Balancing Academics and Ministry

Recently, our seminary, Southwestern, informed us that they would be reducing the language requirement for the Masters of Divinity program by nine hours, removing the advanced courses.  If I understand correctly, this change applies to all other SBC seminaries as well (though I believe we were the only one who required a third semester in Hebrew).  The reason for this is enrollment:  Apparently, many students were choosing other seminaries over ours because the language requirements were less.  Obviously, generally speaking, the language courses are among the most difficult in seminary, so it is no surprise that some people want to avoid them.

When I first heard this, I was pretty exasperated.  Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I loved writing exegetical papers and parsing Greek and Hebrew words.  It often stunk doing so, and I still do not believe I am anywhere close to having a good grasp of the languages, even though my background in philosophy and writing has allowed me to do well when it comes to semantic categories.  However, I am nonetheless thankful I took those courses, even taking some of the harder teachers, because I learned a lot.  I believe they are the among the most important courses one can take in seminary because they obviously deal with God’s Word in the original languages.  I would also argue that most of your “real” learning does not come in the introductory courses, when you learn to read, parse, and do simple translations.  It comes in your exegetical courses when you learn to make decisions on what kind of perfect this verb is, what kind of classification this article should have, what clause is linked to another, whether that hoti is causal or epexegetical, etc.  THAT is where the meat of exegesis is.  Southwestern does not even have the most stringent language requirements unless your concentration is NT or OT; Dallas Theological Seminary requires one more semester of Greek and Hebrew than we do.  I know for a fact that most of our professors (language ones, anyway) don’t like this at all, but it’s not their call.   Thus, I was honestly contemptuous at first at the change, feeling we are trying to cater to redneck bums who are just trying to get a degree as a rite of passage in ministry rather than honestly coming to learn.  If they want the easy way out, fine; get lost and go to another seminary and don’t drag our standards down.  Not every Christian who serves needs to learn Greek or Hebrew or even go to seminary, so either find another or just don’t go at all.

With some time to think and with some repentance, I am trying to be more understanding, although I am still in disagreement over the decision.  It’s part of a broader issue that seminaries have to try to balance:  On the one hand, we want to have high academic standards, and our current president has done a lot of work in raising the bar in our theology department.  However, on the other hand, seminary is not just a place for academic types.  It is a place where people who are called by God to enter into the ministry can get training, whether they are good at academics or not.  Southwestern, as should other seminaries, rightly feels like they cannot justify turning people away simply because they are not “intellectuals,” at least for the MDiv program (Th.M and Ph.D are a different story).  Unlike most other graduate schools, seminaries should care more about the heart of the students and how they are called rather than their academic aptitude. Continue reading

Review of Immortals: Because I want to make fun of something

Personally, I typically like depictions of epic fighting with swords, shields, bows and arrows, etc.  I love The Lord of the Rings, I love Gladiator, I was fascinated by 300, and I tolerated things like Troy and The Chronicles of Narnia(love the books but the movies were just okay).  Even a goofy movie like The Clash of the Titans didn’t annoy me too much.  In other words, you have to try really hard to make me dislike a movie that has fantasy/mythical/ancient battles in it, since I am willing to forgive a lot.

One such movie was 10,000 B.C., an astonishingly dumb movie that was presumably written by a drunken six year old.  It is now joined by Immortals, which skillfully takes potentially cool things (Greek mythology and heroic fighting) and turns it into a steaming pile of hippo crap.  Hollywood writers are talented, indeed.

It’s hard to know where to begin, primarily because the movie is just nonsense.  Thus, I’ll just write in bulleted format and list things as they come to mind:

(There will be spoilers.  If you haven’t watched the movie and still want to, don’t read this, but you have been warned about how lame it is.) Continue reading

Offensive “Yo Momma” Theology Jokes: Because I Am Bored

Watching a lot of theological debating is fascinating because it is often done out of malice rather than goodwill.  Thus, to capture the spirit of such debates between pseudo-intellectual seminary students, pastors, and churchgoers, I have come up with some corny “yo momma” jokes to defeat anyone.  As we all know, nothing can stand against the power of “yo momma” insults.  What is that you say?  I’m being insensitive and unnecessarily satirical by posting this?  Yo momma isn’t sensitive to getting full from eating, which is why she won’t stop.  *watches you cower in shame*  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Anyway, here goes:

To a Calvinist:  Yo momma’s so fat Jesus couldn’t bear her burden.  You know, “limited atonement.”

To an Egalitarian:  Yo momma’s so ugly that she is allowed to be yo daddy too.

To a Complementarian:  Yo momma’s so ugly that there was still puke on the floor “because of the angels” even when she wore a veil.

To an Arminian:  Yo momma’s so fat that Jesus had to drop her from his hands.

To a Catholic:  Yo momma’s so dumb she thinks all women from Virginia lay eggs asexually.

To a Baptist:  Yo momma’s so fat that the water becomes immersed in her instead. Continue reading