Do you think it is important for a preacher to attend seminary? (A frequent question)
Short answer: no. Long answer: Please keep reading.
In the New Testament, it seems that those who were most educated in the Word were the most effective. Peter had a significant impact, no doubt; but most of us would agree that Paul, trained under Gamaliel with a mastery of the scriptures unrivalled in the first century, had an even broader impact. Yet too often such passages as Acts 4:13 and John 7:15 have been used to excuse lack of theological training and biblical teaching.
What does John 7:15 really say? "The Jews were amazed and asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having studied?' " Please note that the passage does not say Jesus had a poor knowledge of the scriptures. It does not say that he was careless in his use of the Old Testament. What is so striking was that his command of the Word was superb--even though he had not gone through an "accredited" program of the Pharisees. There may be several pathways to biblical competence; the aim is to become not just biblically "literate," but to achieve mastery of the scriptures.
No, a course of theological study at the university level is not for everybody. Theology as taught in the liberal institutions of the land often tends to strip away faith. Not every Bible-believing student survives the experience. The other obvious danger is elitism--those who have special knowledge looking down on those who do not. We must strive for a balance between the practical and the academic, and each preacher-in-training will have different strengths and different needs. Still, biblical training is still a must.
Finally, theologically educated or not, we can all pray for wisdom (James 1:5). For the Lord has ways of fitting a man for his task if he is willing to rely on Him. The man of God breathes with Paul, "I want to know Christ" (Philippians 3:10). As deeply as he longs, "I want to know the Bible," his greater passion is Christ.
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