Saturday, March 08, 2014

Questions regarding ministry and education

[See also Pastors and Seminary Education].

Q: Is seminary necessary for those going into ministry?
A: A seminary education, or the equivalent, is necessary for going into ministry.

Q: Why is seminary education, or its equivalent, necessary?
A: Ministry deals with issues of spiritual life and death. Just like a doctor requires training in dealing with bodily ailments, so a minister requires training in dealing with spiritual ailments.

Q: Isn't a heart of caring for people and a life of piety towards God in prayer and reading His Word sufficient?
A: No. Just as a doctor who cares for people and who interacts with doctors still requires further education and on the job training, so likewise a person who cares for others and who is pious still requires seminary and other ministerial training.

Q: But weren't the apostles unschooled, and thus isn't a requirement of seminary education an addition to the Bible?
A: No. The apostles had personal "seminary" level training with Jesus for 3 intensive years, and even after that, their training was not complete until Pentecost. Paul too went into Arabia for 3 years after his conversion to re-study the Scriptures, and before that he had trained under Gamaliel.

Q: But God works even in the ministries of those who are unlearned.
A: God also used a donkey to rebuke Balaam, but we don't go around looking for talking donkeys. God used a big fish to discipline Jonah, but we don't look for big fishes to execute church discipline. Just because God uses something does not mean that we should be content and disregard the perceptive will of God.

Q: Does that mean that someone who is not seminary trained (or the equivalent) should not go into ministry?
A: Yes. Since ministry involves issues of spiritual life and death, it is better not to go into ministry untrained for the task. God can and does use our imperfect service, but we should not be pragmatists and should follow God's perceptive will instead of presuming upon Him.

Q: Does this imply that full knowledge is required for ministry?
A: No. All Christians, including ministers, are still learning. But it's a sin to willfully neglect what has been known, the traditions of the Church, and thus ignore the collective knowledge, wisdom and insights of the saints, and attempt to minister accordingly. Just like doctors do not have full knowledge and should be ever learning, so likewise ministers should be adequately trained, and yet still continue learning.

Q: What do we say then of a church without adequately trained ministers?
A: It is a church without adequately trained shepherds, who ought to get training if and as soon as possible so as to avoid potential cases of pastoral malpractice.

Q: Are there any problems with a loving pastor who is not adequately trained?
A: Yes. Precisely because he cares for the flock and presumably the flock loves him, he has great influence over the sheep. If he unknowingly promotes error, the flock will follow him too because they trust him. There is nothing more dangerous than love (and zeal) without knowledge.

19 comments:

scrapiron said...

Probably worked fine during the early days of Princeton and Yale, but nowdays, all the liberal garbage comes out of the seminarys. Not to mention that they come out of seminary looking for a "job" like any other college grad...hirelings.
It appears to me from scripture, that the minister must be mature in Christ. I don't believe you mature in Christ in four years of seminary.

Darrel said...

Does your seminary (or equivalent) teach you
1. how to walk with the Lord on a daily basis?
2. that humility before God (first) and men is a must?
3. that real knowledge begins with fear of the Lord?
4. that being respected, well liked, and sought out by your peers is not a successful "ministry?"
5. how to weep with those who weep, not just to "council" them through a problem?
6. that all Scripture is directly inspired by the Holy Spirit with the use thereof to be confined to what is described therein? (not allowing for the cherry-picking of proof texts to validate one's agenda)
7. that any "ministry" to be pursued MUST be accompanied by the corresponding gift as given by the Holy Spirit, otherwise it is illegitimate and will not be sanctioned by the Lord?
8. that all the book knowledge that is gained is useless to those who have never been redeemed?
9. that melding the world's philosophies with Christianity or "Christianizing" the world's ideas of right and wrong is expressly forbidden?
10. that their graduates will be judged by the King of kings with harsher judgment than those who are taught by them?

