Four years ago today, I graduated seminary with my Master of Divinity degree. I picked a highly academic seminary where I was blessed to study under world class professors. But as I reflect this year, I’m struck by the thought of how an intensive masters degree from seminary still only scratches the surface of studying the Bible.
I feel like the more time that goes by since graduating from seminary, and the more I continue to study the Bible and theology, the more I realize how much I still have to learn. Sure, I have a pretty well rounded knowledge of the subject. But there are plenty of secondary and tertiary theological issues that I haven’t studied as thoroughly as I would like.
Theology and Biblical studies are a vast ocean. Theologians and Biblical scholars write volumes on these subjects. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who was a British preacher in the last century wrote a 14 volume commentary on the Book of Romans. Just that one book of the Bible. It’s over 5,000 pages long. Francis Turretin’s systematic theology is over 2,300 pages. And I could go on and on. The depths of the Bible can never be fully plumbed.
I’ve thought a lot about seminary today. I think it’s valuable for anyone who is serious about pastoral ministry (as well as other areas of ministry). But if I were to speak to someone who’s considering seminary, I would want to encourage them that an MDiv can help give a good theological foundation but that the training and knowledge must be cultivated over a lifetime. I think it’s important to not expect more than what the MDiv can give you. You’ll get some answers, but it’s not the place to get all the answers. You’ll learn skills that will help you in ministry but the MDiv alone won’t make you a good minister. You’ll learn more about the Bible but seminary alone won’t transform you and make you someone who lives Biblically.
Don’t get me wrong. I think seminaries care about their students growing in all of these areas and helping to equip them as much as they possibly can. But it can’t do everything. What it does best is trains people in the languages, theology, and Biblical studies.
Four years after graduation, I feel like I’m much more aware of all of the things I don’t know about theology today than I was when I started. I feel like I’ve learned almost as much in the last four years as I did in my four years of seminary. But it was seminary that helped give the foundation and the Biblical and theological lenses through which I’ve continued to learn.
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