Reformed Quarterly Volume 10, Issue 1
I have been swamped with copies of the December, 1990, Atlantic Monthly, with notes attached directing my attention to one article from that issue, “The Hands That Would Shape Our Souls.” It is a searching analysis of contemporary theological education which asks, “Are today’s seminarians an indicator species — endangered, fragile, sterile — signaling the final and decisive end of religion in America as a personal and public force?”
Paul Wilkes, the author of that article, says, “Most of those who teach in seminaries grant that the discipline of theology in America is currently in disarray and that seminary education is trying to find itself.”
Although that may characterize seminaries of the mainline denominations, dominated by liberal theology, it does not fit most evangelical seminaries, like RTS. With a clear sense of mission, based on the Scriptures and the exclusivity of the Gospel, RTS and seminaries like it are healthy, attracting good students and preparing them for significant spiritual ministries.
Meanwhile, seminaries that have abandoned the authority of the Bible and the clarity of the Gospel are floundering, as can be observed from Wilkes’ comments. He notes students who are in seminary “not always because they have found God, but because they have decided to search for Him” or “a lesbian who is at seminary with her lover because she wants it to be a ‘couples experience.'” While these may be unusual examples, they are an index to the decided change on many such campuses. With the abandonment of historic Christian doctrine and purpose have come denominational membership losses and eclipse of influence. That should be no surprise either.
Wilkes is correct when he warns, “If they are to succeed, this generation of seminarians must, of course, be educationally and spiritually sound.” The task of preparing leaders for the church must be taken seriously on both counts. Nothing less will suffice if we expect God’s blessings on our endeavors. That is why we are committed to academic excellence, based on the inerrant Bible, in a context of spiritual nurture and example to assure preparation for effective ministry to a hurting, searching world. We want our alumni to reach people with the Gospel and help them mature spiritually, developing healthy, growing churches.
So as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we see as clearly as at the beginning the need for our existence and find continued justification for our ministry in the work of our graduates. Dependent on the Lord for direction and provision, we look forward to the next 25 years of training leaders for the church, leaders who will be used of God to make a difference in shaping souls for eternity.