Seminary Graduate Hubris

I am still plodding on in seminary. Lord willing, I will graduate in December of this year. As I’ve worked full-time since my first semester of seminary, I’ve had to take it very slowly. I’ve changed schools and moved my family halfway across the country. In the process, I’ve taken a few semesters off as well. For more than two years I’ve been working very part-time in publishing, as well as my full-time job, and the whole husband/father thing. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is a beautiful feeling.

Thus far, I’ve learned much, and I hope that I will continue to learn. This brings me to the point of this post; many men I know who have gone through seminary believe they have nothing left to learn. This is quite troubling. This trait isn’t something that is relegated to reformed or average evangelical Christians, but in my experience is common among all strains of Christianity. I have seen it in graduates of my own school, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. I’ve also seen it rampant among those who have attended any of the SBC schools. I’ve seen it with DTS grads, and those who went to Liberty Seminary. It is an equal opportunity offender that knows no cultural or theological distinction; men graduate from seminary and for some reason believe that they now know everything that Scripture has to say extensively. They have “done their time” and now have no reason to reevaluate any position they have.

As one who was raised in the cesspool of average American evangelicalism, I can say that when a man actually decides to go to seminary I am greatly encouraged. In the circles I was raised in, seminary was really seen as something that was only done by those who were really dedicated… or those who wanted the approval of men. The most important thing was that a man felt “the call.” What exactly this “call” is, I’m not sure. I assume that when these types of folks speak of it, it’s in the same category as all of the other “movements of the Spirit” which they have felt… again, something I’ve never experienced (and truthfully, neither have they). I’ve actually heard people in this camp say that seminary is going against the will of God, because if one has been called to preach, he should be preaching, not going to school. Ugh…

So again, I’ve never felt the mystical evangelical liver shiver, and I respect any man who decides that he needs to go to seminary. However, when one goes to seminary and believes he has graduated knowing everything, he has missed the whole point of a seminary education. Seminary does give us much information, but it does not give us all information. Seminary equips us to study, it does not equip its graduates with all of the knowledge which has been revealed in Scripture.

I am very pro-seminary. I am pro-seminary to the point that if a man says he is called to ministry, but refuses to go to seminary, I have no reason to believe he has been called. However, seminary graduates need to beware of of theological arrogance. If you have graduated seminary, you have done a good thing, but you still have much to learn. If you graduate seminary and believe you have no room to grow in your understanding of the Triune God, and the revelation he has given us, you are supercilious, haughty, and pompous. A man who graduates seminary should be aware that he will continue to grow in his understanding of God and the Scriptures for the rest of his life and ministry.

We, seminary students and graduates (especially reformed and Presbyterian men), are truly blessed to have had the opportunity to study, and gain such a strong foundation. However, we must be cautious and not fall into the trap of theological hubris. We all have room to continue to grow, and Lord willing, we will all continue to do so.

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