Distance Ed and Accreditation

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crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by crhoades
[For giggles...so what are everyone's thoughts about Bahnsen Theological Seminary (non-accredited, distance ed, theonomic, presuppositional)...(please don't go for the bait....being sarcastic:lol:)

[Edited on 5-12-2005 by crhoades]

[Edited on 5-12-2005 by crhoades]

Hey,
Paul Manata went there. Can't be too bad;)

Doh! He bit! Wrong fish though...thought I could sucker Paul in on this one. He is doing BTS but he is also preparing to go to brick and mortar land. Possible PhD in his future.

BTS's enrollment should skyrocket soon with his Sansone debate and Doug Wilson linking to him... Actually I do hope more people take advantage of CMF as well as BTS. I've effectively listened to all of the classes that they offer without doing the written work. Great stuff overall.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by crhoades
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by crhoades
[For giggles...so what are everyone's thoughts about Bahnsen Theological Seminary (non-accredited, distance ed, theonomic, presuppositional)...(please don't go for the bait....being sarcastic:lol:)

[Edited on 5-12-2005 by crhoades]

[Edited on 5-12-2005 by crhoades]

Hey,
Paul Manata went there. Can't be too bad;)

Doh! He bit! Wrong fish though...thought I could sucker Paul in on this one. He is doing BTS but he is also preparing to go to brick and mortar land. Possible PhD in his future.

BTS's enrollment should skyrocket soon with his Sansone debate and Doug Wilson linking to him... Actually I do hope more people take advantage of CMF as well as BTS. I've effectively listened to all of the classes that they offer without doing the written work. Great stuff overall.

I'm sorry! That was funny, though!:lol::lol:
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
The bible does not require a man to get a degree before he can begin ministry.

Whenever we regulate the ministry of Christ outside of the parameters of the bible, we should be careful about how stringently we hold to them.

If i'm not mistaken, the PCA doesn't technically require any formal education to become a minister. They put the emphasis on the ordination process itself.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
For the sake of discussion and argument, wouldn't any Christian desiring to attend a place like Westminster Theological Seminary, which costs over $20,000 to obtain a Ph.D. degree from, be acting as a horrible steward of their money and resources? Especially considering they can get a Ph.D. from a good distance ed. school for less than $10,000?

I don't see how it is beneficial to put yourself and your family into years of debt so that you can get the "more impressive" degree from the "better" school. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I see nothing "Christian" about charging people an enormous amount of money to prove they know something to others.

Believe me, I'd love to get my Ph.D. from WTS, but I know I cannot afford it, and likely never could justify spending that much money on a degree. I don't want to ruin my wife and I's financial wellbeing and security for decades so that I can get a "respectable" degree. What other option do people like myself have?

[Edited on 5-16-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]
 

daveb

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia

Believe me, I'd love to get my Ph.D. from WTS, but I know I cannot afford it, and likely never could justify spending that much money on a degree. I don't want to ruin my wife and I's financial wellbeing and security for decades so that I can get a "respectable" degree. What other option do people like myself have?

[Edited on 5-16-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]

My thinking is along the same lines. I've been working and saving up money for seminary for a few years but I still am unable to afford it. I've been unwilling (so far) to take on large amounts of debt. The cost of moving to seminary is why I've looked into DL degrees, they seem like the only affordable option.

I have my church and prof's urging me to go to a good seminary because they believe I am a "great student" and would love to see me become a minister. It's not that I do not have the abilities, gifts or desire to go to school, I just don't have the money.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Sheesh I'm practically $50,000 in debt from undergrad and law school and seminary seems hopelessly far away at this juncture in time. Maybe I could just learn Greek, keep studying the Bible and progress in sanctification in the interim... trying to pay off my debt would be nice too. Not all of my student loans never came through as expected in law school. Why I hoped to get a joint degree in law and divinity? I'll never know-- misplaced idealism i guess. The story of my life. Though, some naysayers might come saying my pursuit of pastoral ministry is non-option for me-- but I will accomplish it in God's strength and in his timing.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
I'm definitely going to get my M.Div. from a brick-and-mortar school (RPTS in Pittsburgh, being supported by my Presbytery financially and in other important ways), but I am just thinking further down the road.

With my aspirations to someday teach and write, I know I must have a professional degree (Th.D., Ph.D., etc.). However, I still see no reason why I would want to put myself in a financial bind for, likely, decades, in order to go to a juggernaut institution, living in residence for the time it takes me to complete such a degree program.

I have no desire to put my family along with myself in tens of thousands of dollars of debt for many years to come just because some Christian institutions don't respect distance education.

