3 Reasons to Attend Seminary

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Samuel Lamerson, professor of New Testament at Knox Theological Seminary.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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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Written by
Jonathan Watson
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  • Many thanks to Dr Lamerson. If one is called, he or she must be equipped to handle the word of God rightly and objectively as well. I am for higher education, especially in the area of Theology. I like Knox.

  • I appreciate the article. I think, however, that it leaves open a matter that deserves attention. How do we test whether a man is called or not? I believe that the call of God is one that is extended to a candidate by means of a church. If we believe the church is the called people of God who gather regularly to worship the Living God, we will want to ensure the man is truly gifted and prepared for such a call. We also believe that the men who serve as elders or overseers will have the desire and knowledge to call a man who is clearly prepared. When attending seminary a student 'aspires' to the ministry and it is seminary training that is designed to test, encourage and prepare a man for that aspiration. The seminary is in service to the churches. If one who aspires to the ministry does not survive the course of training there, he should be able to see that his aspiration is not equal to the requisite qualification for ministry. He should see his calling along other lines, as elder or deacon in a church. In other words, the church in seeking to call a man to ministry, should be able to call such a one who is fully prepared (as if anyone is fully prepared for ministry). Many believe themselves called when they are in fact unable to meet the requisite requirements. It is really important because we want men to handle the Word aright.

    I know this opens a lot of questions and objections. I only wanted to point out that seminary training is important as it assists the churches by preparing godly men for ministry. Churches need to know the training their preacher has had. If someone cannot get through seminary level training the church ought to know that. Of course there are many who pass seminary training and have trouble in the ministry. We who preach are sinners as well. Just feeling yourself called isn't enough. I want to see if you are trained properly so that the Christ of the church would be glorified, the people of Christ will be edified and the minister of Christ will be humbly obedient to the Word of Christ.

    As another thought, seminaries ought to teach the students about the alone-ness of ministry. That is, the work requires prophetic style of life. It's a bit like Moses who would go into the tabernacle of Meeting with God. He went in alone. He came out, glowing with glory. Our congregations should see that in we who preach. I've got to think more on this but I just wanted to mention it. It is a humbling thing to preach.
    Thanks eh.
    Just a few thoughts.

Written by Jonathan Watson