Seminary Education: A Philosophical Paradigm Shift In Process -- By: Wayne G. Strickland

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 14:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: Seminary Education: A Philosophical Paradigm Shift In Process
Author: Wayne G. Strickland

Seminary Education: A Philosophical Paradigm Shift In Process*

Wayne G. Strickland

Wayne G. Strickland earned a B.S. degree at the University of Washington and Th.M., Ph.D. degrees at Dallas Theological Seminary. At the time of writing this article, Dr. Strickland was professor of theology at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Maryland. Wayne currently is Academic Dean and Vice President of Multnomah Bible College. One may contact him at [email protected]

* Editor’s note: This article is adapted by permission from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS 32:2 [June 1989]), pages 227-235. To subscribe to JETS, one should contact Dr. James A. Borland, Journal Subscriptions, 200 Russell Woods Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24501-3574. The JETS web address is Introduction

With the rapid increase in seminary enrollment over the past few decades has come a corresponding change in seminary educational philosophy. This is partially validated by the proliferation of other seminary programs in addition to the standard M.Div., Th.M. and Th.D. degree programs such as the various types of M.A. programs and the D.Min. programs.1 Many of the changes in seminary curricula have been long overdue and needed.

The increased attention to Christian education objectives in the pastoral ministry may be cited as a positive example. Yet at the same time a shift has occurred that may have a serious long-range impact on the efficacy of seminary education. Just as in secular education the notion of a classical education has been abandoned, so also I fear the jettisoning of critical ingredients of the classical seminary education is in progress. My purpose in this article is to raise the issue in order to further discussion on this aspect of seminary educational philosophy. Hopefully it will foster communication between all of those investing time and effort in seminary education: administrators, board members/trustees, faculty, and staff alike. I seek to raise a caution flag regarding seminary curricula.

The Shift

Traditionally, the Biblical languages have been a foundational structure in the complete and adequate training of the ministerial student. Every seminarian was expected to include enough Hebrew and Greek in the course of his studies to be able to accurately exegete the Biblical text. Harvard in its early days was exemplary of this classical model with its requirement that the students learn to read the Bible in the originally received languages.2 The philosophy underlying this emphasis was sound. Whereas secular educators had stressed the classics for

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