Over the years I feel as though those who consider seminary fall into two camps, those who wish to be pastors and those who want to serve the church more faithfully. I believe that theological studies expands beyond the scope of these two traditional pathways and hope to convey the deep integration that biblical and theological studies have in the modern context.
Though spirituality is practical and the Church has a place in the society, biblical and theological studies should not be limited to the pastorate or service roles within a religious structure. The more that I read and observe, the more that I recognize the influence of the biblical authors on the individual. This means that the culture is producing people that not only have the moral inclination of biblical precepts but were raised by a culture that grows out of a Judeo-Christian belief system. The study of the Bible is the study of functional society, a look into why you are you, and the philosophical analyses of truth.
Here are the five practical reasons one should go to seminary.
#1 Seminary Will Teach You Your History
Your history is tied to the saints and doctors of the Church. Your history is linked to the reformation. Your history is connected to the Puritans. If you have been in any way influenced by western thought, which if you are reading this, you have, the history of the Church is your history.
#2 Seminary Will Teach the Origin of Belief
Every human has a belief. The structure and formation of orthodox Christian belief has been a carefully orchestrated, combatting a myriad of alternative explanations and ideologues who sought to alter the course of history. Have you ever wondered why the biblical canon came to be and how the formation of a coherent theology persevered throughout the chaos of two-thousand years? Every doctrine that shapes the way our society functions is tied to a history of debate and triumphant, research and criticism, death and life. The way that each individual thinks is related to a deep history of theology, history, and formation of ideas that you will study in seminary.
#3 Seminary Will Expose You to Evil
Christian history is a bloody one. Paul, the New Testament author, presents a theology amidst horrific persecution and suffering and through such circumstances conveyed the realities of Christ. Jesus was a blameless human sacrifice, and Paul is credited with the murder of Stephan in Acts! Biblical studies will force you to deal with ideas that were forged under hardship. If you are going to study the Bible, you will be forced to deal with evil, but such is necessary if you want to engage in the world of ideas with clarity and realism, putting off naivety and embracing the reality of the human experience. I’ve read several ‘pop psychology’ works recently that follow the same self-help formula that we’ve seen for the past forty years. The premise is always that humans are good, that you are good, and that you need to tap into your best self. Biblical studies will dismantle that assumption.
#4 Seminary Will Teach You How To Find Truth
If you are looking at a seminary as opposed to a university, I am assuming that you are longing for truth and want to approach biblical studies from the perspective that “this might actually be true.” You are right. The consideration of the biblical canon as true is a genuinely unbiased appeal for truth. You will find lecture halls across the country that will reject the Bible’s potential, practical relevance, which creates a framework for the student that will ultimately hinder intellectual progress. Seminary, however, will expose you to a world of study you never knew, but above all, it will teach you to consider all potential variables, which I believe will lead you to absolute truth, found in the biblical texts.
#5 Seminary Will Force You to Communicate
I do not think that there is a better form of thinking than in writing. You will be forced to engage multiple perspectives, read tens of thousands of pages, and WRITE 35¬¬–50 papers. In doing this, you will learn how the Bible integrates into the whole of human knowledge, and where future progress is to be made.
Regardless of your background, those who want to engage in the world of ideas should at least consider biblical and theological studies. I meet people every day that range from engineers to MBA’s who are all pursuing a deeper knowledge in and around the biblical text. Seminary will prepare you for far more than you could ever imagine.