And honestly, if a Christian institution looks down on me for wanting to do such a thing, with responsible Christian stewardship and the protection of my family's future being my chief end throughout it all, then I don't want to have anything to do with them anyway. That's how I see it, honestly. :2cents:

[Edited on 5-16-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]
 

New wine skin

Puritan Board Freshman
Recognizing that all education programs are not created equal, does anyone with a strong opinion against distance ed have any constructive thoughts regarding the MA Distance program at RTS?

I plan on getting this degree, then by God's grace and if my grades are good enough, I plan to attend a secular university to get a second MA and PhD in History and/or Philosophy.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by trevorjohnson
Written above:

"1. As tempting a distance ed is for those who are in difficult circumstances (e.g., father of 4, has a job, difficult to relocate etc) a man who intends to present himself as a ministerial candidate to a confessional Reformed/Presbyterian denomination who is presently unable to earn a traditional, seminary degree from a confessional Reformed seminary should not pursue the pastoral ministry until he is able to earn a degree from an educationally and theologically sound seminary."


YIKES! Talk about fighting words.

I wish we Calvinists would get out of ivory towers of academia and try to do more actual elbow work instead of gathering degrees in order to pick apart the order of the decrees.

Take a look at the percentages of missionaries sent out by various denominations. Some of these "theology -lite" denominations are kicking our butt as far as mobilizing men to go to where they are most needed. why? Because we love our abstractions and our educations and degrees. Some of our reformed denominations consider church plants in Illinois under the category "missions" (i.e. home missions)...

I reject that a man needs a seminary degree to be ordained, much less a "traditional" school.

What about the Apostles? What about the great majority of pastors throughout the ages. What about the vast majority of pastors even today in places other than the US?



Trevor

:ditto:

The bible does not require a man to get a degree before he can begin ministry.

Whenever we regulate the ministry of Christ outside of the parameters of the bible, we should be careful about how stringently we hold to them.

If i'm not mistaken, the PCA doesn't't technically require any formal education to become a minister. They put the emphasis on the ordination process itself.

:ditto:

The PCA permits an examination to be ordained. No formal seminary ed. is required.

Would anyone care to compile a list of the great preachers of all time? Maybe adding their respective educational backgrounds too.

I'll start:

John Bunyan - SOME grammar school.

John Owen, scholar of scholars, said (paraphrasing) he'd trade all of his academic career and acumen, if he could preach like that ignorant tinker (John Bunyan).

A man trained by the Spirit through fiery trials.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
...

I reject that a man needs a seminary degree to be ordained, much less a "traditional" school.

What about the Apostles? What about the great majority of pastors throughout the ages. What about the vast majority of pastors even today in places other than the US?


Trevor

Strictly speaking, I don't disagree. But the reason the PCA tends to stress a formal education is assure sound biblical doctrine is maintained. The risk of lowering the standards is that men will become elders and pastors who do not have a solid training in God's word, in systematic theology, and apologetics. We want to avoid wishy-washy teaching and doctrine - or men who (while still genuine in faith) teach errors.

That is not to say that a person can not learn and educate himself in God's Word. All men a women should do so. Studying scripture should be a desire and duty for all believers. But more often than not, we "Christians" do not have time to really study the Bible like we should.

And there are those who might feel a real desire to serve God's people, but who are lacking in the knowledge of scriptural doctrine - and should not be pastors and teachers. They might be talented speakers - but they might do more harm than good in the pulpit or behind the lectern.

So many PCA churches encourage anyone who feels the call to be an elder to have at least some formal education from a trusted seminary. In the mean time, the church should encorage men to study God's Word, and teach a class or two, so the elders can guide and mentor men who appear to have a calling to also be elders or pastors.

So the question should not be "why should we require our elders to have a formal education" but rather "what seminary will provide the most solid biblical education?"

[Edited on 1-13-2006 by Civbert]
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
"what seminary will provide the most solid biblical education?"
Maybe the question should be, "why can't we get solid biblical education at our local PCA church?"

It might be a good thing to be educated within our local churches, and to raise up leaders within our local churches.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
John Bunyan - SOME grammar school.

John Owen, scholar of scholars, said (paraphrasing) he'd trade all of his academic career and acumen, if he could preach like that ignorant tinker (John Bunyan).

Yes, but it is exceptions that test the rule.

Why would we be content, as a rule, to accept untrained ministers? We wouldn't accept physicians without formal training, no matter how pious they were, would we? Would we be happy with supreme court justices -- e.g., Samuel Alito -- without a law degree, but great piety? Why would we operate with such a standard for ministers?

