Saturday, August 03, 2019

Musings on the circumstances of Harris' apostasy (Part 2)

[continued from here]


Many people, even myself prior to entering seminary, have the notion that somehow seminary is where you can truly learn about God, know God more deeply, and come out of it more mature in the faith. While certainly that is the stated goal of a biblical seminary, the fact of the matter is that such is a rosy picture of seminary that is not necessarily true. The truth is somewhat starker: Seminary is a place where one is supposed to learn more about God and His Word. However, since seminary is a place for the training of future leaders of the church, the Devil is there also. What better place to attack the Church than to attack her future leaders, when they are at one of the most formative points of their Christian life? Destroy a single Christian, and you get one soul. Destroy a pastor of a church, and you might get the entire church! Strike the shepherd, and the flock will scatter. Satan only knows this all too well. As much as a biblical seminary is a place of Christ, it is at the same time the place where the Devil works the most mischief.

The first point concerning seminary is that seminaries are not necessarily biblical. There are lots of liberal and apostate seminaries out there, where impressionable young men and women enter in as passionate Christians and come out of it cynical agnostics. Union Theological Seminary is one such workshop of the Devil. The second point concerning seminaries is that many of them, in the name of tolerance, will teach many alternate views (many unbiblical) without judging their relative merits. This second point holds true for many evangelical and evangelical-ish seminaries, where their goal is to not discriminate against viewpoints promoted by anyone who is even remotely an evangelical, for how can they judge another "Evangelical" to be unorthodox? Thus, under the label of "evangelical unity," errors and heresies are tolerated, as long as they do not seem to obviously heretical (a subjective judgment). Thus, theistic evolution is tolerated, death before the Fall is tolerated, and even Open Theism (in some circles) are tolerated. Now, evangelical seminaries do not necessarily believe that all views are equally biblical, and many theologians can somehow separate their internal convictions and priorities of doctrine from their external teaching and profession. But this is not the case for young impressionable men and women! The reason why we had joined seminary is because we do not know of all this. You cannot expect a young seminarian (or old seminarian) to distinguish between allowance of an error in a person, and an allowance of an error in a theological system! It is the tendency among those learning things for the first time, especially the bright ones among us, to run with something that has been taught, to its logical conclusion, or what we perceive to be its logical conclusions! That is why there is a strong tendency among those embracing the five points of Calvinism for the first time to be attracted to hyper-Calvinism, because they think that is the logical implications of the five points. Systematizing of one's theology occurs all the time, consciously or unconsciously, and exposing impressionable men and women to error without guidance, in the name of "evangelical unity," is probably one of the most egregious sins within Evangelical seminaries.

Thirdly, even in seminaries that have a stronger doctrinal commitment, like Westminster Seminary California, good teaching does not necessarily result in orthodoxy, because ultimately orthodoxy comes from the heart, the spirit, not the head. Orthodoxy is meant to be the intellectual expression of one's submission to God, but the substance of orthodoxy, the regenerate heart, is the Holy Spirit's prerogative to give. I personally know of two men during the time of my time in WSCAL who apostatized from the Christian faith, one to Roman Catholicism and another to Eastern Orthodoxy. One of my juniors has gone off the deep end into Critical Race Theory and I sincerely doubt his Christian faith. The point is that even the best seminary is no protection from the attacks of the Evil One. If Satan cannot get at you through your professors, he will get at you from others you interact with, in church, society, friends, and now social media. The seminarian has become the number one target for all of Satan's schemes to destroy the person's spiritual life. Spiritual warfare is real, and the seminarian is the target. Satan will throw everything he can, including messing with your relationships, emotions, friends, family and so on, including the kitchen sink, to destroy the seminarian. And the sins of pastors and professors are the best weapons Satan will use, because how better to destroy the church than from the inside? How best to corrode a future pastor's trust in biblical doctrine than to destroy the respect that seminarian has for his professor and his pastor? How best to destroy the future pastor's passion than by having the church embroiled in destructive tribalism and dirty politics in church (which does happen, sadly to say)?

As a former seminarian, I will gladly say that I treasure the experience and learning and will not give it up for the wealth of the world. BUT, I have realized just how tough seminary is, spiritually. Anyone who thinks he is spiritually strong is more than welcome to try out seminary, and see just how much of a tempest the Devil can cook up in his life!

The second part about seminary, that is common with many institutes of higher learning, is the community or lack thereof, which the Devil will exploit. Community is a good thing when done properly, but it is a most wicked and perverse force when it is not. If the society around a person is ungodly, it takes a significant amount of will-power (if that is even enough) to resist joining them in their ungodliness. Seminaries are not exempt from this social phenomenon. A good community will exhort each other to love and good deeds (c.f. Heb. 10:24-25). A bad community will drag the godliest person down to condoning the most wicked of sins, even if he does not do it himself. And lack of community makes one lonely and susceptible to temptation from the world, which is all-pervasive, all around us.

In seminaries, young men (and women) oftentimes come from all around the world and move to a new location, even in a new country, away from friends and family and their previous churches and church-fellowships. There is a potential for spiritual disaster if not handled properly, especially if the city one is in is a godless city. It is easier to be influenced by the prevailing culture than to stand apart from it. As the Devil is the "god" of this world, this is one tool that he will certainly exploit to the max, to destroy the souls of seminarians.

[to be continued]


David said...

As you already know, people will disappoint! All of us do it. The only one that doesn't is Christ! I really enjoyed Part 2 and is full of wisdom. Sure would be helpful if people could read this before they experience it so that they could be better prepared. Thanks!

Daniel C said...

Hi David,

yes, I am sure many of us do. That does not minimize the hurt one bit, and we are not always rational in our decision-making.

I do agree that it could be helpful for some people. But I know I am a pariah in much of the American "Reformed blogosphere," and Singaporeans by and large are anti-intellectual