Responses to Questions: Seminaries, Preaching, and Linking
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.