Do Pastors Have To Have A College Education?

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by OPC'n, Sep 16, 2009.

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  1. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I really believe that they should if at all possible. There's no reason for anyone to not have gone to college here in America. But there are so many nations (persecuted and non-persecuted but without reformed churches) that do not have resources to send men to college and yet they need reformed churches. How do we deal with this? Can there be pastor's who have learned reformed theology from missionaries and be a pastor of a church in that situation?
  2. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    If they fit the qualifications for being an elder, they fit them. If a man is able to teach the Word faithfully, why should I care if he has been to a brick and mortar institution? If the local church was discipling men properly maybe we would need less men with paper to back up their name anyway. :2cents:, there are some serious issues with requiring men to go to college when scripture does not require that of them. We need not add to God's instruction. That is not at all to say that a man should not be educated. A completely uneducated man obviously would not be qualified. If a man is educated in the things necessary for guiding the flock, he has that education whether it is from a seminary, local church, or missionary, right?
  3. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    [ame=]YouTube - Anointing - Leonard Ravenhill[/ame]
  4. Bookmeister

    Bookmeister Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a great point! I am starting my second year of seminary and already thinking of where I want to serve. I should be thinking of where the Lord wants me to serve. I know of many seminary trained men who do not have a call in this country who could be serving the bride of Christ if they looked outside the box they have built for themselves. Thank you for bringing this up even though I do not think this was your main point. I think men who are trained for the ministry and seeking a call should look to the places where there is the greatest need.
  5. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    That's a strange video. :think:
  6. Curt

    Curt Puritan Board Graduate

    Not according to God's Word. But, I do think that if the man has the qualifications of an elder and is called to pastoral ministry, he should seek to have as much preparation as possible. That probably should include college AND seminary these days. But these should not be absolutes.
  7. ewenlin

    ewenlin Puritan Board Junior

    Apt to teach doesn't equate to the necessity of a college degree. Nevertheless having one helps a pastor to become more apt to teach. I don't see a reason why any pastor should put off getting a seminary education (MDiv) if it is within reasonable means for him to do so.

    I'm pretty sure some denominations require some form of formal degree for ordination.

    i think you've already answered your own question. There already are pastors that you speak of.
  8. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Great question Sarah

    In our Church in Holland Pastors make 6 years of Theological Faculty and they start that Faculty with 5 years of Latin and Greek in High School (its called Gymnasium), otherwise they have to attend a pre-year to master these 2 Languages.

    I think to have Pastors with such high qualification is a great privilege to the Church, but it may also hinder some, that God can use, to become somehow helping Pastors.

    For now, Elders without that complete and thorough education, and only in the absence of a Pastor, can read written sermons (written by an ordained Pastor), but they can not preach freely from the Pulpit.

    Of course that comes out of a high regard for Preaching and Teaching God’s Word, as Calvin considered it in fact that God is addressing the Congregation, through His Word proclaimed by the Minister.

    It is important also because it prevents errors or weak sermons that may not feed adequately the Congregation.

    But how far should we stretch Theological learning for a Christian to be an ordained Pastor?

    Could 1 year be enough? Or just 3 as a minimum required?

    Is absolutely necessary the mastering of the original languages of the Bible, not to mention the theological Latin?

    I tend to think that yes, ideally it should be this way.

    But I believe I agree with you in the point you make.

    In the case of great need, of congregations deprived of a Pastor and in need to hear God’s Word being preached, I think the Church should have Elders with some preparation, able to preach God’s Word and to provide Pastoral care to the flock.
  9. ewenlin

    ewenlin Puritan Board Junior

    Wow a gymnasium. :)

    Looks like Holland is stricter on this issue..
  10. dr_parsley

    dr_parsley Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, none of the 100+ pastors I work with here in South Africa have any college education. We're working to give them some theological education. These are by no means "reformed churches", but we pray they may become so. Some of the pastors can't read or sign their name, which is troubling me, and I'm going to offer to pay for their transport to the nearest school that does adult education, but I don't know yet if they will want to (the two I noticed that couldn't sign their names are in their 40s or 50s).

    The usual situation is that someone is made a pastor because he is a natural leader, seems to have a good walk with the Lord and can shout loudly. Only then do they think about what they know and take any opportunities that come their way to increase their education. Sadly in the third world those opportunities are few.
  11. AVT

    AVT Puritan Board Freshman

    It only shows the great need to help and educate pastors all over the world.
    Don't forget ,the rise of Cults is due to the fact that many are willing to teach and serve and yet does not have knowledge of the Word.

    God calls us to handle His Word properly and not twist it.

    Zeal without knowledge is dangerous.:rolleyes:
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    For Presbyterians, there has always been a strong notion that a high amount of education and training and testing is necessary for the high call of church office. This is particularly true of those who would teach God's Word.

