I recently read an article in the magazine Convivium. In the September 2014 issue, a lawyer, Don Hutchinson, comments about the impact of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it relates to protection of religious rights for Christians here in Canada. In a nutshell, it's not great, but that's not what drew my attention. It was this:
In 2005, Canada was listed for the first time by the Voice of the Martyrs Canada as a nation displaying early signs of a general, government accepted persecution of Christians. The early signs are efforts to i) stereotoype, ii) vilify, and iii) marginalize Christians simply because of their faith. (The two remaining stages are iv) criminalizing the target group and/or its works and v) outright, open persecution.)
This country is indeed becoming increasingly intolerant of religious beliefs. I'm not an expert, so I'm not going make ignorant speculations as to why and how. However we arrived here, Canadian Christians recognize the need for faithful men and women. In short, we need solid, gospel preaching churches. We need people committed to this country, who desire to see the faith grow here.
Quite often, I hear about young Canadian men who seek seminary training in the well-known American seminaries. For some, it's not even a question: the place to go is Southern Seminary; or RTS; or Liberty; or Dallas. As I contemplate seminary in the future, my options are obvious: I stay close to home.
We don't have famous seminaries like Southern or Dallas. There are places to attend like Toronto Baptist Seminary or Tyndale. I don't know how they compare to those American schools, the ones with famous professors and presidents. For some young men, the thought of enjoying a church history class with the entertaining Dr. Trueman might be the thing that attracts him to Westminster.
I have one thing to stay to young men (and women) who leave Canada to attend seminary: please come home. We need you.
We have friends whose kids went to school in the U.S., and they stayed. It's understandable. They develop relationships, build lives, and put down roots. But for the men and women who are going away to be educated with the hopes of entering the ministry, consider coming back to your home and native land. This country needs you, too. As the cultural landscape becomes more and more diverse in Canada, there is a great need everywhere.
In my small town, we have a few gospel preaching churches, but we could use more. Some people drive for an hour to be in a bible-preaching church. If my church was to disappear tomorrow, we would have to do the same. The options aren't huge here in this little town. You might not become a famous preacher here, but you might be the means of bringing the gospel here to someone who needs it.
So, by all means, attend school with famous profs. Bask in their teaching. But, please don't forget that this country needs the gospel, too.