Implicit in the argument that the only thing that is necessary is piety is the assumption that the ministry does not require learning or only very narrow learning or that the ministry is not as important as other offices (e.g., the law or medicine etc).

Confessional Reformed folk have never accepted the pietist argument that all that is truly necessary for ministry is regeneration, piety, and zeal. In fact, most of the early pietists were highly educated! Once, however, this standard of is accepted subsequent generations decline in their knowledge and ability to function.

The ministry is incredibly demanding. Nearly EVERY pastor I´ve ever met wishes a) he had paid attention in seminary; b) had more time for study now; c) could go back for MORE training.

Pastors are generalists. They must answer questions in all fields of theology and biblical study and practica. More than that, they must make deductions and applications in difficult circumstances, sometimes with no preparation. There must be a well of training and learning from which to draw. If there is no such well, the answers will likely be just as shallow.

If I may speak frankly, those who don´t want such things, in my experience, are foolish and arrogant and not very useful arrows in the quiver of the Lord. Yes, the Lord can still use donkeys, but why test Providence?

As for local churches doing the training, as has been pointed out in this discussion many times, most local pastors are not expert in all the areas needed. Most local pastors KNOW this and would not present themselves as sufficiently expert in all the necessary areas.

There was a time when a very bright and intelligent person could know most of what could be known. That time has long passed. With the explosion of publishing (which is only growing exponentially with the advent of the computer and the web) has come an explosion of knowledge.

I teach in three fields (Historical theology, Systematics, and church history) which is very unusual. I can barely keep up with them, even though they are related.

Think of trying to keep up with ALL the fields (7 loci of systematics; Patristics (500 years of history in 2 primary languages and a huge body of secondary literature in 3-4 languages), medieval history (1000 years of history in Latin and a huge body of secondary literature in 3-4 languages), Reformation (Luther's German and Latin works fill 50+ volumes alone, the Corpus Reformatorum is in German and Latin and fills 109 volumes; the secondary lit is in 3 languages and my select bibliography http://public.csusm.edu/guests/rsclark/Reformation_Bibliography.htm runs to 22 single spaced pages), post-Reformation, Modern; OT (with dozens of sub-disciplines), NT (with dozens of sub-disciplines) and with all the necessary languages (Hebrew, (and 4-5 other ancient near eastern languages) Aramaic, Greek, Latin, German, French, etc. Then there's practical/pastoral/ecclesiastical theology.

I do this full-time (and pastor part-time) and I can barely keep up. There isn't a local pastor or even a team of local pastors who are engaged in the work of the ministry full-time, writing sermons, making visits, sitting in session/consistory meetings etc who has the time to keep up fully with any two of these 50-60 areas of expertise.

So, as I've been arguing for years, we have two choices: a learned ministry taught by specialists in seminaries or an ignorant ministry taught by other, well-meaning, but slightly less ignorant people.

In the latter case, those so trained will train the next generation etc. If we choose this path our ministry will gradually spin its way into a dark oblivion.

rsc
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
John Bunyan - SOME grammar school.

John Owen, scholar of scholars, said (paraphrasing) he'd trade all of his academic career and acumen, if he could preach like that ignorant tinker (John Bunyan).

Yes, but it is exceptions that test the rule.

Why would we be content, as a rule, to accept untrained ministers? We wouldn't accept physicians without formal training, no matter how pious they were, would we? Would we be happy with supreme court justices -- e.g., Samuel Alito -- without a law degree, but great piety? Why would we operate with such a standard for ministers?

Actually there have been many distinguished Justices who do not have a law degree. It is actually desirable in many cases, to have a different perspective than the lock stepo law school route. Would you rather have a bright, conservative Senator, for example, or Ginsburg, or Breyer, or Stevens? This is not an exception, because many Senators have a better understanding of U.S. Constitutional Law because of their commitment to it (e.g. Ginsburg and Breyer are committed to violating a core U.S. legal principle by importing International Law as precedent).

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
Implicit in the argument that the only thing that is necessary is piety is the assumption that the ministry does not require learning or only very narrow learning or that the ministry is not as important as other offices (e.g., the law or medicine etc).

Confessional Reformed folk have never accepted the pietist argument that all that is truly necessary for ministry is regeneration, piety, and zeal. In fact, most of the early pietists were highly educated! Once, however, this standard of is accepted subsequent generations decline in their knowledge and ability to function.

