Bursting the Seminary Bubble

• March 14, 2008 • Comments (0)

Bryan Lilly wrote a great post about the pretension and unreality that is bred by the academic environment at seminary. He calls it being in “academic mode.”

Here’s an excerpt:

I can be at the ready to discuss at length why I’m an amillennialist, but I’m afraid to come up to that same person and say “hey, I really need someone to talk to, I was really battling some depression and hopelessness last night, and I had a bunch of thoughts that I know aren’t right, but I couldn’t shake them off.” If I’m not willing to be open and vulnerable, how can I expect others to be? And if I’m feeling this way, I know others are just as afraid. But if we can’t make these connections in a safe place like seminary, how can we make these connections with the people outside our walls?

And this awesome passage:

Friends, your ministry doesn’t start when you get out of seminary. If you can’t allow yourself to be pastoral when you’re training to be pastoral, how can you expect to be pastoral when you are expected to be? When I played soccer, my coach always would tell us that we would play as good in the actual game as how hard we would practice. If you went through the drills with no enthusiasm and intent, you would play the same way.

A couple of thoughts here:

  • We need vulnerable, accountable relationships. But in seminary, just like church, the prevailing tendency is to put on the religious face. Who do you confess your sins to? We need to answer this with a flesh and blood person… someone we can be open with about our own depravity.  Confession to the Lord alone is sufficient for forgiveness, but maybe not for sanctification.
  • This is a call to humility…which cannot be repeated often enough. We need to be done with the pretension that says because I know religious facts I am therefore a good (or even better) person. Knowledge is not life.
  • You’re preparing to be a pastor (or whatever). Forget that. Be a pastor now. Do now what you’re preparing to do. Be now what you’re preparing to be.

Great thoughts, Bryan. Read the whole thing here.

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Category: Spiritual life

About the Author

Mark Warnock is the founder and General Editor of Seminary Survival Guide.com. He serves as Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbia, Illinois, and is a Ph.D student in Christian Philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is working with Ed Eubanks on a book on how to survive seminary.

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