Thursday, May 24, 2018

Are Seminaries Worth It?

Seminaries, as with most all parachurch organizations, it seems to me, often represent "Good intentions gone awry. " I'm talking right out of central casting.

There is no biblical call for seminaries--any more than there is a biblical call to create, say, Promise Keepers. Or all-powerful networks like the megelomaniac-led  Sovereign Grace Ministries. Whether or not seminaries are a net positive is quantitatively hard for me to judge. But just the fact that it is hard to be sure speaks volumes.

We can stipulate that these large organizations start with good intentions. But when they succeed, and perhaps because of their success, preservation of the organization takes precedence over any single incident of shepherding. The temptation to sweep dirty laundry under the rug because "we're doing a lot of good" becomes irresistible.

Not to mention egos. Lead a major seminary or network--well that represents a large constituancy of voters. You get invited to the White House. You get treated like royalty at conferences. You get to be in an inner-circle of other elites such as yourself.  An inner-circle that will rally around you and pronounce universal support and forgiveness, at least until the heat reaches the melting point of diamond at which point self-preservation finally kicks in. (See C. J. Mahaney). You get to write books--and if you are a seminary professor then the more controversial they are the more you'll sell and the more you get invited to conferences and the closer you'll inch to the power center. If you really make it, you get to pontificate on politics rather than the gospel. And people will actually care what you, who presumably started your career with the most blessed goal of being a pastor and shepherding a flock,  have to say about presidential politics and current affairs. How cool is that?

Freshly minted 20 year old gazillionare athletes often can't handle the money. Middle aged white men in charge of large parachurch organizations often can't handle the power and prestige, and yet will do almost anything to preserve it. They will metaphorically sell their souls. All for the greater good that they have accomplished. At least that's what they must tell themselves so that they can sleep at night.

I seriously do not think that organizations like the SBC (just to pick on the one that has been in the spotlight lately) and all its tentacles and seminaries are what Jesus had in mind when the disciples were Commissioned Greatly. I could be wrong--but it's my gut instinct.

This is all leading to read it an weep link, about a story of which you are no-doubt familiar.

Paige Patterson and the Rape Victim He Shamed

Hat Tip: Tried With Fire

1 comment:

  1. The "but we're doing a lot of good" sounds more like pragmatism than Jesus. I don't think God is dependent on our compromised systems to build His kingdom, but we fall for it time and time again.