“I wish I had studied _________ in seminary.”

I have been done with seminary for a few years now. I graduated from Northeastern Seminary, which is about an hour and a half away from my house. It was an unbelievable experience of gaining knowledge, being spiritually formed, and connecting with others. If you happen to live in upstate NY and are contemplating attending seminary or furthering your education, Northeastern may be for you.

Since I’ve been done I’ve helped out with a church plant, begun a faith community, and was an interim pastor at a local church. I’ve also continued my full-time gig as a Special Education teaching assistant. I’ve had so many great conversations with fellow pastors, spiritually sensitive people, co-workers, and friends in all of these forums. One thought that has come up recently has had me thinking.

I recently was emailed a document written by someone critiquing a Christian college’s website and curriculum. He asked me to check out the missional language and trajectory within his remarks. Then I saw on J.R. Briggs’ blog a post concerning what ten books every seminarian should read. There has also been the ongoing conversation over at J.R. Rozko’s blog (a lot of J.R.s, I know) on the ever changing structure, content, and importance of theological education.

Part of the issue is our cultural context and its discontinuous change. Things are constantly in flux affecting people and institutions, including church leaders and communities, thus making understanding our context all the more difficult. Many people are saying we’re at a point in history that is  unprecedented and what works today will not work tomorrow. These factors, and many, many more, make theological education at the seminary level challenging in preparing men and women for the future. This is especially true in light of the time spent in seminary. For some, by the time they finish their degree, the information they’ve learned may be invalid.

All of this has made me wonder the following question: What would you change or add to your seminary education?  This goes for people done with seminary and those in seminary. Or maybe you’re a leader in some fashion but haven’t gone to seminary. What would you look for in a seminary or wish you could study at a seminary? Or perhaps you’re not in a leadership position and wish your leaders had studied something in particular. Anything goes.

Any thoughts?

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2 thoughts on ““I wish I had studied _________ in seminary.”

  1. Most of the things I’ve found useful that I learned “in seminary” wasn’t “in seminary.” the most valuable bits of seminary were the personal interaction with real scholars (for me: E. earle Ellis was one), and the basic tools to study the Bible. People don’t so much need the practical “how you implement this stuff” teaching, they need Greek/Hebrew, go through the whole Bible with experts, learn hermeneutics and different interpretive approaches and perhaps a class or two how not to get fired as a pastor 😉 seminary, in my opinion, is too much “trade school” and not enough of how to read God’s word. I’d spend way more time on the history of interpretation, textual criticism, and Biblical Studies. I do less “education” classes and practical stuff. Honestly, you pick-up how to do a baptism and a hospital visit “on the job” – what you may not get right is how 2nd Temple Jews would read Jesus’ parable of “Lazarus and the Rich Man.” I mean, what good is it if your “delivery” is perfect at a funeral if you give them the wrong dogma? I’d make it shorter too. Basically, do an MA in Biblical Studies, not an MDiv. But that’s me, I’d did (am doing) the long road 😉

  2. @John: Thanks for stopping by and the comment. I agree with you on this: “I’d spend way more time on the history of interpretation, textual criticism, and Biblical Studies.” One thing I’ve thought about since finishing seminary is the idea that we all have the same Bible in front of us and yet there is so much diversity, primarily within Protestantism, which is another topic. I wish I had spent much more time concentrating on hermeneutical approaches and how particular people/movements/denominations came to their interpretations.
    In your time in seminary, was their a focus on spiritual formation, which could easily include biblical studies, to prepare you for post-seminary life?

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