Monday, March 21, 2011


I've been thinking about this post for quite a while now.  I know several folks who have asked about seminary, about when to go, where to go, how to go, etc.  I know people who teach at seminaries now.  And I know people who wish they would've gone or gone to a different seminary.

It's only my opinion, but there is one crucial question you have to ask and answer about seminary:  what is their litmus test?

Every seminary has one.  It can be spoken or unspoken, written or unwritten, explicit or sensed.  One of my friends started his M.A. at RTS but didn't finish.  I asked why and he replied that he was told that he wasn't "reformed enough."  Hello, Litmus Test.  I went to a seminary where the right answer on women in ministry was (and is) that they're perfectly equal and women senior pastors are not only possible but were even encouraged (and at times pushed).  Litmus Test.

So if you're thinking about seminary you need to able to identify the litmus test and determine if you can live with that and its consequences.  I'll give you an example from my own experience.  I was pretty ignorant of the whole litmus test thing going into my seminary schooling.  I knew I needed to go to seminary and I knew I had one in the same town.  2+2=4, right?

I pretty quickly figured out that I was one of the two most conservative people on campus.  I didn't fit theologically because I can't read the New Testament and reach the conclusion that female senior pastors are okay.  I won't do all the argumentation here but will simply say that, while I can't reach the one conclusion in line my seminary's urging, neither do I see the NT making little of women in ministry, classifying them as a second class.

The question I had to come to grips with was whether or not I was okay at being the contrarian in almost every class I took.  I was okay with it, so I stuck it out.

The corollary is whether or not I would be okay with the consequences of having a degree from there.  I was almost struck from the pastoral search process at Heritage Park, where I'm serving now, because of the seminary name next to my M.Div. because they had "heard about" that seminary.  God's obviously bigger than a seminary degree because I'm here.

So if you're thinking about seminary, just remember the litmus test.  There are other important questions, things to consider, and mindsets to take with you.  But the first question about seminary for me is the litmus test.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...


  1. Well said. So many if our "people in the pews" have no idea that such litmus tests exist .