I come from a fundamentalist background in which believers are often distrustful of higher education. On a number of occasions, I’ve had church members ask me, “Haven’t you been in school long enough?” or “Aren’t you afraid of coming out of school a liberal?”
This distrust of education has a social history in the US, and it’s still felt in certain denominations and areas of the country. If you’re not sure about higher education, why should you think about attending seminary?
I offer three reasons:
- Attend seminary because you are called. When the Lord has given us a task, he also equips us for that task. That is the very foundation of the Reformation view of “vocation.” If God has called you to be a teacher/preacher of his Word, it’s beneficial have proper training.
- Attend seminary because you recognize the need. Very few of us would feel comfortable being diagnosed by a physician who was “self-taught” with no credentials. The truth is that he or she might be a great doctor, but there is no way to be sure without proper testimonials. If we think that learning about the body is important for a physician, shouldn’t we also think that learning about the Bible is important for a minister?
- Attend seminary because you listened. One of the greatest gifts that I have been given in life is the counsel of wise brothers and sisters in Christ. Before you attend seminary, ask the advice of a few people who you trust. (Try to include at least one person who has attended seminary.) Listen carefully to what these counselors tell you. Often, those who are around us (our family, our close friends) know our gifts better than we do ourselves. Pay special attention to this advice, and weigh it against your own sense of calling.
I loved my time in seminary (at Knox and at TEDS). It was a wonderful season of growth and learning for me. The same may be true for you if you attend seminary for the right reasons.
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