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Where the seminary rubber meets the road

I began reading a volume by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It's been a while since I read something by him, but after re-organizing my bookshelves over the weekend, I was able to remind myself which books are read and unread. His book  The All-Sufficient God is a compilation of sermons on Isaiah 40, originally given in 1954. Compared to the regular fare I'm given in seminary it was vastly different. And in a very good way.

Sometimes, seminary students can be a little over the top. We enjoy picking apart arguments, looking at critical discussion and parsing verbs. For the nerdy, it's a little wonderland. But regularly, we must be reminded that the point of a theological education is not the pursuit itself. It's to be better equipped to serve God. And that means being able to take something complicated and make it understandable for a general audience.

My major paper for Synoptic Gospels has three options: first, take an account that is present in all three of the Synoptic Gospels and do a 14 page paper; second, prepare a sermon manuscript and exegetical outline on a passage from one of the gospels; and third, do a children or youth lesson one one of the accounts in one of the gospels. 

Now, that first one sounds like the cadillac of seminary papers. It gives a student a chance to show off her research skills, her ability to hunt down resources that provide compelling commentary. It gives her a chance to show she's a real seminarian. I'm not going to do that option. As fascinating as that sounds, it occurs to me that it is a good thing to be reminded about why I'm doing all of this. Even if I was a man and was going to have the freedom to be in pastoral ministry, it would be good for me to do this. To take something complex and distill it into something that a teen can understand is difficult, but proof that I understand it.

Seminary students need to be pulled back down to the everyday on a regular basis. 

It's so tempting to make ourselves feel smart and above others by spouting off the difficult things we're learning. And I'm sure I'm as annoying as the next student. But what is the purpose of all of this? Even something without saving faith can do that. Even something without saving faith can read Greek and Hebrew and talk about theological matters. As a Christian who teachers, it means so much more than providing intellectual thrills. I need to take what I'm learning and use it to help others understand it. 

I was undecided about my paper until yesterday. As I sat in our classroom full of high school students who are just beginning their lives, I remembered how confusing that time was for me, and because I was not a Christian then, I had nothing to hold on to. These kids have something at their disposal: teachers who care about their spiritual growth. Sure, I'll probably look at some academic commentaries for my preparation, and yes, I'll use the Greek text. But it will be for a purpose: to bring it to a place where a teen will understand and learn. I'll probably use my class as a "test run" before I hand in the paper just to see how they respond to it. It's where the rubber meets the road. Maybe it doesn't seem as elite as the other options, but isn't that why I'm there?

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Reader Comments (1)

I love this post, Kim. I am so glad you are in seminary because of this.

October 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPersis

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