So how does your seminary stack up? The question and answer list posed here is mostly useless philosophical nonsense, with no basis found in the Word, only that of men seeking to lend credibility to their pursuits and actions. Seminaries and "Bible colleges" have churned out more false prophets on the world than I would care to imagine. EVERY seminary professor I have heard (in person), on line, book, or whatever has been a classic example of what knowledge, as generated in their respective schools, turns them into: puffed up know-it-alls. Can you really find two such teachers who agree on anything? Doubtful.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

1) That is not the job of a seminary
2) Neither is that the job of a seminary
3) Yes, but it is not the job of a seminary
4) Not their job
5) Not their job
6) Yes
7) That comes from a false assumption of how the Holy Spirit give gifts. You falsely assume that the Bible speak that those who have the gifts must minister, and those without don't. But the Scripture speak not about gifting as much as calling when it comes to ministry

8) Yes, but seminaries are not churches and do not judge the heart
9) You seem to assume that utilizing philosophy in any way is "melding the world's philosophy &c." Do you even acknowledge that everyone has a philosophy? I rather be knowledgeable about my own philosophical presuppositions, rather than blindly think I have no philosophy and then read that into Scripture.

10) Yes

That you think the Q&A here is "useless philosophical nonsense" just shows you know nothing about Scripture. That you claim that seminary professors are puffed up with knowledge shows either that you have only encountered professors with false theologies (of which they are many) in part or the whole, or that you have a false spirit-letter dualism which denigrates learning the Word of God in favor of being "Spirit-filled."

Either way, you prove that you have no idea what the Scripture teaches.

Darrel said...

If 1-5 are not "their job" just exactly what is it that is taught to prepare a man to be a good minister of Jesus Christ? Seems that it makes #9 all the more valid and the warning about getting puffed up should be underlined. Your terse and curt answers don't help, nor does it help to call me ignorant of Scripture or is it that I have struck a nerve? Since I am ignorant of Scripture please feel free to correct me, but #7 was referring to the gift of pastor/teacher or is that on your list of gifts that are no longer in operation? #8: so churches are to judge one's heart? Scripture, please. If you ever become a pastor I hope you will treat your people better than you have me, but it's not a complaint, I expected your response to be of the sort it was, somewhat Nicolaitan in flavor. There were a few more questions that could have added to the list, but what's the point, me being ignorant of Scripture, how dare me question a seminary student, much less a professor? Being ignorant, I'm not supposed to know this, but your assessment of me is based solely upon the defensive posture you take to those who dare question you, WOW! Here's hoping that you will examine yourself and see what is obvious: all your learning has done nothing for your love.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

do you actually think that a person ought to know what the Bible teaches before he becomes a pastor? Is knowledge important, or is it not?

On #9, you are proving my point. You assume that your understanding of Col. 2:8 is correct, all without actually engaging the text and what it is trying to teach. Instead, you see the word "philosophy" and think that by that you mean either the modern discipline of "philosophy," or learning in general.

As for being "terse and curt," I see that you are trying not to answer my question, by attacking me. The only thing "terse and curt" here are your non-responses to my questions. All the insinuations about my character are out, despite the fact that you haven't met me. It seems judging by ONE online interaction is ok for you, but it seems when I merely press for answers and state the facts, that is "being judgmental."

As for being "Nicolaitan," I see you have a very high and exalted view of yourself. Bible scholars wrestle and disagree over what the Nicolaitan error was, and I will confess I have no idea what it meant. Yet here you are being so sure of yourself and of your own private interpretation of what the "Nicolaitan" error was.

Seriously, for someone claiming to be so humble, your attitude here so far has been proud and arrogant.

PuritanReformed said...

#7: God speaks of women being gifted in prophecy in the NT, yet we know that women are not to prophesy or teach in the church service (1 Tim. 2:12). Similarly, women can be gifted to teach (Titus 2: 3-4) but they are not to exercise their teaching gifts except to other women.

Therefore, gifting and calling are not the same. God may give a person certain gifts, but not call the person to where the gift is normally practiced.

There is no gift of pastor/teacher. Eph. 4: 11 is God's gift of the office of pastor-teachers to the church, not gifts to individuals.

