Tuesday, 3 June 2008

How to waste a theological education

Derek Brown, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (in Louisville, Kentucky, USA), has a great post about "How to waste your theological education". He gives forty-five (count them, forty-five) different ways. Here are some of my favourites:
2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.
4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condesension toward fellow seminary students. Secrectly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.

8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.

9. Give your opinion as often as possible - especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.

17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.

19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.

24. Do other things while in class instead of listening - like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.

26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.

31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.

33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.

34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.

36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans - save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.

41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.

42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.

45. Don’t really try to learn the languages - let Bible Works do all the work for you.

He is thinking about how to waste your education while you are in the middle of it. I'd love to see some ideas about how to waste your education after you've finished.

Here are a few:

1) Forget all about Greek and Hebrew.

2) Never read anything that you disagree with.

3) Never disagree with anything you read.

4) Remember that theology should never get shaped by pastoral experience, keep it safe in the text-books.


John Davies said...

To add to your post-seminary list, how about
5) only go to those conferences that will reinforce your existing outlook and approach to ministry;
6) don’t subscribe to any serious theology or ministry journals – that sort of reading is behind you and now you can concentrate on the latest popular books on how to make your church a success;
7) never ring your seminary lecturers with an exegetical or theological or pastoral problem – they would be too busy;
8) make extensive use of the internet for sermons – the only reason your lecturers didn’t encourage this is because they were computer illiterate;
9) drop into your sermons any Greek words you remember;
10) encourage in your congregation the attitude that unless they, like you, go to seminary, they can’t really serve the Lord.

Pete Moore said...

If I can add to John Davies' list:
11) always 'do' ministry with little or no theological reflection.
12) in your sabbaticals (aka Long Service Leave) make sure you rest from God (and books about him) rather than wasting the opportunity by resting in him.
13) and another well polished gem: don't take your Long Service Leave at all - let it all just accumulate until you retire.