I have not seen anyone argue that piety is the only thing that is important. Rather I have seen it argued that piety along with learning is important. And I have seen it questioned whether Seminary is the only (or best) place to learn piety and theology

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
The ministry is incredibly demanding. Nearly EVERY pastor I´ve ever met wishes a) he had paid attention in seminary; b) had more time for study now; c) could go back for MORE training.

Pastors are generalists. They must answer questions in all fields of theology and biblical study and practica. More than that, they must make deductions and applications in difficult circumstances, sometimes with no preparation. There must be a well of training and learning from which to draw. If there is no such well, the answers will likely be just as shallow.

If I may speak frankly, those who don´t want such things, in my experience, are foolish and arrogant and not very useful arrows in the quiver of the Lord. Yes, the Lord can still use donkeys, but why test Providence?

As for local churches doing the training, as has been pointed out in this discussion many times, most local pastors are not expert in all the areas needed. Most local pastors KNOW this and would not present themselves as sufficiently expert in all the necessary areas.

There was a time when a very bright and intelligent person could know most of what could be known. That time has long passed. With the explosion of publishing (which is only growing exponentially with the advent of the computer and the web) has come an explosion of knowledge.

I teach in three fields (Historical theology, Systematics, and church history) which is very unusual. I can barely keep up with them, even though they are related.

Think of trying to keep up with ALL the fields (7 loci of systematics; Patristics (500 years of history in 2 primary languages and a huge body of secondary literature in 3-4 languages), medieval history (1000 years of history in Latin and a huge body of secondary literature in 3-4 languages), Reformation (Luther's German and Latin works fill 50+ volumes alone, the Corpus Reformatorum is in German and Latin and fills 109 volumes; the secondary lit is in 3 languages and my select bibliography http://public.csusm.edu/guests/rsclark/Reformation_Bibliography.htm runs to 22 single spaced pages), post-Reformation, Modern; OT (with dozens of sub-disciplines), NT (with dozens of sub-disciplines) and with all the necessary languages (Hebrew, (and 4-5 other ancient near eastern languages) Aramaic, Greek, Latin, German, French, etc. Then there's practical/pastoral/ecclesiastical theology.

I do this full-time (and pastor part-time) and I can barely keep up. There isn't a local pastor or even a team of local pastors who are engaged in the work of the ministry full-time, writing sermons, making visits, sitting in session/consistory meetings etc who has the time to keep up fully with any two of these 50-60 areas of expertise.

So, as I've been arguing for years, we have two choices: a learned ministry taught by specialists in seminaries or an ignorant ministry taught by other, well-meaning, but slightly less ignorant people.

In the latter case, those so trained will train the next generation etc. If we choose this path our ministry will gradually spin its way into a dark oblivion.

rsc

I think we run a huge risk by this kind of reasoning. One example: perhaps the worst place to learn the Biblical languages is at a seminary. Most barely cover it, and even the best are pitful compared to a college that teaches Greek or Hebrew (not to mention a Graduate school). Should we advise every seminarian to spend his firts year in language training at another institution? I would guess you would not, for a myriad of reasons. Many would be completely correct and get an "amen" corner. But the fact remains that 95% (or more) of pastors have almost no Greek/Hebrew ability within 5 years of graduating. The vast majority of senior seminarians have abominable language skills as well. Give me a man (in the sense of language ability) who has plodded through Machen for several years and actually worked with the text over a man who blitzed through a 4 week Greek course and a couple of other beginning language courses, and is virtually inept at the languages.

Does that mean that seminary is bad? Does it mean you can't learn the languages there? Of course not. But it is an area where "the best you can get is at seminary" is patently false.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Why does this have to be "either-or"? Here is what I should have done before I went to brick and mortar seminary. I should have taken a year off, learned Hebrew via virtual campus, got a reasonable income producing job (I would have worked in oil and gas pipelining--brutal but for a young guy the money is good), used that extra time in summer and holidays to prepare for Second semester greek, etc. My GPA would have been MUCH HIGHER, I would have learned more of the languages, etc. Then, I would have gone off to RTS and I feel I could have done more "good work" there.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
to a college that teaches Greek or Hebrew (not to mention a Graduate school)

I agree. I took Koine Greek under Carlton Winbery (the guy who wrote the syntax book). Since college was less intense, I was able to focus better on Greek and learned more.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Actually there have been many distinguished Justices who do not have a law degree.

And these are exceptions that test the rule. Would Sam Alito be where he is, or justice Roberts, without a reputable law degree? No. Ask Harriet Miers.

I have not seen anyone argue that piety is the only thing that is important.

