Below is an interview I conducted with respected Bible scholar Craig Blomberg (distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary) concerning any pros and cons of Seminary. My questions are in bold followed by Blomberg’s responses. Enjoy!
What is your response to those who feel that Seminary is in fact the “cemetery” of Christian faith? Do you find there to be merit to such concerns? Is this simply a caricature?
Craig: A lot depends on the seminary. If it gives an unrelenting dose of liberal theology, it could be a cemetery. Even if it is evangelical, if it is all intellectual without focusing on ministry skills and spiritual formation, it could be a cemetery. A good theological training requires focus on head, hands and heart. Then it can be an amazing experience that helps prepare people for ministry and mature Christian living in outstanding ways.
When someone tells you that they feel called to Seminary what words of advice do you offer? Or are there questions you might proceed to ask them?
Craig: I would ask “what are your expectations?” I would want them to be clear that a seminary is a graduate school. If it is worth it’s salt it will be academically rigorous. It will be harder than undergraduate education, or at least involve more time and work per credit hour. I would want to be sure that people understand that seminary is not a two-, three- or four-year “high,” as if it were an almost unending Christmas conference or spiritual retreat for Cru, InterVarsity, FCA or Navigators. Expect to work harder than you have for any other level of education you have experienced, but if you choose a good school, expect it to be worth it and yield rich dividends.
Realizing there are different types of Seminaries that respond to different needs, do you feel there still remain certain “non-negotiables” when it comes to the vision or commitment of a Seminary, or how a Seminary is run?
Craig: Biblical foundations to every discipline should be a non-negotiable, though they aren’t always. Seminary should help you learn further how to reflect biblically and theologically on every area of ministry and life. Of course, there must be practical skills and practical applications, but most of these can be learned on the job if need be. What are almost never taught well in local churches or parachurch organizations are the necessary foundational, critical, philosophical, presuppositional and theoretical questions that must be asked before one moves to pure pragmatism.
What advice do you have for that student in Seminary who is feeling that his or her faith is under assault or is being threatened?
Craig: I would ask why they feel it is under assault. Is it because ideas are being promoted as non-negotiables that are outside the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy? If so, their perception is accurate! Is it because ideas are being presented for discussion that are outside the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy? This need not be an assault; it may be an important challenge to help them assess why they believe what they believe, if they can respond to quite different perspectives in intellectually responsible ways, and if there are certain elements of those ideas which are consistent with genuine Christianity that they can incorporate into their existing belief systems. Or thirdly, is it because ideas are being either presented or promoted that are consistent with historic orthodoxy but just happen to be new to that particular student. In this last case, they should keep a very open mind, never feeling forced to abandon their current beliefs without good reason but always alert to the possibility that there might be better options that they just haven’t previously learned about.
Thank you! We look forward to more of your works and rigorous scholarship!
*Craig Blomberg is the author of numerous books including The Historical Reliability of the New Testament (2016) and Christians in an Age of Wealth (2013) and has contributed to numerous academic journals and articles. A main interest of his is the historical reliability of the Bible.