The academy, the seminary, the church, and terminal degrees...
(Tim) Under the post about Wheaton's quarter-billion capital campaign, a reader asked, "(If a man) wants to prepare to be an Old or New Testament Professor... (w)here would you recommend him to study for a Ph.D. and why is this a better place to go than Wheaton?" Taking this as a jumping-off point for some related thoughts, I commented:
The academy has taken over the Reformed church and needs to be pushed back to being a servant, rather than a master. And its service needs to be circumscribed to the end that, once its overreaching has been disciplined, it doesn't have an easy time taking back lost ground.
The first necessary act of discipline is to reclaim for the church the training of shepherds. The academic model has utterly failed. It turns out men whose basic orientation is to avoid conflict. Not to be too hard on seminaries, though; this is only what academic institutions are ordered to produce. We shouldn't be harsh on them for doing what they're made to do.
The academy in its current manifestation is set up to manufacture men committed to being good disciples (of their profs) who will be hired by good colleges and universities...
So, the preparation and training of pastors must be reclaimed by the church where the men will learn their disciplines (which must be learned) in the context of the church and her community life and soul-care. There, elders and pastors will be their teachers and one of the first lessons will be having faith to engage in conflict--what Scripture calls "admonishment," "rebuke," and "silencing" evil men in the congregation's midst who are disrupting entire families.
So where should a man go who wants a Ph.D. in Old or New Testament?
Well first, why does he want a Ph.D.? Is he not qualified to be a pastor? And if not, does he think he is qualified to train pastors? Or rather, maybe he thinks a doctorate will be an asset in getting and keeping a job ministering the Word and the Sacraments?
I'll grant there's a certain type of church that hires men with the terminal degree as their senior pastor, but what sort of man wants to serve that sort of church?
As one respected academic said to me yesterday while discussing this question, such proud men wanting to serve such proud churches should be left to themselves. The man suits the church and the church the man.
It's obvious why a man would want a Ph.D. in math or chemistry or music theory or history or economics or philosophy. He wants to do research or teach in the academy and he needs to demonstrate a working knowledge of his subject, a good work ethic, and the ability to get along with colleagues. But why would a man want a Ph.D. in the Word of God?
As a former elder of mine used to say, "Beats the heck out of me, Mabel."
Oh, alright; if you still wanna know: I'd go to a secular school where men trying to inoculate me against the authority of the Word of God are honest about it. The best terminal training before taking up the role oneself is a fight to the death where a man, against every strategem of Satan, emerges victorious by the power of the Holy Spirit and is able to regale his students with the devious tactics of God's opponents and how God enabled him to vanquish them. I mean, how do you regale your students about how you fought against Doug Moo opposing his work on the Committee for Bible Translation's bowdlerization of the Word of God? Or up there at Regent, the uber-respected member of the Evangelical Theological Society and gender-neutral Bible translator, Gordon Fee (my own New Testament professor).
Put simply, the way to prepare to teach Scripture is to learn the original languages well--very well. So a doctorate in classics would be the thing, as I see it. Then sitting under good preaching for a certain number of years.
Put more simply, I'd never go to Wheaton. Didn't you see my daughter-in-law's comment, that her Bible profs were the worst when it came to promoting feminism at Wheaton? And I've heard this indirectly from others highly--very highly--placed in Wheaton. If you must bypass the pastorate and become only a professor of Bible, and if you must get a doctorate to do so, and if you must get that doctorate in OT or NT instead of classics or history or theology, go overseas to a pagan school where the battle is white hot and the fight will be to the death.
PS: Concerning finances, I wouldn't worry about it. Make fruitful love and maybe the little blessings will seduce you from your madness. Joke.