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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Go To Seminary, Get Labeled?

Since I started going to seminary in January 2013, several people asked me why I am going to seminary and mentioned some very interesting remarks that gave me the impression that they were labeling me. Let me explain.

Several people I know who are close to me desire to go to school and love the thought of going to seminary. They know what seminary is all about and understand theological training as an essential growth period to develop a biblical foundation that will last a lifetime. However, I do not believe everyone understands what seminary actually is, or what the purpose is for going to seminary to achieve higher education for the glory of God. These "very interesting remarks" were responses to questions I was asked. The remarks gave me the impression they did not understand the topic of seminary. It seemed the responses were clouded with presuppositional perspectives - since I go to SBTS, "I am prideful" or "I am now a Calvinist" or "I am better [than others in ministry]." I hope no one really thinks this, for I am purely speculating with caution and graciousness. Nevertheless, I sense this when around certain people who do not understand the importance and value of going to seminary.

I say all of this because I have been labeled recently by someone who I had to correct. They said I am now a dogmatic theologian, i.e. Calvinist, because I "go to seminary." I find this comical and naive. Since I am not currently serving full-time in the ministry or ordained as a pastor yet, it appears, from their perspective, I am in some fashion being "prideful" and acting like "I am better" than others who are in the ministry as well. So I ask myself, "I am not able to Tweet quotes and Facebook posts about what I am reading or learning because it is putting me above others in the ministry? I am not able to share the glorious truths of the gospel or any other insights that I am learning with whosoever without coming off as a know-it-all? I am not allowed to retweet someone or read something from a person who is reformed?" I find all of this shocking, misdirected, uneducated, and silly in the most gentle spirit (especially since I am not a boastful and proselytizing Calvinist in any shape or form).

Honestly, I believe going to seminary, personally, does the reversal of these things. From personal experience I have noticed these things to be self evident for sure. First, seminary should not make your more prideful, but make your more humble because it reveals how much you really do not know (and how much more there is to study!) You learn how to love the church, minister to people, become a greater servant, and love God. Second, seminary does not make you a dogmatic theologian (i.e. Calvinist), but rather exposes you to the biblical data in all subjects so you can shape your own theological formation and convictions in Christian theology. It is true most people are already set in their theological convictions or go to seminary where they can identity with those traditions, but I am going to one of the best seminaries in the world to develop a biblical foundation for a lifetime of ministry, not become a some superior theologian. Lastly, seminary does not promote elitism among other Christians, but promotes "unity" and "diversity" in the body for the equipping of the saints. Not to "be better" than others, but rather "better" equip the church.

The reason I write these things is because I believe some people could possible view seminary wrong and label me incorrectly for what my intention, purpose, and goals are for enrolling and attending seminary (specifically at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). People need to rejoice for those who get accepted to receive the blessed opportunity of studying among some of the greatest evangelical scholars, and obtain a robust theological training so they can impact the world for the glory of Christ. Seminary is absolutely good in all phases because it exists to advance the eternal proposes of God through training men and women to fulfill the Great Commission. I want to be trained and educated in the things of God so I can effectively meet the needs of others in ministry and Christian education. Selah!

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