To be honest, sometimes I wonder how practical a seminary education is. Will I graduate from seminary and be in the same situation that I was in when I graduated from college? College degrees are a dime a dozen, the same as graduating from high school nowadays. How practical is a Masters of Divinity from a seminary then? It depends on what you want to do when you graduate I guess. I want to be a full-time minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s my ambition. Seminary equips for that “vocation.” (Formal education will never be an adequate ends in itself. It can only feed the intellectually hungry to learn on their own. Formal education equips autodidactics. Seminary equips pneumadidactics and bibliodidactics.) Still though, I can’t help getting the feeling sometimes that what I’m learning is not very practical. Read my September post, A Plea for Multi-Learnedness, for an example: the lemon crisis that changed my life. I guess it really depends though on how you define “practical.”
Anyways, check out what happened today that gives seminary practicality. Sitting in church today for a children’s nativity presentation the young girl with whom I was sitting (aged 9) turns to me and asks, “Drew, do you believe in God?” Not something I was immediately expecting considering the farcical spectacle going on at the front of the church.
“I do, Martha. Do you believe in God?”
“No.” Blank stare.
“Well, why don’t you believe in God?”
“He ain’t done nuffink for me.”
“Are you breathing right now?”
“Not very well. I’ve got a cold at the moment.”
Haha. This was going to be fun. From here, she and I had a lovely conversation about the reliability of Scripture, the historicity of Jesus, the eyewitness accounts of Jesus contained in the Gospels, intelligent design, the teleological and cosmological arguments for God, the transmission of the Bible, the law of non-contradiction and persecution (she had been laughed at by the boys at her school for going to church). Of course, in talking about these things, I didn’t use all this hifalutin language, but these are the very subjects about which we spoke. She was intelligent, asking pointed questions about the the veracity and reliability of Scripture. Nine years-old mind you! I ended by sharing the gospel with her. Martha was for whom the gospel was meant. It’s not meant to be locked up in a bricked building in Wake Forest.
I get frustrated at seminary often. Will I have a “proper” job when I graduate? Is it even worth it? Do I even care about having a “proper” job? (I just want to provide for my wife and future family.) Is the stuff I’m learning practical? Today it was worth it: being able to share the firm foundation that has been laid for our faith in his excellent word that speaks of Jesus coming to rescue us. As Dr. Lanier reminded us in Greek this past summer “Do it for Jesus!” I add, “and do it for Martha.” Study for the nine year old that wonders about God and asks questions that most adults push out of mind. Jesus loves this little child and desires to have a relationship with her. That I can play a part in that gives me tears.