#8: The officers of the church ARE officers of the church. It is the church that recognized and ordained her officers. We see that in the appointing of elders by the Apostle Paul (Acts 14:23). Seminaries are NOT churches, so they can't ordain men to the ministry.

My assessment is initially of your position, not of you. It is rather you that are defensive. I don't know what your beef is, but it is obvious that you are bitter against the church, and proud and arrogant as to your own understanding of God's Word.

Darrel said...

"Terse and curt" because you dismissed #1-5 out of hand, without explanation. Which one of those do you deem unnecessary to a man of God and where exactly are they to be learned? Even if only the Biblical principle and relevant Scriptures are taught, that is preferred to "not their job".

Forgive me for not answering the one question posed in your initial response. Yes, everyone does have a philosophy, with most being self-oriented.

Your latest answer to #7 is nonresponsive in that I did not speak of women, but men, your effort here was to confuse, nor clarify. Further, if there is no gift for 'pastor/teacher' for men, how is it that women may have the gift of teaching and men are not allowed the gift (as you stated in your last response)?

To answer your questions: 1. absolutely! but seeing the fruit of seminaries in the pulpit and elsewhere, few are actually being taught the Word. 2. no question asked about #9, only a reminder of my ignorance. 3. 'terse and curt' answered above, I enjoy the "flopping like a fish out of water" that you do by trying to turn the tables on me and making me the bad guy, and this without having met me in person as you have resorted to saying. As far as 'one online encounter' check your own archives, been reading you for years with occasional posts in comment section, so, yes, Daniel, I know you better than you give me credit for (that's why your "responses" are not unexpected). 4. no question, just another rude comment. Bible "scholars" still debate Arminianism/Calvinism but there is a final resolution to those who know Scripture. Many debates rage on, but the Nicolaitan comment is based upon the commonly accepted view that it was the "clergy" of that day "lording it over" their subjects, ruling dictatorial style. If I were half as ignorant of Scripture as you have deemed me to be wouldn't a genuine teacher take the opportunity to TEACH rather than find fault with nearly every word? Put down your baseball bat, I'm not your enemy. 5. no question, but REALLY?

Darrel said...

To continue with your second response: 1. no question, answered in my last post. 2. So a man may be gifted to do a certain ministry, but never have the opportunity to use that gift to the edification of the church? You don't even attempt a proof text (because there is none) but expect me to just take your word for it? Reading Eph. 4: 10-16 we have no mention of your assertion, rather the opposite that gifts (of teaching, etc.) are for the edification of the body of Christ. Following your assertion to it's logical end we find that the Holy Spirit may give a man a gift which he would never use to edify the body (please show where that ever happened). 3. Really? I suppose "shepherd's heart" is out, too. Again, but women are afforded this gift, not men (according to your previous statement). 4. Your statement has little or nothing to do with #8. So I guess I should just learn to "deal with it" when seminaries churn out more false prophets than they do real ones? Sounds like tuition fees rule the day. And last of all (my favorite): "My assessment initially is of your position not of you" PRECEDED by "Either way you prove that you have no idea what Scripture teaches". Thanks, seminary student.

This whole exchange has been very beneficial for me, thank you. When you have no lucid or valued response to serious and legitimate concerns, you just blow it off ("not their job") and compound the error by some unfounded attack on the one doing the questioning. If this is the best you've got and were taught these things in your current school of choice then you've been ripped-off. I hope I'm wrong, I actually want to be wrong, because it would be a tremendous waste of a highly intelligent young man to arm him with a baseball bat instead of the Word of God administered by the Holy Spirit (which is what is on display here). One of the other questions I alluded to earlier would be "Do they teach you how to pray, and the utmost necessity of it?" I'm afraid I already have the answer, but they should. If the love for the Lord Jesus Christ does not rule the day and your dealings with other men, then why bother?

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

I did not dismiss questions 1 to 5. I gave an answer. It might not be what you expect, but it is an answer. The fact is nurturing the Christian life is the job of the church and not the seminary, which is for academic training.