The sem is not best place to learn piety that is the function of the local church. Some have argued (e.g., the Bunyan example) that piety is all that really matters. This is a common pietist argument and assumption.

I think we run a huge risk by this kind of reasoning. One example: perhaps the worst place to learn the Biblical languages is at a seminary.

Fred, I respectfully disagree. Our students, our graduates learn the languages. Yes, they should know Greek before they come, but it doesn't happen much any more. So we teach them when they come. Then we teach them Hebrew. We don't just teach them how to use Bibleworks, in fact, Dr Estelle discourages BW (et al)!

We require our students to use only their Greek and Hebrew texts for final exams in Systematics classes. It's very hard work, but it happens. I can't speak for other seminaries, but after our students have passed courses with Baugh and Estelle and co, they can read the languages and they do. We insist on it.

We still believe and practice Machen's program for the seminary: "specialists in the Bible."

rsc
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Scott,

Respectfully, you are incorrect about the Supreme Court. Miers et al are the exception. The current "hard and fast rule" of having to possess a law degree from an Ivy League school is the historical exception. Many would argue that such a "rule" is the very problem itself that has lead to rampant judicial excess. There is a reason that many doctors think that they are God. For the most part, it stems from their separation from society, real people and a belief that their education makes them infallible. The same is very true of lawyers and judges today.

We'll just have to disagree about the lanaguages. But my guess is that WSC would not want to survey its alumni who have graduated more than 10 years ago. You would be in for a very rude awakening. I am pretty well traveled (in the PCA at least). I have been with pastors at GA, various Presbyteries, a couple of seminaries and even overseas. The incredibly rare exception is the man who can read almost anything in the original language. Many others (who teach languages) share my opinion, and that is why there is now (in my opinion a very good thing) a push to make men buckle down with the languages.

Again, that is not to say that seminary is a bad place because of this. It can be done. Modifications can be made by the student.

To be honest, you must not produce many graduates. Because everytime that anyone makes an observation about shortcomings in the Reformed Church (i.e. OPC, PCA, etc), you simply respond with: "but our students..." I need to meet some of these students at Presbytery and GA.

I hate to have to keep saying this over and over again, but I don't want the "readers" to get the wrong impression. I think seminaries are a good thing. I have profited from my time at RTS. I am thankful for the work of WSC, which I think does a good job, has excellent men and is a benefit to the Church.

But I think the rigid, overwhelming rule you present is incorrect.

[Edited on 1/14/2006 by fredtgreco]
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
...We'll just have to disagree about the lanaguages. But my guess is that WSC would not want to survey its alumni who have graduated more than 10 years ago.

Ah, but we have. I'm not talking through my hat.

Our grads use the languages because we taught them to it here. We don't just talk about it. We do it. Would it be better for them to have them before sem? Absolutely. Can it be done in sem so they use the languages for the rest of their ministry? Yes. It's happening right now. We just had testimony at our board meeting from a man, the Rev Mr Bradd Niemeyer, who pastors a URC in Phoenix, who talked about how he has continued to do just that.

My Greek and Hebrew improved in the pastorate because I worked with them daily. That's true of others as well.

I don't think that Bradd and I are the exception. We had two other alums speak to the board who said similar things.

We've done surveys of our alumni. Do they all keep up with their languages as they should and as they want to do? Probably not, but some might find it surprising to what degree our grads do keep up with them. We have had many people tell us that our grads preach from the Scriptures (because they know and use the languages) in way that they have not often heard.

About 90%+ of our grads get a call after sem. We don't have a lot of fellows floating about who can't get a call. Churches tend to snap up our grads after the trial sermon.

Don't get me wrong. We have our weaknesses. I'm quite aware of them. I was chief academic officer for 3 years here and accreditation liaison. I know the weaknesses better than most, but there is a difference.

To be honest, you must not produce many graduates. Because every time that anyone makes an observation about shortcomings in the Reformed Church (i.e. OPC, PCA, etc), you simply respond with: "but our students..." I need to meet some of these students at Presbytery and GA.

Yes, you should. We've been here for 25+ years and we have about 600+ graduates across the globe.

Proportionally most of them are west of the Rockies and we have proportionally fewer grads in the southeast US. Originally, we agreed not to recruit students east of the Rockies, but when our formal affiliation with WTS/P ended, so did that agreement.

We also have a harder time getting folks from the south to move to San Diego. Some of that is due to the fact that the PCA has a denominational seminary.

