Liz's question

This question just came in from Liz.

Hi Steve,

I'm reading your book at the moment and I get the impression that you are against theological education. What do you think?

I will say that when I studied Church History at Bible College I found it boring. Thanks for making Church History interesting.


Here's my response.

Hi Liz

Thanks. I've always believed that Church History is not just the history of theology but the story of the people who made history.

I've spent 17yrs in higher education (part time). Economics/Politics, Theology, Doctor of Min. I LOVE study. I enjoyed Greek!

I just don't think we should exclude 99% of the world's population from leadership in the church because they will never complete formal theological education.

What they need is life-long, on-the-job training, which engages head, heart and hands—knowledge, character and skills.

I also think theological education is a socialization process that creates a professional clergy and undermines the rapid expansion of the church. Movements "democratize" the faith.

With few exceptions theological education is a secularizing force, even for the biblically orthodox.

I like what Roland Allan said, "Most heresies result from the speculations of learned men."

Having said that, we must have teachers in the body of Christ and in every missionary movement that are theologically trained. We need Pauls and Lukes who were both active in evangelism and church planting and at the same time sharp theologically. But most churches in the NT were not planted by our equivalent of "ordained" clergy.

I think it's reasonable to assume that after Peter left Cornelius (Acts 10), that it was the new believer, Cornelius, who became the "pastor" of the new church that met in his home. At that stage Peter didn't even have a copy of the New Testament to leave behind.

I'm trying to have it both ways. But in the West, the pendulum needs to swing away from formal theological training as THE road to leadership. The mandate is clear: we are to make disciples of Jesus and teach them to obey what he commanded. Movements take both knowledge and obedience seriously.

Thanks for the question. I might turn it into a blog post. . .