There is no way for a lecture to teach Christian living. My seminary has Practical Theology courses, which for the most part don't work. You learn practice by doing, not through lectures.

On #7, I used the example of women because the principle is obvious there. For men, it can be easily inferred that anyone with a gifting but who fails in character cannot be in the ministry. Thus, the distinction between gifts and office still holds.

PuritanReformed said...

As for whether many seminaries are not teaching the Word, very likely. So? Just because food is abused in gluttony, does that mean that food is bad? The issue here is not whether there are bad seminaries, but whether seminary is essential.

As to whatever previous interactions, I do not keep track of those interactions. I'm sorry if you think that you are that important in my life, but the fact is you are not. I wouldn't recognize you if you come back one year later and comment. I hope you are not too traumatized to realize that you are not the center of my world.

And yes, you do not know me. Yet it is very evident that I want to speak about the issues, while you persistently bring me the person into it. I think that speaks a lot.

Bible scholars still debate Calvinism/Arminianism. Yes, so? Bible scholars still debate every single doctrine of the Bible, including whether Jesus actually existed as the Christ. There is no single teaching of the Bible that some "Bible scholar" with an actual PhD does not dispute. So pardon me if I'm not impressed with the fact that there are Bible scholars disagreeing over Calvinism/Arminianism.

PuritanReformed said...

In the meantime, notice that I call you ignorant BECAUSE you assert without proof that this Q&A is "mostly useless philosophical nonsense." I have yet to see any proof that they are "nonsense." So you can critique my list as "nonsense," but when I say that this shows your ignorance, oh no, I am the big bad "wolf."

Seriously, give me a break! You throw barbs, don't whine when I call you on the mat for your action.

PuritanReformed said...

>So a man may be gifted to do a certain ministry, but never have the opportunity to use that gift to the edification of the church?

OK, I ask a simple question: Should someone who is gifted for a certain ministry, yet is living in a homosexual relationship, have the "opportunity to use that gift to the edification of the church"?


>You don't even attempt a proof text (because there is none)

Do I have to spell out 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 for you, and then construct the syllogism to prove such an obvious point?


>Reading Eph. 4: 10-16 we have no mention of your assertion, rather the opposite that gifts (of teaching, etc.) are for the edification of the body of Christ.

Seriously? The verse says that it is given to the saints, the Body of Christ. The list given are that of officers in the church. An Apostle is an office. A prophet is an office. A shepherd or pastor is an office. All of these are office-bearers in the church. Compare this list with the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 12 for example, and it is obvious that they are not the same. 1 Cor. 12 refer to spiritual gifts for individual members.


>This whole exchange has been very beneficial for me, thank you.

It only proves that you are arrogant, proud and refuse to actually interact with the issues in humility. Nevermind that the positions I am advocating for is the traditional positions of the historic Christian church. No! You are the final arbiter of truth it seems. Does the fact that you are rejecting the overwhelming consensus of the Christian church even give you any pause, that maybe people that have gone before you actually knew more and better than you? I guess not!


>When you have no lucid or valued response to serious and legitimate concerns, you just blow it off ("not their job") and compound the error by some unfounded attack on the one doing the questioning.

Spoken by someone who starts off with guns blazing, and then play the victim card when I call you on the mat for it. You can claim the moral high ground all you want. Your low brow tactics are evident for everyone else to see.


>I alluded to earlier would be "Do they teach you how to pray, and the utmost necessity of it?" I'm afraid I already have the answer, but they should


The Lord taught us how to pray, and it is called the Lord's Prayer. We recite it in church every Lord's Day. I guess you don't do so.

Plus, looking at all the mumbo-jumbo coming out from many of your fellow pietists, I think I skip your sanctimonious advice.


>If the love for the Lord Jesus Christ does not rule the day and your dealings with other men, then why bother?


Yes, why bother? Your interactions here have been far from loving. Not only that, you have been arrogant, you play the victim card etc. So based upon your own standard, why should I even bother to listen to you, since evidently the love of Christ does not "rule your dealings with" me?