I suspect that there are some misperceptions of San Diego perpetuated by the media. San Diego is not LA, but it must look like it to folk from the Southeast US. We get folk from NY, DC, Boston, Grand Rapids and from the west, of course. Still we're only about 140-150 students, whereas RTS has multiple campuses adding up to thousands. WTS/P has similar numbers.

Among our alums are Mike Horton and Kim Riddlebarger. They're not too obscure. We have alums, of course, of whom we're less proud, but most of our current faculty are WSC alums. That's not just some "good old boy" system.

I don't want to sound arrogant, and I am (obviously) a big "booster" of WSC, but no, we're not theological a McDonalds. We don't grind out and quick fry hamburgers in multiple locations and by distance. We're more like a fine restaurant. Our students learn to prepare healthy, rich meals for their congregations -- to stretch the metaphor.

Have you seen "The Big Night"?

I've been around WSC off and on since 1984, and I've done a little traveling myself. I think, frankly, there is a difference between our grads and others. I've had grads from other sems say to me, "I wish I could have gone to WSC..." and the like.

I'm often surprised when I talk to grads of other seminaries, to find out what they did and didn't read or learn or discuss at sem.

I don't know what your experience is, in any great depth, at RTS/J -- though my good friends Lig and Duncan have a long association there, and I did teach a summer course there, so I got a taste of life in Jackson, but I do think there is a real difference between the various sems.

Blessings,

rsc
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
:judge:Like I said, the question should not be "should we require our pastors to have a formal education" - but "where best for them to get that formal education".

:scholar:Can it be done through a virtual university? What seminaries can we trust to do the job? We all hear about the young eager Christian going to seminary just to have all his beliefs torn away by liberal and/or neo-orthodox professors. Picking the wrong place to get a seminary degree is worse than not getting one at all. :amen:


:sing: But there is no doubt in my mind that a formal education is one of the best means of equipping pastors and elders with some of the tools they will need for preaching, teaching.

[Edited on 1-15-2006 by Civbert]
 

BrianBowman

Posting Priviledges Revoked
Fred, Dr. Clark, etc.

I'm 45 years old and am currently learning Biblical Hebrew. I also have the most basic of "basic Greek" backgounds (i.e. some verb morphology, reasonable sight reading of the lower case alphabet, and sight recognition/understanding of probably 50 common words). Of course I desire to substantially bolster my Biblical Greek backround as well. My end goal is practical fluency in both Hebrew and Greek to the point where I can read the original texts mostly unaided. Because I'm visually impaired, I do require software to do this, in order to increase the font size adequately.

God williing, my plan is to continue being occupied as a professional software developer until some time in my middle-to-late 50's and study the Biblical languages, Historical Theology, Church History, etc. "on the side" (I'm currently doing about 10 hours per week of this). Some of this study may include distance Ed. courses.

Is there any age limit on entrance to WTS CA or RTS?

[Edited on 1-22-2006 by BrianBowman]
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Civbert
:judge:Like I said, the question should not be "should we require our pastors to have a formal education" - but "where best for them to get that formal education".

:scholar:Can it be done through a virtual university?

No. There is no such thing in reality. There are schools that offer "virtual" degrees, but we've discussed this at some length in this forum. Check the threads.

What seminaries can we trust to do the job?

Confessionally Reformed seminaries.

Call Mark MacVey at 760 480 8474 or write to him at http://www.wscal.edu

and he'll send you a WSC video.

We all hear about the young eager Christian going to seminary just to have all his beliefs torn away by liberal and/or neo-orthodox professors.

Yes, if one attends a non-confessional school, then it's a roll of the dice. There are conservative non-confessional schools and liberal non-confessional schools, but the student is at the mercy of the profs.

There are schools that have aligned themselves with the confessional churches, but where the profs are allowed to take pot shots at the Reformed confessions, so some research and diligence is necessary.

At a genuinely confessional school, the profs are bound by vows to uphold and defend the Word of God as understood in the Reformed confessions.

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by BrianBowman
Fred, Dr. Clark, etc.

I'm 45 years old and am currently learning Biblical Hebrew. I also have the most basic of "basic Greek" backgounds (i.e. some verb morphology, reasonable sight reading of the lower case alphabet, and sight recognition/understanding of probably 50 common words).

Great! We get a few students every year who fit your category. Some come for degrees, some just to become better prepared to serve as ruling elders and others just to learn.

There is no age limit. We've had 70 year old students (former NASA engineer) and many "second career" folks.

