Theological Education -- By: Anonymous
BSac 36:144 (Oct 1879) p. 760
No. IV: —The Multiplication Of Theological Seminaries
While there are several conceivable reasons for increasing the number of our theological institutions, it seems to be clear that they have been multiplied — among Congregationalists, at least — principally from one motive: to increase the number of ministers. Fifty years ago we had three: Andover opened 1808, Bangor, 1817, Yale, 1822; twenty-five years ago two more: East Windsor opened 1834, Oberlin, 1835; ten years ago two more: Chicago opened 1858, Pacific, 1869. Little influence towards this increase from one to seven will be ascribed by any one to serious departures from the faith, rendering it unsafe for the churches to hear the preaching of graduates of existing seminaries; and none at all to the necessity of new ones for securing a higher training than existing ones supplied. Nor has the new idea of a purely scientific, “non-sectarian,” “non-partisan “theology, a theology utterly independent of any evangelical relations and denominational preferences,” treated in no other fashion than as a branch of human knowledge,” lifted out of “the narrowness and lack of culture (deemed) almost inseparable from the seminary system, however worked,”1 been among possible motives. Seminaries were founded, at first, in place of the old training by private pastors, somewhat for sake of breadth and fulness of culture. If not for this, then for no end whatever, save the increase of ministers. These statements are to be modified only so far as to admit that limited variations of doctrinal teaching and of grades of instruction have appeared, and have had a subordinate influence, while this increase of the number has been going on. But these things have never been placed above the great and sore need of supplying our churches and our home and foreign missions with a sufficient number of preachers of the gospel. And they are now more subordinate than ever. For nearly three quarters of a century we have been multiplying schools of the prophets in order to multiply the prophets themselves.
It is pertinent, then, to inquire whether the past and present furnish any light as to the wisdom of this policy for the future. When we know
BSac 36:144 (Oct 1879) p. 761
whether our chief end has been secured, we may properly go on to ask whether other desirable ones can also be by the multiplication of theological seminaries. The natural growth of churches and church-membership through the period referred to would inevitably bring more men into the ministry, unless this growth were simply the sign of spiritual decline. Have there been so many more drawn into the sacred calling as to make the wisdom of multiplying seminaries clear...
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