The Babylonian captivity of Protestant seminaries...
(Dr. Hollinger) will be joined in ministry by his wife of 36 years, Dr. Mary Ann Hollinger, who is Dean of External Programs and Assistant Professor of Family Studies at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
(Tim) Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is David's and my alma mater and we just received a letter from interim president, Haddon Robinson, announcing "Dr. Dennis P. Hollinger" as the president-elect.
Now, stop for a second and consider how central domestic godliness is in the qualifications listed by the Holy Spirit for church officers. An elder "must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Timothy 3:4, 5). Again, elders are to have "children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion" (Titus 1:6). Do these qualifications apply to seminary presidents?
Well, first we must ask what a seminary president is, precisely? Is he a doctor of the church? An elder? A pastor? A bishop? Or is he simply an academic administrator to whom these biblical qualifications don't apply?
Speaking for myself, I find it inconceivable a man who will lead an institution that exists to train church officers must meet lower qualifications than the men he trains; and specifically, that he need not "manage his own household well, keeping his children under control" or have "children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion?"
But if these biblical criteria apply to seminary presidents, we look in vain for any mention of them in the two and a half pages of Mr. Hollinger's qualifications released by Haddon Robinson. Instead, the pages are filled with qualifications of an entirely worldly nature. Degrees earned, positions held, pages published...
So, what? We blithely assume the biblical but need proof of the worldly criteria? If so, could there not be at least a bone tossed in the direction of the biblical ones? Something like, "The Board of Trustees has examined Mr. Hollinger's Christian character and his household and have found him above reproach according to the criteria mandated by the Holy Spirit for church officers," for instance?
Curiously, although Haddon Robinson's letter tells us Mr. Hollinger has served in the pastorate, we aren't told if Mr. Hollinger has ever been set apart by the laying on of hands and prayer to serve as an officer of the church. There's no indication whether or not he's ever been ordained: His name is listed as "Dr. Dennis P. Hollinger," not "Rev. Dr. Dennis P. Hollinger." Yet when it comes to academic degrees, we have great specificity of letters: Mr. Hollinger has the M.Div., M.Phil., and Ph.D. Does the degree matter but ordination not?
We are also told the academic institutions that have blessed Mr. Hollinger or been blessed by him: Evangelical Theological Seminary, Messiah College, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Alliance Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Drew University, C. S. Lewis Institute, Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, and Oxford University. These schools (and organizations) and the degrees he's earned and positions he's held at them are the heart of Mr. Hollinger's qualifications. (Oh yes, also "65 articles" and "four books.")
Mr. Hollinger is said to be "passionate about quality theological education."
I mean, allowing a dispassionate man to lead an evangelical seminary today would be the height of stupidity. Think of any coach in the NFL and try to imagine him getting the gig if he didn't feel passionately about quality football? It's inconceivable, isn't it?
Honestly, could we pleeeease have a little less talk of our passion? The Christian life isn't really sublimated sexual intimacy.
Finally, the thought that started me writing this blog.
In his letter to GCTS's constituents, this is what Haddon Robinson says about Mr. Hollinger's wife:
He will be joined in ministry by his wife of 36 years, Dr. Mary Ann Hollinger, who is Dean of External Programs and Assistant Professor of Family Studies at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
We've come a long way, haven't we? Ms. Hollinger will be "joining" her husband in "ministry." What ministry, exactly?
Well, the ministry of Christian scholarship, of course. Immediately following the statement about her anticipated "ministry," we read her credentials and past history, and it's all academic.
Long gone are the days when it was understood that godly women lived for serving as the helpmates of their husbands and that this service and obedience was proven by...
Well, why not go to Scripture for the proofs of feminine godliness:
But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1Timothy 2:15)
A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. (1Timothy 5:9,10)
Older women likewise are to be ...teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)
Yes, yes, I know. Proverbs 31 commends women buying and selling land. Yes, yes, I know. Phoebe was a servant of the church. Yes, yes, I know. Deborah was a judge over Israel. And if you must lead a life of rebellion against Scripture while claiming the Name of Jesus Christ, I leave you to your vaunted gifts and new insights without which life would not be worth living.
But for those whose hearts are tender to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God, why can't we see how utterly shallow and drab the life of an academic woman is compared to the godly woman who bears children, brings them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, shows hospitality to strangers, washes the saints' feet, assists those in distress, devotes herself to every good work, loves her husband, loves her children, is sensible, is pure, is subject to her own husband, and works at home?
It is a Scripturally degenerate time and institution which carefully avoids the qualifications that matter to God, while being ever so careful to parade those that matter to woman and man. Yes, yes, I know that Dr. and Ms. Hollinger may well have their home in order and children who believe and are not accused of dissipation and rebellion. And yes, yes, I know Ms. Hollinger may well be a paragon of submission to her husband who has given herself to bearing and raising children, washing the feet of the saints, and to her home. It may well be that, for her, the academy is just a simple side interest that she dabbles in after her long day of domestic servitude, and Haddon Robinson didn't know or care.
Long ago, I learned that what others say about you in promotional material can be far from the truth. Once I was vexed to discover a speaker's blurb listed me as "Dr."
So do I think that it's wrong for women to be academics? No. Last Lord's Day, we bid a very fond farewell to a dearly loved sister who's moved to San Francisco to be a math professor there, and we wished her Godspeed.
Do I think that academic degrees shouldn't be listed in the promo pieces sent out by a seminary as they announce their president-elect? No. Those degrees are indications of discipline and achievement in an area critically important for an academic institution.
Do I believe a mother shouldn't work outside the home; or if so, not at an academic institution? No. My own wife has done it with my blessing.
So what's my point?
That the two and a half pages of text announcing Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's president-elect tell us a sad story about the things that matter today within the institutions that train our church officers, and an even sadder story about the death of female virtue among us.
Some of you will understand why Church of the Good Shepherd and Christ the Word have both established a pastors college to train men for shepherding God's flock in the context of our churches. If you're interested in joining the fifteen men thus far enrolled in these works, send us an e-mail. There is another way to prepare for the ministry of the Word and Sacrament.
But of course, you won't get a degree from an accredited institution of higher education certified by the Association of Theological Schools. For that, you'll have to write Dr. and Ms. Hollinger.