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The New Seminary Curriculum

I had my 2nd interview to determine my “suitability for the Holy Office” today.  I was unsure I wanted to bother with it since I plan to take next year off and possibly not return at all.  Dr. Winger advised me to do it as I don’t really lose anything by doing it while making it easier to return if I do.  Good advice.

Among other things, they asked me what I would add/change to/about the Seminary curriculum if I were able to evaluate the program.  My suggestions:

  • We need less Historical Theology.  Think: what did the church teach/believe in the 4th century?  I get how it can be useful, I just don’t think it’s worth as much as some other courses could be.  People aren’t asking me what Aquinas and Iraeneus believed.
  • We need more exegetical theology.  This is basically courses devoted to books of the Bible or greater themes woven through the Scriptures.  As Lutherans, it is our belief that people are changed through God’s Word.  If we really believe that, let’s spend more time in God’s Word at Sem and allow it to do its job, changing our seminary students into the men God wants them to be.  At least 50% of our instruction should be in this format.
  • Add more intense mentoring/discipleship.  Jesus practiced it, why don’t we?  Find Pastors willing to take 2-3 sem students alongside them and mentor them in what it means to be a pastor.  Get rid of “Academic Advisors” and let the professor/student relationship be more like a mentoring relationship.  Less “formal” academic work is a good thing, not bad.
  • Teach us how to have a strong devotional life.  How to pray regularly.  How to spend time with God.
  • Teach us how to use technology to share the Gospel.  Blogs, RSS, Chat, Web, PowerPoint, Texting, Forums and the like are not going away anytime soon.  How can we use these things?
  • Teach us how to build community in our congregation.  In our ministry teams.  Teach us to love people by investing in their lives.  The Gospel works best in the context of a relationship.

I probably have a lot more to say about this, but this is good for now.  🙂  We’ll see what happens in the coming years as our seminaries start to rethink some of the established patterns.  Hopefully we’ll see something anyway…


  1. Tim

    Glad you took the time to put those initial thoughts “on-paper”. It can form the basis of a critically thought out compendium of suggestions for relevant improvement in the 21st century without losing the basic stuff of Lutheran theology but rather learning to live it, love it and pass it along.

    Again I feel privileged to have been a participant in this part of the examination process. Thank you!

    One final thought. When you have the opportunity to present/discuss these observations/thoughts/recommendations with the “powers that be”, be sure to explain the “technical” terms such as Blogs, RSS and the like in lay terms that the folks can appreciate and understand, with examples of how they are used.

  2. Jason Christ

    Thanks again for coming to the interview! I’ll certainly try to explain the techs as best I can. 🙂

  3. Kathy

    Tim, how about including dictionary definitions of the words you are using – (com·pen·dium – noun – a summary or abstract containing the essential information in a brief form; concise but comprehensive treatise). I’ve never heard that word before! I think you may be the 2nd smartest man I know!

  4. Jaime

    How on earth do you handle all that workplace brilliance? (Must take one to know one.)

  5. Karen Cassidy

    Bravo!!!!! to every comment you madfe. Our seminaries can no longer afford to stay out of touch with the REAL needs of REAL people in the churches that will be served by the ministers they are training.

  6. Joe Z

    Yo dude, you should be teaching at that seminary! Excellent job.

    A virtual compendium of a cornucopia of knowledge you are. And you know an awesome amount about pop culture — Aquinas to American Idol, Iraneus to Office Space. Geez oh man!

    PS – Kathy thanks for the compliment, I am also number 1 in my own book… 😉

  7. Jason Christ

    Thanks for all the comments! Unfortunately, I have very little say about the actual curriculum. Hopefully they’ll seriously consider some of these things as they look at modernizing the school’s approach to ministry. I did hear today that part of the accreditation process they are going through is asking them to lower the number of hours required to get a degree. If they lower it enough, that could be a whole year of schooling for me. We’ll see what happens.

  8. sweetsoup

    Amen to all!!!!!

  9. Rev. Dr. D. Dietz

    I am a 1997 graduate of a seminary and wish to sell my large book collection as a one piece library. There are over 1200 books including commentaries, pastoral care, Christian theology, Christian history, Biblical studies, women studies, ethics, Christian education, liturgy, saints, women’s studies, early Fathers, worship studies and resources, dictionaries, psychology, and sermon writing. I have lists of all the books in bibliography form with notes on the condition, cover, highlighting, and publisher. Most of the books have been used for brief references and are like new. If you are interested I would be glad to send you the lists. The price is $4,000 with the buyer paying shipping costs.

    Thank you for your consideration of my offer.
    Rev. Dr. D. Dietz

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