Reforming Bible Schools and Seminaries


The Reformation 500 Conference Committee for Education offers these concerns and recommendations for study and discussion:

Tombstones of Seminaries

The need for thoroughly Biblical and practical training for ministers and missionaries is essential.

The Seven Tombstones of Theological Seminaries have been identified as:

  1. Academic intellectual knowledge is given a higher priority than character transformation skills.
  2. The highest priority of lecturers is to impress academic colleagues and not to form, mould and shape students to be men of God and effective pastors.
  3. Excellence is assessed merely on academic terms and learning through field experience is not integrated.
  4. Lecturers have no vision of the Church as God's primary instrument for transformation of society by fulfilling the Great Commission.
  5. Curriculum is determined by secular accreditation agencies.
  6. Forming of character and skills are marginalised in training.
  7. Theological education is being priced out of the market and made unaffordable.

The Downward Spiral of Bad Leadership

1 Timothy 6:3-11 lays out the downward spiral of bad leadership where false doctrines produce envy, strife, suspicion, arrogance, pride, ignorance, an unhealthy interest in controversies and a greed for gain. The consumer minded generation and mad rush for secular accreditation has led to an obsession with accreditation criteria and slavery to government policies.

Man-Centered Theology

While we have phenomenal numerical church growth, there has been a superficial impact of Christianity on our societies in Africa. Most Theological students are not mature believers and most will never be effective pastors. We should not call the trained. We should train the called. Too many enter college not because of any call, or commitment to ministry, but to climb the academic ladder with cheap subsidized education for a Diploma and better career prospects. We must ensure that students are called before accepting them.

The Geneva Academy Model

Following the Reformation, Geneva Academy and the Scottish models of Theological Education were effective partnerships between local sending congregations and Theological Seminaries. The lecturers were full-time pastors who lectured part-time at the Academy. The local churches supported the students who were assigned congregational responsibilities and fully integrated into the practical and spiritual work needing to be done in local congregations and outreaches. This well-rounded in-service training and practical hands-on Theological education produced experienced and dynamic pastors and missionaries, obviously far more effective than our present emphasis on academics alone. The Geneva Academy mentored students, sent them out and assigned them congregational responsibilities and work in hospitals, schools and prisons. Local church support and apprenticeships went together with covenantal accountability. Ministry context was the heartbeat of Theological Training with many reading, writing and preaching assignments.

"Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18

Dr. Peter Hammond
Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
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