Fifty Years

To what course work do these fifty-year seminary alums attribute some of their most important preparation for ministry? Read and see (*cough*…Bible… *cough*).

Last night was our annual, commencement-week reception and dinner for the trustees. As usual, we had also invited our “fifty year” alumni: in this case, members of the class of 1960. Part of the program was for two of these “fifty year alums” to speak briefly on the subject of how seminary prepared them for their ministries.

The first talked gratefully about how seminary had not “trained” him to deal with this or that specific pastoral or ecclesiastical emergency, but had rather educated him, so that he could think his way through situations on a solid platform of accurate data and habits of critical thought. The courses he specifically named? Hebrew, and Greek.

The second speaker recalled two professors that, for him, represented the best of the preparation that seminary offered him. The first professor he recalled for having taught him a large number of important facts. A second professor he recalled for having modeled the compassionate application of such facts. Facts without compassion, he had found, were tools without purpose; and compassion without facts, just useless dreaming. The subjects taught by these memorable, representative faculty? Old Testament and New Testament.

From the critical perspective of fifty years of ministry: Hebrew. Greek. Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. New Testament.

I’m not saying. I’m just saying. :^)

[Fifty Years was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/05/14. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

2 Responses

  1. Fifty years ago. That was back in the heyday of seminaries like Garrett and Evangelical, now Garrett-Evangelical.

    Brooke, this is an excellent post. I hope GETS takes it to heart.

  2. I’ve only been ordained 25 years, but I agree with these people.

    Learning to do good exegesis was critical. Being encouraged to read the commentators and to be able to articulate clearly who I agreed with and why, giving evidence from the text rather than from my own biases or my denomination’s doctrines has served me in good stead. Learning to apply my conclusions with compassion was also important, so I’d nominate New Testament (because of the lecturers – Hebrew Bible also had potential but was taught differently) and Pastoral Care (where our first assignment was to look at the pastoral implications of a particular ethical issue).

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