In 1973 when I became a believer in Jesus, advanced Biblical education was viewed with a sneer. The Holy Spirit was moving freely, and going to seminary was referred to as a doorway to quenching. It seems that forty years has not changed much of that view.
Seminaries are still referred to as cemeteries and those who have pursued advanced degrees are considered tainted and somehow nearly spiritually dead. I understand where some of the views originate, and there are seminaries that seem to produce more agnostics and atheists rather than strong believers. However, is that an indictment against higher education or is it the theology being taught?
I have multiple advanced degrees and my faith has not been ruined. In fact, it has been strengthened. Being blessed to read widely, write extensively and to sit under some of the greatest instructors in God’s Kingdom, has not hurt me. Nor do I believe has the Spirit been quenched.
For those who remain skeptical, let me challenge some of the prejudice against education by considering the authors of the Scripture. What would our Bible look like today if it was written by uneducated men? We know a great many of the authors that God used, and even the ones who are unknown, could probably read and write, though contrary to the norm of their day. Those who dictated their words due to not being able to read or write used trained, educated men to write them down and not fellow illiterates.
Here’s a quick rundown on some of the men God used in Scripture to give us His Holy Word. Think about how many books each one wrote and imagine what the Bible would be like without these educated authors:
- Moses – He was educated in the school of Egypt and trained as a royal student.
- Ezra – a first rate scribe, trained in the Law of God
- Solomon – gifted by God with wisdom and wrote books to be studied
- Daniel – Chosen because of his education by a foreign king to receive even more education
- Many (though not all) of the prophets were highly educated
- Luke – a physician
- Paul – a highly educated Pharisee
While we are not to glory in our flesh or become arrogant over our minds, God uses trained ones. Yes, God can and does use those who are not trained academically, but does that mean we should avoid education?
Some of the greatest minds in Church history were highly educated.
- C. S. Lewis
Paul told his spiritual son Timothy to study to show himself approved (2 Timothy 2:15) so he could rightly handle God’s Word. Why is harmful for those of us that desire to learn to do so? Not everyone needs to become a scholar, but we should be thankful that some have done so.
Throughout the pages of Scripture you will encounter well educated, gifted men and women. These diligent people preserved the Bible, built beautiful items for God’s temple, wrote, preached, served, and made a difference in their world. Their studies and training did not hinder them, but opened broader doors of service for them.
Studying and advanced education will not hurt us as long as we remain true to God’s holy Word. If we reject the Bible as our standard of truth then the issue is not too much education but ignorance. God has given us His Word to train us, renew our minds, and to reveal His will and purposes for us. If we reject the Bible, we are unwise and all the education in the world will not help us.
God’s Word has been preserved and translated into every language by some of the best educated people who ever lived on earth. Where would our English (or any other language) Bibles be if not for educated people? Being smart, trained, educated and gifted is not wrong. The people that God has gifted are a blessing not someone to mock and make fun of due to their education. Would you go to an uneducated doctor for your heath issues? Aren’t you glad that he or she studied advanced topics and became skilled?
The issue is not seminary, but becoming the best trained tool we can for use by the Master. I am grateful for education. I am thankful for wise instructors who love the Lord. God has gifted many people with a strong intellect and I am very thankful that we can learn from them. Solomon asked for wisdom and God was pleased. I pray we would not choose ignorance because of a false prejudice.