Why Pastors Need a Seminary Education – Part 5

The Old-Fashioned Way

WSC is old-fashioned in other ways as well. Unlike many seminaries, we still require students to learn to read God's Word in the original languages. This was the vision of our founder, J. Gresham Machen, that Westminster would produce men who are experts in the Bible. For this reason, students spend much of their first year learning Greek and Hebrew. They're expected to attend their other classes in Systematic, Practical, and Historical Theology with their Greek and Hebrew Bibles open as well. They also attend more advanced courses in exegesis—that is, the explanation of the biblical text. More than just biblical study, they learn what to do with the Bible in the Church. They learn the biblical theology of the Church, her offices, and the theology and practice of pastoral ministry.

The new technologies cannot and should not replace face-to-face seminary education. What they can do, however, is extend the seminary's ability to help pastors continue their education. Just as lawyers and physicians are required to continue their education, so congregations should give prayerful consideration to sending their pastor(s) back to seminary for a time of study and renewal. This small step might reduce ministerial “burnout” significantly. Having laid the foundation of life-long learning in the classroom, we can help pastors keep up with theological, intellectual, and academic trends via email discussion lists, web pages, interactive seminars, and the like.

Our seminary has been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility. At WSC the faculty takes this responsibility with utmost seriousness. No seminary (or any human institution) is perfect, and we are profoundly aware of this fact. Nevertheless, the Lord has given us this ministry of training men for ministry. Our slogan (as expressed in the Greek text on our school seal) declares, "The whole counsel of God." That is the mark we aim to hit: to train men to preach all of God’s Word. It is no easy task, but it is a joyous one. Please pray for us as we pray for you and the prosperity of Christ’s church.

This is the final post of the series.

First published in Evangelium, Vol. 5, Issue 3.