What is the purpose of the Master of Divinity degree today? Dr. Ligon Duncan explains how an MDiv curriculum is designed to form and sanctify students in the Word of God for the work of pastoral ministry.
The purpose of a Master of Divinity degree today is the purpose that it has always had—it’s just more urgent in our day and time. A Master of Divinity degree is designed to ground the student in the Bible, theology, and preparation for ministry. The curriculum of the Master of Divinity degree is designed to make you an expert in the Scriptures and to know how to apply them, to ground you in sound Christian doctrine so that you can teach and edify the people of God as well as speak candidly and carefully to the world around us about Christian truth. And it’s designed to prepare you for all the various aspects of pastoral ministry.
If ministers are going to minister the means of grace, they are also made by the means of grace.Now, really, the Master of Divinity curriculum was designed to be a special kind of sanctification for those who are going to go in pastoral ministry. The means of grace is the way that God has appointed Christians to be built up. But the means of grace is also the way that God has appointed ministers to be built up. If ministers are going to minister the means of grace, they are also made by the means of grace. And so the whole MDiv curriculum is designed to be, in a certain sense, a means of grace, because it’s centered on the Word of God, that prime means of grace. And as it is ministered to us by pastor-theologians, the Holy Spirit takes that truth and forms and molds and shapes our lives so that we know how that truth is to be applied in our own lives, that we may deftly apply it to the lives of others for their benefit.
Really, in the end, what’s a minister for? A minister is to declare his witness to Jesus Christ so that people come to faith in Christ, and is to help Christians live the Christian life better. The MDiv curriculum is designed to teach ministers of the gospel how to do that.