    So, in the early 1800's as the American frontier expanded, Presbyterians faced a choice- limit to the slow growth of carefully and thoroughly trained teachers or "open it up" to anyone who wanted "to serve the Lord." The Methodists did the latter, and the "circuit riders" on the frontier produced a lot of converts and much growth. The Presbyterians stayed focused on their original training, education and testing requirements.

    As a consequence, the Arminian-influenced denominations (like Methodists) quickly outgrew Presbyterians (which had been much larger at our country's founding). While Presbyterian influence remains well beyond its numbers, this trend continues to this very day.

    We'd have to say God has used both approaches. There is better doctrine on the presbyterian and reformed side, and there is admonition in Scripture about those who would handle God's Word, they must be careful and qualified. Lots of exceptions, though.
  13. Nathan Riese

    Nathan Riese Puritan Board Freshman

    1 Timothy 2:15 - STUDY to show thyself APPROVED. I am not so sure that Leonard here was preaching on a normative Biblical precept but more on an emotional basis.

    1 Timothy 3:1-7 - If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task...he must not be a recent convert. The two prior passages mentioned pretty much rule out any un-biblically-educated believer.

    Why not be a new convert? Why must one be "approved" through "studying"? Because, pastors are held to a higher standard as leaders, because they "keep watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account" - Hebrews 13:17.

    Is education important? I'd say. I want as much preparation as possible before taking on that high of a responsibility! Now, it may not have to be a Bible college or a seminary education, but it should at least have SOME sort of discipleship from overseers, right? And that studying should lead to the point of one's being approved. I'm sure that there are some men who work to get papers declaring their doctorates, but these men should never have been approved.
  14. rpavich

    rpavich Puritan Board Freshman

    Keep in mind that this is just my "uninformed-from-the-pew" observation...

    Requiring pastors to have an education is a good thing.

    if anyone can get up there and mishandle scripture then where does that leave the flock?

    Usually it shakes out like so:

    Pastor with no formal seminary: "You don't need all that fancy-shmancy greek stuff, you just gotta let the spirit tell you what he wants you to say"

    Pastor with education: "An education is vital to properly preaching the word"

    Having an education just shows that you are willing to put forth the effort and that you care enough to sacrifice to get proper knowledge.

    And remember, these are MY PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS....not dogma :eek:
  15. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not talking about lazy ppl who don't want to go to college or ppl who just want to "do it my way":sing:. I'm talking about the persecuted church who can't go to college or the person who lives in a country where there are no reformed seminaries or even remotely good seminaries.
  16. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    I do not see any Biblical requirement for a formal education at an established institute of higher learning. What you will find is that a man be able to teach and that he study to show himself... rightly diving the Word of Truth.Can someone do that without a college education? Most certainly. I am doing it now (to the best of my ability) by reading as muchh as possible and interacting with other Christians to allow them to disciple me and that I may disciple some.
  17. MMasztal

    MMasztal Puritan Board Sophomore

    A lack of formal theological education is the breeding grounds for heresies and cults. Even in the school where I teach, many students' families attend churches where the pastor is self-taught. Most of these are in the charismatic/pentacostal vein.

    Third millennium Ministries (appears to be loosely affiliated with RTS- Orlando) is working on providing low cost reformed theological training to foreign nationals who might not have the opportunity for a proper education.

    Third Millennium Ministries
  18. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    I've always thought this was an interesting topic. Look at Christ's choice for apostles.

    Does an educated man's knowledge give glory to God or to his seminary?
  19. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    The example of Jesus' disciples often gets thrown into this debate, but I do not think that makes a good point. Sure, many of them came from simple backgrounds, but they spent 3 years learning at the foot of the Master Himself. Imagine if all of our pastors were so well educated.

    Also, he most "influential" (in terms of NT epistles alone) of the Apostles was Paul. He was obviously highly educated. Of course, he did not sit at the foot of Christ as did the others.
  20. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    Look then at the Master himself. Where did he go to school?

    -----Added 9/16/2009 at 10:53:14 EST-----

    Another thing is that unbelievers get into positions of power at colleges and then use their authority to pervert the truth. Notice that none of the men or "women" who come out of Princeton these days believe the bible is true and they go off and teach accordingly using their degree as their autoritative platform.
  21. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    I would say it's necessary to have an "education". It doesn't need to be a college education.
  22. JWJ

    JWJ Puritan Board Freshman

    The knife does cut both ways. One could argue that in some cases formal theological education is the breeding ground for heresies and cults. After all look at the NPP / FV this did originate in "formal theological education."
  23. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    Of course a minister of the word should have a special education suited to that calling, but take a look at how ridiculously high the price of seminary is:eek:

    I have known many great pastors who have not gone through seminary, thankfully in Presbyterian circles we have the session test and determine who takes office, we do not just arbitrarily pick even those who do have degrees.

    I think academic training is very important but not to the point where we are will to be DEBT(Romans:Owe no man ANYTHING) to get it, now with the internet there are many ways to gain knowledge for free and it bugs me more than anything that places like are ignored.