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel,

seriously, you need to start examining yourself. The blatant violation of Mt. 7:1 by you here, and sheer hypocrisy in your sanctimonious posturing, tells me all I need to know about you here.

Darrel said...

It is refreshing to see what lies in store for the church in the next few decades with such mental giants as yourself being churned out of the "seminary mill". If seminaries have been of the utmost necessity for the church then what did the poor struggling, ignorant folks do for nearly 1500 years before there was even one seminary? Please, pull another rabbit out of your hat and convince me that the seminary system has always been.

Back to your original post (skipping your diatribe of attacks) I find zero biblical support, much less a reference for your contention that seminaries are a must. You provide no explanation as to what "equivalent" may be. You have supplanted the Holy Spirit's ability, effectiveness, and right to teach and lead His chosen ministers as He pleases with that of a "seminary education" Now who is the arrogant one?

Back to your five part diatribe: parsing verbs, learning three or four foreign languages, and a smattering of (re-written?) church history is not the ultimate preparation for ministering the Gospel, but that is what you have learned at your seminary (I know there is more to it, but since I am ignorant bear with me). Actually, you did dismiss 1-5 with a short negative reply. Are you being educated to teach others the Gospel or not? If yes, then teach, even the ignorant like me; if no, why are you there? There is no value at all in "not their job". There a couple of things that I really love, when the question is too tough, or you have not been instructed by your seminary professors how to give a cogent answer on a unstudied subject you simply blow it off and attack the questioner. Did they really teach you that or did you come up with that one on your own? Next would be the one where seminaries are not responsible to teach 1-5, but that is to be learned at "church", right? This church would have to have a seminary trained "pastor" or he would not be a valid "pastor" in your view, further, this "pastor' would be expected to teach his church how to walk with the Lord on a daily basis when he was never taught this in his school, but left to his own devices to teach them. Seems like a vicious cycle. next would be the "gifted, practicing homosexual". Do you seriously think that way? Do you know how many Scriptures you have to violate in order for such a thing to be so? Of course you do, you are seminary educated. Yet you say that the Holy Spirit will gift a man and then never put him in a position to use that gift. Again, no Scripture reference just your thoughts. If Christian living can't be taught by seminary lecture, why do you push it off on the uneducated (in this matter) pastor to teach his church by a sermon? Lastly, I love your shepherd heart on display: paragraph 2 of your 2:15am post. Wow you really aren't Christian living in seminary. You speak of arrogance while the ENTIRE original post is over flowing with it as are your responses to me and ALL the others who post comments on your web site that disagree with your seminary educated positions. Who wants to listen to a "teacher" who can't teach without a baseball bat? Having read this blog for some time I have yet to find anything encouraging, or that exalts the Lord Jesus Chris and His work. Mostly, the posts seek to inflame with the corresponding baseball bat response from you, who wants to listen to that? Your assessment of me is meaningless, since you treat all who do not share your views with the same contempt, bordering on hate. My attempts to get you to think outside the heavenly walls of your seminary have seemingly failed, as you saw all that I have said as an attack. What you have displayed to me and all those who disagree with you is not brotherly, Christ-like love, but disdain, that any would oppose you.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

there were the equivalent of seminaries in the first 15000 years of the church. The monastaries in the medieval church function like seminaries. Before that, the church took on the mantle of the seminary herself.

You say you find "zero biblical support," yet you persist in REFUSING to actually interact with Scripture. Anytime I post Scripture and briefly exegete from it, you discount it WITHOUT actually interacting with the text. You are the one that is close-minded, proud and arrogant, yet continue to accuse me of being the same.

>assessment of me is meaningless, since you treat all who do not share your views with the same contempt, bordering on hate.


Yet you are the one who is treating me, and my position with "contempt and hate." I try to reach you, try to tell you to focus on the issues, YET you persist in your judgmental spirit and then accuse me of the same.


