as traditionalism, being enamoured with things Orthodox or Roman, into marketing etc. the result is devastating. In the university, the color of your professors are out in the open, in seminaries, their true colors are concealed.

What is more is that since seminary professors are isolated, by enlarge, they have no one to interact or challenge their views, they can go on with their self delusion without anyone checking them. Why? Because they are scholarly ghettos. This accidentally promotes in breeding, seminaries do not have an environment for new or challenging ideas, it is not nice to have them, so they are sometimes called 'sausage factories' (by some blogger).

I am not saying that seminary education is all bad, I am just saying there are some limitations and those who come out of them need to be aware of what they have received when they graduate.


steve martin said...

Good info. L.P.. Thanks!

Here in the States, however, I think the problem is much the same in our universities as it is in the seminaries of Australia.

Here we have a double whammy. They are all insular bastions of leftist thought and very little of the other is tolerated.

A truly sad state of affairs, it is.

L P Cruz said...

Steve M.

At least our young ones know their enemies when they enter university and can be prepared. Leftist folk no longer hide their libertarian bias, so we do not have to take them seriously.

However, it is hard to fight an enemy you can not see,


William Weedon said...

But, of course, traditionally we have both: to enter seminary usually requires at least the B.A. or B.S. obtained at either a university or college. In my case, I attended one of the Church's colleges before I headed to her seminary, but even there the secular battle was raging fully. At least for the LCMS, it's usually not a one or the other; pastors have both a liberal arts or science education, and a specific training in the Word of God at the seminary level.

Steve Newell said...

Even though I am not a pastor, I believe that it is good if a pastor had an education experience in a non-Church educational institution. I am a product of public schools, a state university for a B.S. and an MBA at a private university. Compare that to many pastors who never had experienced anything outside of their church run schools, colleges and seminaries.

L P Cruz said...

Steve N/Pr. Will,

What is helpful to would-be ministers is that they have been forged in the fires of theological challenges. A none Church education helps one's scholarship methods improve. Besides theological education is there not so much so you can correct others but so that you get to spot error in yourself.

Folk in the pew do not have the time to do the research themselves, the minister does great service if he does it for them.

When I read 'confessional' blogs on a topic I am familiar with like Calvinism, I come with a conclusion that they are parroting propaganda or myth they have heard from their seminary professors.

Seminaries have an obvious bias, there is no substitute for doing the research and the minister should to this himself.


Steve Newell said...


Do you ever sleep? It's the middle of the night. ;-)

L P Cruz said...

Thanks bro, been working on some family issues lately...I can use some prayers ;-)

never had experienced anything outside of their church run schools, colleges and seminaries

this is what I mean by theological ghettos. You hit that in the head. bro ;-)


Doorman-Priest said...

"I hope no one finds it weird that I would rather have a university education rather than a seminary one when it comes to doing ministry work."

Not in the slightest: a lot of seminarians I know are not properly equipped for the role at all.

L P Cruz said...


The lack of equipment is just that, they are not trained to be critical of their own position. This is because of the in-breeding of ideas.

I see most parroting their own teachers.

Even Jesus allowed Judas with his disciples for 3.5 years.


Steve Newell said...

St. Paul is a great example of the combination of a "university" and "seminary" education co-existing. There is no way he could have preached on Mars Hill without the classic Greek education.

I don't view these as mutually exclusive by complimentary.

L P Cruz said...

It can be quite useful combination and for some having graduated from a secular university then seminary can be give one a well rounded education.

I am quite a theoretician and my bias is showing that is why perhaps I will be comfortable with a secular degree in religion then doing my own studies after that.

Where I am coming from is the equipment for handling Biblical texts in the original and doing hermeneutics on other non-Biblical texts.