    TNARS(our own Larry Bray is the President) has a GREAT educational program, I would argue in the top 3 seminaries at least, and it is completely free!!! If only Reformed denominations would stop ignoring the serious state of DEBT that seminaries force on a person and pay more attention to Reformed Institutions such as TNARS we would have a more biblical model of men in the church teaching men for the church, using TNARS material, I think it'd be good for all here to read TNARS goals and vision.

    Why should God's called ministers miss out on Reformed education just because of the cost of seminaries these days!!!
  24. rpavich

    rpavich Puritan Board Freshman

    Then I agree...if someone can get the proper knowledge some other way because a seminary type formal education is not available...then I don't see what difference it makes...

    But then my question becomes: what tools will the pastor have, who has no access to things like Greek, hebrew, hermeneutics, systematic theology...etc...

    Where does one get that kind of information in a persecuted 3rd world sort of situation?
  25. TrueConvert

    TrueConvert Puritan Board Freshman

    That's exactly the situation I find myself in. TNARS is not accepting applications currently though . :(
  26. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    Yeah I know, it's sad that more people won't volunteer as mentors, I certainly would. Then I'll already have the education if a calling matches my desire to be a minister of the word. Maybe I should talk to Larry about how to go about that.:think:

    -----Added 9/16/2009 at 11:26:40 EST-----

    I would also like to mention that the seminary system has messed up the process of calling men in the church to preach the word. Everyone talks about being called to be a minister of the word and yet no one is, you know why? It is because now the focus is on seminary students instead of the members of the church, many young men have wasted all of their time and money because they falsely thought they had a calling to the pastorate!

    The church needs to remember to call people in the church instead of waiting until people suggest themselves to the church with their fancy diploma of mashed together wood, the church is not doing it's job of calling, rather the men now call on the church to validate their calling. This is backwards and needs to return!
  27. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    Very interesting thought. I agree.
  28. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Coming from a baptist background most of the preachers I knew were not college trained. Some were good, some not so good. There are a couple of good examples in Bunyan and Spurgeon to argue against making it mandatory to have a college education. Also, since coming over to the Presbyterian side of things and having an opportunity via the internet to hear multitudes of Presbyterian preachers I've noticed what seems to be a 'cookie cutter' approach to preaching. I don't mean this to be derogatory but thier respective seminaries seem to influence even thier manner of delivery.
    Yes a lot of heresy comes from non-seminarians, but so too from seminarians. You would have to go to college to come up with a system like 'federal vision' or a 'new perspective in Paul' and such like.
    With that said I wish there were some way to speed up the process of getting QUALIFIED men to the field to start Presbyterian churches. Not everyone can drop everything and go to college. There are many good elders out there I fear that should be pastoring flocks who are in thier 40's and up who because of thier jobs, chlidren in college and other financial obligations can't just up and walk away to attend seminary.
    Just the musings and :2cents: from the resident redneck Presbyterian.
  29. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    The biggest heresy to come from seminarians is the mainline teaching that the scriptures contain error.

    That is the biggest single problem facing the Church Universal in our day. It came from seminaries. They spread it by using their education as the justification for their ideas.

    I spoke with a PHD pastor from the ELCA in his office. The topic moved to the scriptures. He implied that the teaching of biblical inerrancy was false and spread by the ignorant. I pointed at the open bible on his desk and said "that is the written word of God" he looked me in the eye and flatly said "no it isn't"

    I realized at that moment we belonged to entirely different religions because our authorities were different. He believes in human reason and worldly approval based on institutional authority and right of passage by what is considered scholarly (Romans 1:22).

    I believe in the testimony of the Prophets and Apostles (Ephesians 2:20) as handed to me by the people of God which is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). The truth the Church upholds is the gospel of Christ (1 Timothy 3:16) that is recorded in inspired scripture (2 Peter 1:16-21).
  30. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    One could make the case that the divinity programs of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (once bastions of biblical truth) are far more responsible for propagating heresy and error than all the backwoods preachers combined.

    Secondly, the church, and not the seminary is called the "pillar and ground of the truth." The church must hold a sacred preeminence over all other institutions of human origin, not because she is free from the threat of error, but because God has sworn to build-up, prosper, support, and defend her. Our confidence in the New Testament church is grounded in God's promise, not man's ability.

    So, with regard to the various theological schools offering informal/unaccredited ministerial training (e.g. Whitefield Theological Seminary, Reformed Baptist Seminary) all within the context of the local church and the oversight of these church's elders, I say Amen! After all, any school requiring active membership in a solid church as requisite to attending is a step above even some of our best schools in that regard.

    Bottom line: formal theological training is no guarantee against ministers preaching heresy and error. In fact, a formal education makes the weight of their error that much worse because people trust that one with such a level of education must know what he's talking about, right?
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