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…
It would seem I have two options for becoming a pastor:
- The Traditional Route: Go to school at St. Catherine’s and finish in 6 more years. It involves taking classes at my current pace. That means a 3-6 hours/week for driving, 6 for class and about 10 for homework. That’s 19-22 hours/week, roughly 35 weeks/year.
- Specific Ministry Plan: I join a startup program that looks to ordain pastors for specific ministries. It’s not the same as a full ordination, but leads to full with additional time on the end. There would be 5 classes/year for 4 years taken online with more flexible hours, plus 4 classes at the St. Louis Seminary in a one-week, intense fashion. Homework and class time should be about the same, but there’s essentially no driving. After those first 4 years, I could continue towards full ordination, which would take another 2 years with a similar schedule. At least, that’s what they are saying now. It could be that by the time I finish the program, its up to 3 years to finish the M.Div. We have no way of knowing for certain now what that time commitment will be or what it will look like.
I was hoping there was still something in the 3-4 year range for full ordination, but I guess not. Now I need to decide if it’s something I want to (and can) pursue and if the church wants to go for it as well.
Last night was spent working on my seminar for St. John’s PTL, now titled “Parenting the Internet Generation” while watching the Chargers-Titans game. During the game, one of my favorite commercials was aired:
Later, I was reading some of Luther’s Works for my Confessions class. I came across this gem:
Nor have we anything in Scripture concerning purgatory. It too was certainly fabricated by goblins.
For some reason, my mind immediately went to the Night Elf Mohawk commercial and decided that if Luther played World of Warcraft, he would be a Night Elf Mohawk and hunt down goblins. Or maybe I’m just a dork. I’m not sure yet.
I started Lutheran Confessions 1 today. I’m not extremely excited about it since my schedule is so crazy, but I love having Dr. Winger as a professor. He’s great for my style of learning and he’s great at keeping my attention. There are few people I could sit and listen to talk for 3 hours, but he’s one of them.
Today we talked about the three confessions of the Christian church: Confession of sins, faith and praise. The first two are fairly well understood by most Christians. We confess our sins to God and are forgiven. We confess our faith in the words of the Apostles’, Nicene and occasionally the Athanasian Creeds. But the confession of praise? The term “confession” is not used with “praise” in modern Christianity often.
Basically, it’s the church’s act of praising God. Dr. Winger made the point that our modern concept of praise has given us a slight misunderstanding of this word. Modern “contemporary” Christian music is sometimes guilty of only praising the attributes of God. God is good, great, awesome, mighty, etc. The biblical concept of praise is more than that however. The Greek term for “confession” is used when God tells of us His deeds and we speak them back to Him. Most of the “praise God” stories in the Bible are retellings of His previous work. The Psalms are full of this type of praise as psalmists declare how God has rescued them from the depths of the grave.
In the last several years, I’ve noticed Christian worship moving away from the “God is great” style towards a deeper, more Biblical one. Music is a tremendous gift to the church, and the resurgence of scriptural lyrics confessing praise to God brings the Scriptures to life in new ways. I’m thankful for those artists who were led down that route for their music.
It’s the end of the semester for me this week at the seminary. Only one of my two classes will have a final (Intro to Theology) because the one class is a year-long class. Now, I understand not giving the test because we haven’t finished the unit yet, but when we finally do finish the unit, we’ll be tested on material that was learned over 3 months prior to the test thanks to the extended winter break. I’m not excited about that.
I also have a paper due this week on the Authority of Scripture. It’s mostly done thanks to a marathon work session this morning and afternoon, but I’m going to give it a day or two to settle before reviewing and tweaking it. The basic points:
- Scripture is authoritative because it comes from God.
- “The Bible is the Word of God” is a true statement. “The Bible contains the Word of God” is a dangerous one. To use the word contains implies that not everything in the Bible is God’s Word. How do we decide what isn’t then? And where do you draw the line? Not good…
- “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?” is a common question people are asking. As a Christian, I can answer, “I can’t, but the Bible can.” The Word is the only standard for telling right from wrong in our messed up world.
I’m looking forward to the break from classes, especially after this busy week that includes the paper, some added homework, a final, preaching on Saturday/Sunday and teaching Sunday School.