Modern Theological Education -- By: John Wright Buckham

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 064:253 (Jan 1907)
Article: Modern Theological Education
Author: John Wright Buckham


Modern Theological Education

Prof. John Wright Buckham

It would be a great discredit to theological education, if, with all other departments of education undergoing revision and reconstruction, it alone were stationary and inflexible. Equally discreditable would it be, if, panic-stricken or infatuated by the clamor for change, our theological seminaries should respond too hastily or indiscriminately to every new interest or demand.

To furnish the best possible education for the type of ministry needed to-day, and to-morrow, is a task of serious magnitude. And it is not only a task, but a problem,—a problem immensely complicated by the fact that the requirements made of the modern minister are so large and so varied. To become all things to all men means much more to-day than it did in the day of the apostle. But if the requirements made of the ministry to-day are varied, equally varied are the avenues of approach to men afforded by all modern disciplines and knowledges. No form of training, no field of knowledge, is useless to a minister of the gospel. More than any other servant of humanity, he can put to fruitful usury any and all wisdom that he can acquire. He is the modern Midas, at whose touch everything turns to gold. All that he learns, all that he experiences, is turned to the riches of his ministry, for nothing human is alien to him. It might be much nearer the true significance of those much-abused words of St. Paul to the Corinthians than that usually attached to them, if they

were interpreted as meaning, ‘I determined to know nothing among you, save in relation to Jesus Christ and him crucified. In this sense the more the minister of the gospel learns, the more he understands, not only of men, but of Christ.

It is this very fact of the extreme value to the ministry of all forms of training and knowledge which broaden contact with truth and with life that constitutes one of the chief difficulties in determining the content of a theological education. There is an embarrassment of riches. The training of ministers is not the training of mere specialists. The ministry cannot be strictly defined in the terms of a specialty. If you say the minister is to be a specialist in preaching, at once you are compelled to admit that for the material of his preaching he is no specialist, but must draw upon the universe. His work is a special work, and for it he must have a special training; but it is a work and a training that reach out toward everything human as well as divine.

To make the wisest possible selection from among the varied subjects and disciplines helpful to a minister, and then to unify and coordinate the chosen subjects to a single end, is a task re...

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