Since the spring semester started a few days ago, I've been working on reading for school and thinking about the whole seminary thing. I have a bunch of friends who are in seminary now, or who've just finished. I'd say that, overall, most of us have enjoyed the experience (for the most part). I know it's been awesome for me. there are definitely those classes and teachers and subjects and days that just, well, stink, but overall, I'm so glad that this is where I am right now. I love what I'm learning and what God's doing in me through it.
However, I know there are others who are not big fans of seminary. I don't really know why—I haven't really spoken to someone of this persuasion in a while. And I know some people have very valid reasons for feeling this way, so I'm going to address one of them now.
Seminary is great for learning a TON of information, more than you could possibly ever use or retain. Monday, as one of my classmates was telling us about a workshop he'd just finished, he described it as "drinking from a fire hydrant." Pretty accurate, I'd say. And knowledge is definitely a great thing. but I think the danger, and what people see as a problem with seminary, is getting puffed up with a lot of knowledge and yet no real application of it—all talk and no action. Or too much talk at least. Knowing the answers, but now really KNOWING them, you know?
I don't like people like that. problem is, I can be one of them sometimes. And that's why I've been praying that God will not only expand my knowledge during seminary, but really take me deep with Him. One of my professors mentioned that just the other day—that we can know a whole lot, but still be spiritual babies. Probably goes along with the whole "easy to understand, hard to apply" thing of so much of scripture.
But this is the other thought I've had lately: is it ok to not work on gaining knowledge?
No, of course not. So is it ok to gain it only on your own, to make opinions and form doctrine solely based on your own experiences?
Um, again, no. but how often do we do this? In our super individualized society, this is totally becoming common place. We don't need to know what someone else says about scripture, what centuries of history support or what proper interpretation would lead us to believe. No, we just know what we've experienced. That's enough, right?
The way I see it, it's kind of like going in for surgery, meeting the doctor, and asking him about his background. He doesn't tell you where he studied or what field he specializes in—he just says, "well, I've been a human my whole life, and I've been sick before, so I think I can help you out."
But I think we don't realize how often we sound like this. We have no real basis in scripture or doctrine or anything other than our personal experiences from years of being Christians. Now, there is GREAT value to a long and deep walk with Christ, but I guess what I'm saying is, balance it out.
Learn. Grow. Study. AND go deep.
I think they have to go hand in hand. HAVE TO.
You can get a seminary degree and not really know a thing about walking with the Lord.
You can be a Christian who's been through a lot, but maybe still has a messed up perspective on God and theology.
You can probably be somewhere in between.
Or you can go deep and wide. Know all about Him, and let that deepen your knowledge of Him as well. That's my prayer for seminary. That, and for my sanity to stay somewhat intact in the process!