Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Things

In my last few post I have been reflecting on theological education. Obviously I think it is valuable, not only because I am involved in it, but because we need well trained people to serve the Lord Jesus in these days. Now I want to balance what I have been writing by saying that theological education does not guarantee success or faithfulness when it comes to Christian ministry. What we need more than anything else are people who are committed to Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit and who are students of the Bible. If these criteria are not met no amount of education will compensate for their absence. Education without a basic commitment to the biblical Christ will only lead people further from what is true and important over time.

I realize that to interpret scripture properly we need some knowledge of the historical background, the nature of the text itself, and the basic structure of the Bible. A good theological education can help the student in all three areas. But the student could also learn these things from prayerfully reading the Bible himself and by comparing scripture with scripture as well as with what other believers have written and the church has taught. In the long run those who are most useful are self-disciplined and diligent. They recognize how little they know and they embrace learning as a life long pursuit. And they do all this relying on the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a spiritual dimension to our studies that must not be missed or downplayed. Ultimately we need God's help if we are to have the grace, strength and wisdom necessary to serve him effectively in this world. If he does not help us our labor is in vain.


David Higginbotham, Kansas City said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments on this subject. It an issue that has been dear to my heart for many years.

One comment I would like to make in this regard is that I believe that ministry preparation should take place in a context of ministry with the proper focus on academics...not the other way around.

Kirk Wellum said...

Agreed David. Thanks for your comment.