Come on down/over.

http://www.wscal.edu

rsc
 

cultureshock

Puritan Board Freshman
I am a first year student at WSC and I agree with Dr. Clark. I chose WSC mainly because I was so impressed with how much emphasis is placed on the importance of the biblical languages in the curriculum. The faculty's enthusiasm for the languages came across strongly in the promotional video and when I first visited the school, and continues to come across in my classes every day.

In fact, I know of some classmates who have failed their language classes, maybe because they haven't done the work, or maybe they just can't do it. These guys are not stupid, but if they don't learn the languages, they're not getting an M.Div. and that's the way it should be. The way I see it, if I can't read the Bible, I don't have any business trying to preach it.

This is the test to discern where our true loyalties lie in practical ministry: Do we really need all of that linguistic understanding just to do ministry in the name of Christ? If Scripture is really central to our conception of ministry, then yes, absolutely!

Although we rightly believe in the perspicuity of Scripture, that doesn't mean that the English translation is ready to yield every exegetical insight that is necessary for sound theology and ecclesiology (thus explaining dspensationalism). Remember that our doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture means that the Bible is sufficiently clear to show anyone what is necessary for salvation, not for everything necessary for the Christian faith (review WCF 1.7). That is why we need seminary training.

If you question the necessity of seminary training because of the apostles' situation, do not forget that the apostles underwent extensive teaching under Jesus both during his earthly ministry and after his resurrection. They were also steeped in the Jewish Scriptures and spoke the Greek that they used to write the New Testament. We, on the other hand, do not have that advantage. An understanding of English and the English Bible is sufficient to point English-speakers to the way of salvation, but not necessarily to tell them how to run a church.

We must not drop the ball in this area. In my experience, this is precisely the standard WSC upholds. They're doing their jobs.

Brian

[Edited on 1-16-2006 by cultureshock]

[Edited on 1-16-2006 by cultureshock]
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Pastors are generalists. They must answer questions in all fields of theology and biblical study and practica. More than that, they must make deductions and applications in difficult circumstances, sometimes with no preparation. There must be a well of training and learning from which to draw. If there is no such well, the answers will likely be just as shallow.

If I may speak frankly, those who don´t want such things, in my experience, are foolish and arrogant and not very useful arrows in the quiver of the Lord. Yes, the Lord can still use donkeys, but why test Providence?

Agree.

The sem is not best place to learn piety that is the function of the local church. Some have argued (e.g., the Bunyan example) that piety is all that really matters. This is a common pietist argument and assumption.

Let me clarify. In no way, in any sense did I mean to imply that "piety is all that matters." I agree that ministers of the Word MUST be thoroughly trained. Preferably, formally trained in a reformed confessional seminary. Where I don't agree is that ALL of the training MUST be done in a B&M setting. I'd grant this would be ideal. In fact, this is exactly why I'll be going to a B&M seminary (RTS Charlotte), God willing this spring. Although, there may be a few classes I will take via online. Classes, I believe, in my humble opinion, I have mastery knowledge of already.

I simply stated shining examples that stand contrary to your position. So, what I meant was that I don't agree with your "hard and fast" rule as others here have said.

Fred, I respectfully disagree. Our students, our graduates learn the languages. Yes, they should know Greek before they come, but it doesn't happen much any more. So we teach them when they come. Then we teach them Hebrew. We don't just teach them how to use Bibleworks, in fact, Dr Estelle discourages BW (et al)!

We require our students to use only their Greek and Hebrew texts for final exams in Systematics classes. It's very hard work, but it happens. I can't speak for other seminaries, but after our students have passed courses with Baugh and Estelle and co, they can read the languages and they do. We insist on it.

We still believe and practice Machen's program for the seminary: "specialists in the Bible."

This sounds ideal to me. As I´d like to major in the original languages and church history. Alas, California is long away from North Carolina.

May I ask a request of the Professors/Pastors/Teachers? It has been mentioned many times the abysmal lack of the original languages of seminary grads. I want to get started right away. Where do I go, what do I buy, to start my learning of Greek and Hebrew BEFORE I enter seminary? What is the best way? Should I read books with study guides or what? I´ve heard of Machen. Are there any links to Intro stuff?

Thanks to all you godly men.

In His service,
Chris
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
This sounds ideal to me. As I´d like to major in the original languages and church history. Alas, California is long away from North Carolina.

Yes, and your point? If you were going to medical school, would you pick one on the basis of proxmity?

What if God calls you to serve in North Africa? I think it's even farther from NC than California!

I understand that seminary students incur debt. I also notice that calling churches usually help students discharge this debt.

It's not a good system. Churches should be supporting their students right through seminary (the RCUS and others do), but in most do not, choosing instead to let the student carry the cost of education on his own shoulders until a call is issued.

