Monday, June 18, 2012

If I Were to Set Up a Seminary . . .

If I were to set up a seminary, this is how I would do it. I would take the reading lists that are required to master in order to pass the comp exams for a Masters or PhD and make each area of study (and the books) into required classes. Only, I would make these classes online, as helps to the required reading for the comps. Then I would give the comp at the end that needed to be passed in order to graduate. Individual topics would be covered once in an elective class that would then be posted online for future reference. These classes would just fill in the gaps or increase one's knowledge of the main course of study. The only thing I would require to be in classroom is language study, as that will not usually get done on one's own.

Usually, in seminary, you take some required courses that are general enough to just introduce you to the subject, and then you take electives to bolster your knowledge in those or other areas. But this creates a major gap in learning so that when you reach your comps, you pretty much have to start over and read a ton of books with new insights, people, and facts that you've barely heard of before. This is not a good system.

Of course, I would not get rid of writing a thesis or dissertation, but I would focus the requirements of the degree, in terms of courses offered, specifically on the comps, since that is the information one tends to most need to get a grasp of his or her area of study. All other academic pursuits can be done later to build on that foundation one acquires in seminary after one graduates, as he can continue to read or learn from the online lectures offered.

I think seminary will one day be completely online, with the exception of the comp exams and thesis/dissertation, and maybe that is the way to deal with costs in such a bad economy (although, again, I don't think doing language and exegesis courses online is a good idea when first learning them--the online language courses might still be worth posting, as they can function as reminder courses). A seminary that requires so much money from its students in trying to help them become ministers/teachers of the people of God ends up being more of a burden than an asset to those students. If courses were all put online, and what was required was knowledge of the subject for comp exams (oral and written), then even one who is poor and without resources would be able to go to seminary and work hard as a steward of God's Word.

Of course, professors can still be made available for questions via email or phone, so they would still be needed not only for this but also for the initial recording of courses as well as any added courses offered.

I'm just trying to figure out a way that one can get the education he needs without incurring the cost of both the education itself and the cost of moving to a different location while he is doing it.

And, if truth be told, I would like any individual's seminary education to be placed under the oversight of his elders in the church. That way, both intellectual and spiritual growth can be fostered one on one, and that individual can then grow to serve his local church or the ministries the local church sees as a best fit for him. Right now, there is little overseeing done by the local church because seminary is done elsewhere. This way, it can be done within the local church rather than being separate from it. This also helps the church in that it provides the needed education to build up leaders, but also does not put a major financial burden upon the church to build classrooms and hire professors, nor does it take the elders away from their preaching and teaching God's Word so that they can teach some critical methodologies course or the history of textual criticism, etc.

Just a thought.

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