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American Evangelicalism, education, Theology

Must Read: D. Jeffrey Bingham’s ‘Less Doctrinaire? Evangelical Theological Education at the Crossroads’

Dr. Bingham in an informal forum with students at Dallas Seminary

My “must read” recommendation of the week is ‘Less Doctrinaire? Evangelical Theological Education at the Crossroads’by Dallas Seminary’s Chair and Professor of Theological Studies, D. Jeffrey Bingham. Dr. Bingham was, hands down, one of my favorite professors at DTS due to his ability to vividly demonstrate the vital relevance of historical theology for present-day ministry, expose faulty assumptions we took for granted, and evaluate the good, the bad, and the ugly of American evangelicalism.

The website Patheos is currently featuring an online symposium on The Future of Seminary Education. In the past few years we have seen the rise of the perspective that traditional seminary education is out-dated and needs to be replaced. While traditional, residency seminary education may not be perfect, Dr. Bingham offers some much-needed balance to the discussion that ought to be considered before we decide that a traditional seminary education ought to become extinct. Consider:

“More and more, young people who desire to pursue vocational ministry are denying the need for a seminary education. Some churches encourage this trend. Though seminaries are not the local church, they are components of the universal Church—communities of spiritually-gifted specialists, men and women gifted by the Spirit to train and spiritually form others, in theory and practice, for ministry. And gatherings of students with such spiritual specialists are superior environments for edification by the Spirit, especially when compared to the student—even the Spirit-indwelt student—in isolation. Seminaries must continue unapologetically to insist, and churches must continue to agree (unless they wish to claim that local churches can offer the same concentration of spiritual specialists), that seminaries, with students in gathered residence, remain the prime environments, the indispensable communities, in which to receive intensive training.”

For more: Less Doctrinaire? Evangelical Theological Education at the Crossroads by D. Jeffrey Bingham

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