Let's put it this way. I am a member in a church and my pastor can discipline me if I err. Are you a member in an actual church that preaches the Gospel, and are you willing to submit to their leadership? I take my stand, and are accountable for what I write. Are you?

I could care less about your perception of what is "hate." If you want to sound like the Liberals, then continue on. You have no idea what you are talking about. That you continue to use the phrase "seminary student" as a slur shows your absolute contempt for the institutions serving the Church. I seriously wonder which church you are a member of, such that you are accountable to the Church for your actions and false accusations.

In the meantime, I think I have seen enough arrogance and refusal to actually interact with the teachings of Scripture. Look at the blog rules. They actually say that anyone who posts have to interact with the arguments laid out. Unless you start actually interacting with Scripture, not continue to make wild, baseless accusations, there is nothing to discuss.

I call on you to repent of your behavior here. Not that I think you would, seeing your self-righteous snobbery on this thread so far, but I exhort you to do so for your own spiritual health.

Swee Yeo said...

Hi Daniel Chew,

After having read Michael Horton, Wayne Grudem and Gregg R Allison, I read your blog with interest as I am trying to understand how a Calvinist thinks.

Question 1: If election is predestined at the beginning of time and not the works of men, how does the work of the pastor affect "life and death" of the elect? Surely irresistible grace will ensure that the elect gets salvation in the end.

Question 2: If there is preservation of the saints, how does the teaching of the pastor to the elect affect the "life and death" of the elect. Surely they will be preserved even if a misguided pastor taught the wrong doctrine.

I am interested in your thoughts.

Best Regards
Swee Yeo
Lay person.

PuritanReformed said...

@Swee Yeo,

Well, I don't know what you would term as "Calvinist." I speak here as someone under care in a Reformed Church, the Presbytery of Southern California of the OPC.

Q1. Yes, God will preserve His elect regardless of their situation. Yet, God uses means, and He often use Gospel ministers to bring in the elect, and use false ministers to bring in false believers. This side of eternity, we do not know who the elect are. The doctrine of election therefore functions as comfort for the individual believer, not for a manual on doing church.

Q2. It affects as to its visible spiritual health of the elect. It will not affect the "life and death" of the elect. However, because here on this side of eternity we do not know who the elect are, we see someone who profess Christ and seem very spiritual, but they might turn away from Christ when they encounter false teaching. So phenomenologically, we can say that false teachers lead believers away, even though we also know that the elect will never fall.

Swee Yeo said...

Hi Daniel,

You answered well. Those who are saved by grace through faith are followers of the Lord God, Jesus Christ and not followers of Jacobus Arminius or John Calvin who are sinners saved by grace. Their letters and writings are not included in the inerrant Holy Scriptures. Michael Horton in his book, “For Calvinism” said that John Calvin expressed disapproval when his Lutheran critics saddled Reformed evangelicals with the nickname, “Calvinists”.

There are 80+ year old men and women in Singapore who are illiterate or are barely able to read a page of the Bible and who are saved by the wonderful work of God. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is their teacher (John 14:26) and Jesus promised that they will have eternal life (John 6:38-40). They are carpenters, fishermen, tailors, taxi drivers and cleaners. They missed out on the opportunity to have an education because they were born in poorer countries. But they have not missed out on the opportunity to have eternal life. Isn’t that wonderful!

Those of us who have been blessed with an education, opportunities to attend universities and the luxury of reading theological books, have the responsibility to handle the gifts of God carefully. Those who are called by God to teach, bear great responsibility for they will be judge with greater strictness (James 3:1).

May God bless you and help you to use the gifts that you are given to bring glory to His Name.

Best Regards
Swee

PuritanReformed said...

@Swee:

Yes, the term "Calvinist" was initially a slur used to tar ministers coming out of Geneva and the churches they founded.

There are people with little education, and some of them have been used by God in evangelism and elsewhere. That is not my concern. My concern is that those called to the ministry ought to seek education unless it is impossible to get one. Which, in this age, should not be a legitimate excuse in SG.