Theological Education -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 036:142 (Apr 1879)
Article: Theological Education
Author: Anonymous


Theological Education

No. II.— The Elective System In Theological Seminaries

The elective system is a scheme of studies in which each student chooses the studies he pursues. The system has been adopted, with limitations, by many of the principal colleges of the United States. It has not, however, been introduced into the theological seminaries.

In behalf of the introduction of the elective system into the theological course of study, we shall first suggest a few of the many arguments that might be presented; secondly, attempt to answer the objections urged against the scheme; and thirdly, suggest the conditions of its introduction.

1. 1. Some students need more extensive study than the seminaries can under the present system provide. The large majority of theological students enter the ministry, and throughout their life perform the ordinary duties of clergymen. But every seminary has a few students whom God has by natural endowment or by training designed to occupy a different position in his church. They are peculiarly fitted to become either professors in the theological school and of metaphysics in college, or authors of works upon the relations of theology to the other sciences, or public lecturers upon certain departments of theology. The work to which they are called obviously demands more extensive study than ordinary ministerial work. Opportunities, therefore, for this additional study should be provided. These opportunities are provided by the elective system. This system allows the student to select, and to devote all his powers to, those studies which will prove of the greatest use in the peculiar work to which God calls him.

2. Some students need to dwell longer than others on particular departments. They now have a greater variety than their minds can endure. Their attention is divided among studies which are not fitted to each other with the design of supplying their intellectual needs. In the department of theology of the German university (as in all of its departments) the courses are optional, and are intended to supplement each other. A symmetrical knowledge and training are thus obtained. But by the present system of study in our seminaries the attention of the student is distracted; and those students who need to dwell longer than others on special departments cannot. By the elective system the attention is concentrated upon those studies upon which students should dwell most intensely.

3. Some students need a discipline which others do not in other than theological studies. The students of this class are, to a great extent, those who have failed to receive a college education.1 Every professo...

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