One of the dangers of seminary to your spiritual life is that so much emphasis and time is spent on the expansion of your knowledge base. Hidden within the academic environment is the deadly assumption that knowledge is what qualifies you for ministry.
It’s not. What qualifies you for ministry is the life of God in you by virtue of your regeneration. It is the power of the Holy Spirit who has brought you from death to life.
In fact, knowledge can be deadly. The simple Southerners in my home church in Florida cautioned me: “Don’t let seminary ruin you.” I knew what they meant. Stories abounded of young men who went to seminary fired up to change the world for Jesus, and returned cold and lifeless, all their zeal dissolved in the acid of theological debates and parsing of verbs. They got knowledge, and lost life.
I thought they were being paranoid, until I met the guys in my Hebrew class. I’ll tell you that story later.
Knowledge is not life. Just ask Adam and Eve.
Knowledge is learning, facts, being correct. It’s being more correct than the next guy. It’s showing how correct you can be. (You might know folks like this. You might be one.) “Knowledge puffs up.” It leads to pride, and pride is spiritually deadly.
Life is love, relationship, obedience, prayerfulness, reliance on God. Here’s Paul: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)
That’s not to say that knowledge is bad. It’s not bad. Knowledge is a good thing. You should learn. I did. I didn’t even know how to think until I went to seminary.
But be warned: Knowledge is not life. Pursued AS life, knowledge is death.
Knowledge (alone) makes you a Pharisee. Life makes you a Christian. Jesus did not come to make us smart. He came to make us live.
So as you’re studying diligently in seminary, don’t think that Christianity is about being smart. Don’t think that leading God’s people is about being smart. Christian leaders are shepherds, not professors. Knowledge is useful, even necessary. But it is not life.