...Where do I go, what do I buy, to start my learning of Greek and Hebrew BEFORE I enter seminary? What is the best way? Should I read books with study guides or what? I´ve heard of Machen. Are there any links to Intro stuff?

http://www.wscal.edu/admissions/preparing/index.php

WSC places a high emphasis on primary sources in original languages and strongly believes that knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew is essential for proper biblical exegesis. Although WSC offers Greek and Hebrew courses, preparation in these languages before seminary will be extremely beneficial for you.

We suggest the following resources for Greek and Hebrew: S.M. Baugh, A New Testament Greek Primer and Mark D. Futato, Beginning Biblical Hebrew.

See also:

http://www.wscal.edu/admissions/preparing/readinglist.php

rsc
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Yes, and your point? If you were going to medical school, would you pick one on the basis of proximity?

What if God calls you to serve in North Africa? I think it's even farther from NC than California!

I understand that seminary students incur debt. I also notice that calling churches usually help students discharge this debt.

It's not a good system. Churches should be supporting their students right through seminary (the RCUS and others do), but in most do not, choosing instead to let the student carry the cost of education on his own shoulders until a call is issued.

No, I wouldn't't pick a school based on proximity. But if Georgetown Medical was 15 minutes away (it used to be) I would't relocate to go to Harvard Medical because it may be a little better (if that is indeed the case). Ironically, I have done this very thing already. I have relocated my wife and three kids (VERY soon to be four) from Washington D.C. to Charlotte, NC in the hopes of attending RTS Charlotte. This isn't the only reason, it's just one of the major reasons. This has decimated us financially. The Lord will provide. Yes, I will go where God calls me. I have. And I'll do so again by the Spirit.

It deeply grieves me why so many churches will not provide the resources to train men for the ministry. I am unaware of a greater need and responsibility in the church today.

WSC places a high emphasis on primary sources in original languages and strongly believes that knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew is essential for proper biblical exegesis. Although WSC offers Greek and Hebrew courses, preparation in these languages before seminary will be extremely beneficial for you.

We suggest the following resources for Greek and Hebrew: S.M. Baugh, A New Testament Greek Primer and Mark D. Futato, Beginning Biblical Hebrew.

Thank you very much, brother. This is fantastic. I will endeavor to set aside some of my previous theological pursuits and start to focus my attention on original language studies before formal education. Please know that your help and guidance is greatly appreciated. More than you know.

In Christ,
Chris
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by mangum
Yes, and your point? If you were going to medical school, would you pick one on the basis of proximity?

What if God calls you to serve in North Africa? I think it's even farther from NC than California!

I understand that seminary students incur debt. I also notice that calling churches usually help students discharge this debt.

It's not a good system. Churches should be supporting their students right through seminary (the RCUS and others do), but in most do not, choosing instead to let the student carry the cost of education on his own shoulders until a call is issued.

No, I wouldn't't pick a school based on proximity. But if Georgetown Medical was 15 minutes away (it used to be) I would't relocate to go to Harvard Medical because it may be a little better (if that is indeed the case). Ironically, I have done this very thing already. I have relocated my wife and three kids (VERY soon to be four) from Washington D.C. to Charlotte, NC in the hopes of attending RTS Charlotte. This isn't the only reason, it's just one of the major reasons. This has decimated us financially. The Lord will provide. Yes, I will go where God calls me. I have. And I'll do so again by the Spirit.

It deeply grieves me why so many churches will not provide the resources to train men for the ministry. I am unaware of a greater need and responsibility in the church today.

WSC places a high emphasis on primary sources in original languages and strongly believes that knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew is essential for proper biblical exegesis. Although WSC offers Greek and Hebrew courses, preparation in these languages before seminary will be extremely beneficial for you.

We suggest the following resources for Greek and Hebrew: S.M. Baugh, A New Testament Greek Primer and Mark D. Futato, Beginning Biblical Hebrew.

Thank you very much, brother. This is fantastic. I will endeavor to set aside some of my previous theological pursuits and start to focus my attention on original language studies before formal education. Please know that your help and guidance is greatly appreciated. More than you know.

In Christ,
Chris

I understand.

RTS/C is an excellent school.

Please greet the brothers for me.

Scott
 

Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Civbert
:sing: But there is no doubt in my mind that a formal education is one of the best means of equipping pastors and elders with some of the tools they will need for preaching, teaching.
[Edited on 1-15-2006 by Civbert]

:ditto: A formal education certainly equipped the Apostle Paul.

R.
 
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