The Seminary Debate
(ogonek) I just read "Are Seminaries Making the Grade?" (September/October).
I wholeheartedly endorse training people already in ministry. But as a Pentecostal, I also believe that the Spirit flows most powerfully through that which has not only been yielded, but prepared. Preparation involves gaining proficiency in biblical languages and mastery of church history. That mastery has the potential under the Spirit's power to prevent us from becoming blind to the true needs of our culture, not merely today, but 40 years down the road. What vision will these graduates have if they have not learned church history?
Preparation is what is needed. Merely talking with experts will no better prepare a person to speak the gospel of truth to a culture of lies than mere recitation of facts, dates and genitive clauses. The fault is ours--not God's, not the seminaries or Bible colleges--if we are too lazy to prepare an altar for the Spirit to fall in fire upon. The Spirit often falls in spite of preparation--but should that be the rule, or the exception?
Steven J. Brooks
St. Paul, Minnesota
(ogonek) C. Peter Wagner is undoubtedly right that "some radical change in the way that individuals are being trained for practical ministry needs to take place." He may even prove right in his experiment with a school that has no academic accreditation, a faculty that has no academic credentials and "education [that] does not require either exams or grades." However, to appropriate academic degrees for such a process is little short of academic fraud.
Exams and grades don't always indicate success in ministry, but they are the only means available to measure academic achievement. If these things are irrelevant, why not just offer the training for its own intrinsic value? Why offer misleading and meaningless titles?
Ideally, more practical training might be integrated into academic courses of study. Or training such as Wagner envisions might be offered to those who have completed basic academic courses. But is the hallmark of Pentecostal and charismatic ministers to be ignorance of biblical languages or the Bible itself?
Ansley Orfila, pastor
Community Christian Church
(ogonek) I could not agree more with pastor Joe Barrie in his letter to the editor, which appeared in the September/October issue. Barrie objected to a two-page advertisement in Ministries Today by a Oneness pastor to evangelize Trinitarians in the peculiar Oneness doctrine. To contend that in order to go to heaven a believer has to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ only and speak in tongues is damnable doctrine and should be vigorously condemned.
Talmadge R. McNabb
city and state withheld