the weblog of Alan Knox

More on the Seminary

Posted by on Feb 11, 2010 in discipleship | 5 comments

Scot McKnight started a great discussion on the role of the seminary in his post called “Seminary Re:mixed.”

One of the main questions is this: Should the seminary primarily train academically or should it train pastors?

The problem with the first option is that academic exercises and studies are not always beneficial to the individual believer or to the church. The problem with the second option is that pastors/elders cannot be trained outside of the church. Perhaps they can be given information, but information does not an elder make.

I think it is beneficial to learn Greek, Hebrew, New and Old Testament background, Church History, Theology (from different perspectives, etc. But, here’s the thing, ALL believers need to learn these things, not just pastors/elders.

I would love to see more seminaries adjust their missions to the education of the whole church, and not just the education of pastors/elders or missionaries.

Also, I would love to see more seminaries acknowledge that they cannot train pastors/elders. Pastors/elders are trained as they live in community with other believers, both those who are more mature than they are and those who are less mature. This takes time and experience, not reading and writing.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-11-2010

    The comments are worth reading Alan. The vast majority are saying “you just won’t have enough information if it is in the local church” 8)

  2. 2-11-2010

    Not sure what was wrong with God’s design for the seminary.

  3. 2-11-2010

    II Tim 2:2 and Titus 1:5 were the original seminary design.

    The seminary was meant to be itinerant, not the students. The students were trained by life together in the field, in a newly planted church or in a troubled church where the itinerant team had returned to help.

    Training was by experiential participation in the field, in the fight, under the stress of living out Christianity in a hostile world. While it included doctrine, it emphasized immediate praxis “…thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” II Tim 3:10,11

    Travel for the itinerant teams was facilitated by the hospitality of elders. In this way, training became a real life, 24×7 exchange under a wide variety of circumstances of everyday life.

    The method lacks our factory efficiency of making the teachers stationary and the students itinerant, but I think we’ve once again lost much more than we’ve gained.

  4. 2-11-2010


    It’s amazing that the church managed to survive so long without seminaries.


    Don’t forget Titus 2.


  5. 2-12-2010

    OH! You are right. How delightful to broaden this. Titus 2 shows Paul simply encouraging Titus to do what Paul does with the whole church:

    “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:17-21)

    Titus was being told to “keep back nothing profitable” to the whole church, as well as training faithful men (and, per Titus’s assigned journeys and Titus 1:5, helping churches get back on track).

    Thank you, Alan, for these labors of yours. I am so impatient. Congratulations on your progress with the dissertation. But I’m really waiting for the books and tapes and seminars I am so hopeful will follow. You embody II Tim 2:24,25