Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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Chapter 23 - Seminaries

Perhaps the institution of seminary can be considered as representative of the damaging confluence of elevating men and organizational systems. An instructor at a seminary was once asked why so many of the students had erratic personalities. The instructor was also asked if the seminary didn’t take any responsibility for the character of its students. The reply was that as long as the course work was completed accurately, a student would graduate. Any responsibility for the student and his character was considered that of the church that he attended.

Organizational systems provide for the division of labor. This may give efficiencies of scale in manufacturing processes, but it harms people by limiting them to a single function. This can provide the welcome opportunity to reject any responsibility for the character of his students by a seminary professor. However, it is difficult not to see this as similar to the washing of Pilate’s hands.

In addition to classes in homiletics (how to sound like a pastor), seminaries provide additional classes to train people to be pastors of a church such as dealing with committees, financial and legal aspects of church assets, and defending denominational doctrines. Since the church is often machine-like, the pastor is to be more of a systems administrator.

The seminary student may be surprised that his instruction is not so much touching on his own growth in faith or truth, but immersion in what other people have determined to be faith and truth. His questions, thoughts, or insights are usually not sought or welcomed. He often quickly learns that to obtain employment in this career field, he will have to be an aggressive denominational franchise holder.

The chief problem with seminaries is that they present information about God as a substitute for actually knowing God. The word ‘theology’ is defined as the study of God. The word itself carries with it an impression that God is a subject to be study and mastered. Theology is usually comprised of sub units such as Christology, Ecclesiology, Angelology, etc.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth. - 1 Corinthians 8:1

The contrast between knowledge and love highlights what is wrong with seminaries. Organizational systems are unable to function in relationships. Christianity was always supposed to be about relationships (us with God and each other). The more a Christian attempts to live the Christian life through systems, the less he is able to actually follow Christ. The Spirit is quenched, relationships become scripted, the flesh is elevated, and character is left free to drift.

One can look at the universities that were originally established to further Christianity that now mostly promote the religion of secularism (the worship of man in general and self in particular).

In contrast, the bible describes learning less from an organizational classroom and more from relationship.

For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches. - 1 Corinthians 4:17

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: - Ephesians 4:20-21

Christian learning is not to be ‘about’ Christ, it is to be of and by Christ. In the book of Romans Paul describes his frustration in trying to keep the law that had been given to the nation of Israel.

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. - Romans 7:15

This frustration is summed up at the end of the chapter right before he describes the solution (life in the Spirit) in chapter eight.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? - Romans 7:24

The solution to the frustration of Paul (and all who attempt to live righteously in the flesh) is not ‘how’ or ‘what’ (which might be addressed in a classroom), but ‘who’ (which can only be accomplished in relationship).

Seminaries, like churches, often fail to help Christians live for Christ because their machine-like character hinders the relationships that are needed to live the Christian life. The influence of the flesh within organizational systems often allows the ideas of men to become woven into and even supercede the instructions of Christ. These ideas are often propagated and institutionalized such that additional confusion regarding Christianity. This reflects a common human failing and was warned against by Jesus.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. - Matthew 15:9

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. - Matthew 16:12

The biblical example of training church leadership is the apprentice model as seen with the relationship between Paul and Timothy. The organizational system gives us classroom instruction and is why most church services are like classroom lectures.


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