The Portable Seminary

As a long-time seminary student wannabe, I was very excited to see David Horton’s The Portable Seminary. Check it out here.

The need for a solid biblical education is as important as ever, and maybe more important than it has been for several hundred years. The pluralism of Western culture, along with the syncretism that’s become prevalent in the church, have made solid theological foundations essential for churches and their leaders. What’s difficult, in my opinion, is identifying a ‘good’ seminary. As a graduate-school student, I learned how important it is to take the right professor. In many ways, the courses are less important than the person teaching them, as weird as that sounds.

Do you think a seminary education is relevant and important for church leaders these days?

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4 thoughts on “The Portable Seminary”

  1. This is a tough one for me. I tend to favor the academic, but I’ve been challenged by the lives and ministries of pastors who don’t even have a bachelor’s degree. In fact, some of them outweigh their seminary-trained counterparts in fervor and [ministry] effectiveness by leaps and bounds.

    On one hand, it seems as though many of the greatest teachers and theologians have gone to seminary. It’s one thing to preach with heart — lots of pastors to do that. But it’s quite another to bring together passion and detailed, thorough study. On paper, it makes sense that those with the heart — that intense passion — go to school to gain the tools they need to mine the depths of God’s word and marry their hearts to a cultivated, learned mind.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. I’ve heard so many stories of people with hearts aflame for God and his Kingdom who found seminary to be a giant bucket of water. Some of those would-be pastors not only walked away from ministry but their faith all together. And even some of those who make it to graduation completely abandon passion and rely supremely on intellect.

    One thing that always messes me up is this: Peter was an uneducated fisherman. Most of the disciples were uneducated. And it wasn’t any pastor/professor that made them effective. It was the Holy Spirit and trusting in Jesus.

    But still, I can’t deny that there’s often a clear divide between those who’ve been tested by seminary and those who haven’t.

    So I guess this is my [long] way of saying, seminary is a good idea with the proper accountability and guidance of a mentor – someone who will watch out for you and make sure you don’t sway too far to one side or the other. But it’s good to remember, as history has shown, that seminary education doesn’t presuppose impacting the world for God.

  2. It certainly is important. I realize that most of the disciples were not formally trained in the synagogue. But they did have the greatest teacher anyone could have, and spent a period of three years with him (interesting). It is thought that the apostle Paul, who was formally trained spent three years in Arabia being taught by the Lord (Gal 1:11-18; cf. Acts 9:23). Dr. Paul then set out on his mission to proclaim the “good news” to the Gentile nations. His zealous attitude for the tradition of his fathers was magnified as he proclaimed the gospel of God. He had both the training and the fervor necessary to handle and preach the word correctly.

  3. Keith, do you believe it’s possible for one to have “both the training and the fervor necessary to handle and preach the word correctly” outside of the seminary model?

  4. For purposes of this discussion I am making the assumption that seminary training and bib./theo. college level training are roughly the same thing (Having done both I can say there are more similarities than differences).

    As to your question – although I believe the chances for it happening are slim, I do believe it is possible for the word to be handled properly and taught with fervor outside of the academy. I’ve known a handful of preachers who were masterful pulpiteers despite the lack of formal theological training. They were slaves to self-study. Yet most of them admitted they would have benefited from formal theological education had they had the opportunity.

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