Monday, May 12, 2008

It shall all end soon

Well, I just took my last final of the spring semester of my first year at Denver Seminary. All I have left now is preach one last sermon in my Homiletics (a fancy word for "preaching") class. Then I get a wopping two weeks off and then I will be taking 2 Biblical Hebrew Classes throughout the summer.

Here's some things I want to make clear about seminary that I have learned thus far:

1. Seminary is not a "cemetery." This joke goes back a long time and it suggests that seminary is a dead place where no life happens. The thousands of pages of reading, tests, new languages, and variety of theological opinions make seminary a confusing place, but if someone is spiritually dead because of seminary, then the problem lies elsewhere than in their classes and studies. Sadly, many seminary students disengage in ministry or become spectators and critics of their churches. Rather than finding their own Christian community and ministry opportunities, they place a false expectation on their professors to feed them spiritual food. Who goes to law school thinking it's going to be like time with the guidance counselor in kindergarten? Who goes to med school thinking their teachers are going to hold their hand and make smiley faces on their medical dissertations? You have to find your life outside of your seminary studies.

2. Seminary is a cemetery. Most people come to seminary soon after college. They have just been a part of biblical sound and vibrant ministries. They may have come to know the Lord in college, attended their first mission trip, and many people make some serious faith-solidifying decisions. Seminary is a cemetery in this: we must let our opinions die. We may hold convictions up the wazoo, but seminary will either humble us or harden us. We will embrace our beliefs with a humble orthodoxy. Or we will be come hardened in our beliefs, unwilling to see other biblical interpretations and practices do hold at least some merit.

3. Seminary is not a waste. Too many churches have given up on theological education. They think that it does not connect to real life and ministry. They think it puts pastors' heads in the clouds rather than in the lives of their people. Well, I just spent 5 years in full-time ministry before coming to seminary (which I recommend to many before coming to seminary, BTW). I wish I would have had the biblical insight and depth that seminary offers. I wish I could have heard about the highs and lows of church history in order that I might not repeat endeavors already attempted and failed throughout history. I wish my teaching had the humility that recognizes I am just one seeker in the history of a great movement. My thoughts are carried on the backs and lives of many who have gone before me. I am not a spiritual giant, but one beggar who has been handed some bread by those who have gone before me. That is what seminary offers and that is not a waste.

3 comments:

Tone said...

Matt,

You encourage me in that I may just end up going to seminary someday. Thanks for not being a stone-cold academic!

Tim said...

Good thoughts on seminary. I will take them to heart. I'm jealous in a good way. Keep on keeping on. Love ya.

Pastor Mark said...

one more comment on seminary . . . having been partially through seminary myself, you offer a good perspective for someone who is considering going or finds themselves already there and trying to make sense of it.