Friday, February 09, 2007

Responses to Questions: Seminaries, Preaching, and Linking

Responses to recent questions (all from Paul Cable):

On preachers not believing the power of the Word

Absolutely, Paul. I think you're right on when you write that preachers don't believe in the power of the Word to change the hearts of men. It is surprising that this is so, because if there is one teaching in the Word of God regarding preaching, it is that the Word of God is incomparably powerful and ideally suited to the transformation of hearts. Think about the Bible's constant message regarding the Word. It is that it is indubitably powerful. Shame on us all for not believing this essential message.

On the quality of American seminaries

When I gave my personal seminary recommendations last week, I unwittingly left out RTS and Covenant. Here, then, are some expanded thoughts on seminaries. When it comes to American seminaries, Master's, RTS, Covenant, Westminster, and Southern all offer, to varying degrees, a Reformed education. RTS, Covenant, Westminster, and Master's are all much smaller than Southern. Why is this important? Because of resources. I think you could go to any of the four just mentioned and get a solid Reformed education, but you'll do so with a much smaller library, higher costs, and more limited campus experience. In addition, with RTS, Covenant, and Westminster, you'll be getting a distinctly Presbyterian education. You have to decide for yourself if that's going to prove helpful. Given that I want to be a Baptist, I thought it made sense to go to a Baptist school. That decision has proven wise, as I now know a bunch of godly and sharp young men who I will, Lord willing, stay connected with for many years to come. Think hard about both colleagues and mentors--who will mentor you? Who will you form friendships with? It's helpful to form your closest friendships and mentoring relationships with those who share your theological commitments. I can see the truth of this statement in my own life.

I guess I would wonder why, if you have a school that offers a generally Reformed perspective like Southern and that is Baptist, you would not go there, particularly when you'll also have cheap tuition, a great library, an extensive campus (nice gym, dorms, etc), and an excellent faculty. Southern's scholars are thinkers and churchmen. Men like Steve Wellum, Tom Schreiner, Al Mohler, Bruce Ware (full disclosure: my father-in-law), Russ Moore, Greg Wills, Tom Nettles, and others are heavy hitters in the evangelical world. These men and others compose the finest Baptist faculty around. Many have seen this. Influential Reformed churches like Bethlehem and Capitol Hill send droves of young men to Southern. There must be 30 or 40 former interns and staff members from CHBC (myself included). Now, do remember that Southern is Southern Baptist, and so that comes with certain traits that reformed previously non-SBC Northerners like myself have gotten used to with time. But if you possess some level of maturity and are able to learn from and worship with those who are not just like you theologically and culturally, then I think the education Southern offers is second to none. For its campus resources, its economic tuition, and its excellent faculty, I recommend it to anyone, and can only pass along that my education has been, with a few exceptions, quite good.

I would not personally recommend Trinity or Gordon-Conwell due to theological shifts among their faculty members (i.e., egalitarianism).

On linking to this blog

Paul, you and anyone else who wants to link to this blog are completely welcome to. No need to ask my permission. Link away, and if you like what you see, tell someone about this humble little blog. It's a ton of fun to get comments from guys like you and to try and think through different issues relevant to Christianity and culture. Thanks to all who make writing on this blog such a fun experience. I do appreciate all who read this. Hope these words were helpful to you, Paul, and others who may be considering Southern and other seminaries.


Blogger Dad said...

One comment regarding the power of the word and "preachers". Often God is not working or is not working fast enough, powerfully enough, in our opinion. If that is the case and people are going to be 'saved' and 'grow' than we have to take things into our own hands, and we do. Along with this is issue is the very real stuggle to let God use his word in his own way and time to save and nurish his people, i.e. be content with God.

There is a lot of pressure put on 'pastors and teachers', etc. to produce sometimes from themselves, their family, staff or church or others.

When pastors get together and ask: How's your church doing? What does one say? What does one feel? If God is not producing in 'your' church as much as he is in another church or area?

Al (not Owen's dad, and not that other "Al">)

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, go SBTS!

11:51 AM  
Blogger justin said...

Just as a frequent reader and first time commenter I was wondering what you have heard or thought of foreign seminaries (Mainly the UK)?

I ask this because I, for a time, had considering going to Moore Theological College in Sydney. I had a personal conversation with the president of Moore, John Woodhouse, at a preaching workshop, and I have grown in my regard for the school. For several reasons, mainly it is financially untenable for me at this time, I will not go to Moore, but to probably one these fine American seminaries.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Paul Cable said...

Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful answers! Unexplainably, I hadn't thought to consider the mentor/colleague aspect of seminary, which you rightly mention being an important aspect of the experience.

My wife and I will actually be visiting Southern this weekend and Presidents' Day, and I'm excited to see the campus and get a feel for things. Hey, if it's good enough for CHBC interns, it must be good enough for me!

Thanks again,

9:45 PM  
Blogger Dad said...


One other thought in regards to your EU ideas and your reasons for recommending SBTS.

It would seem like a young start up college would have all the reasons given against a small(er) school for people to argue against attending it, unless you have a plan to get EU off ground with a great campus, vast library, etc. My point is that you have succesffuly argued against EU in this blog.

Al (Not Owen's Dad and not that other "Al")

3:43 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Hooray for CHBC! They not only send THEIR interns, but they even influence congressional interns who merely attended their church.

SBTS is great, but one note on "relationships"... I think you do have to be a little aggressive to build those. There are enough people that you can sorta fade into the background if you don't pursue relationships.

11:06 PM  

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