What are the biggest threats facing Christian seminaries?

Ligon Duncan, who is the chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary in Mississippi, in a video on December 4, 2018.
Ligon Duncan, who is the chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary in Mississippi, in a video on December 4, 2018. | (YouTube/ReformedSeminary)

Presbyterian pastor Ligon Duncan has listed out some of the biggest threats facing Christians seminaries in America, from unbelief to a lack of Biblical understanding in students.

Duncan, who is the chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary in Mississippi, said in a video published on YouTube on Tuesday that one of the main threats facing theological education today is the undergraduate debt crisis.

The scholar warned that the debt is “causing a lot of students to stay away from graduate theological education who would really benefit from it both personally and in their public ministry.

Next, he said that there is a crisis in the devaluation of theological education.

“People don't have a high regard for what graduate theological education can provide people in preparing for the pastoral ministry.”

Duncan also warned of what he called the “perennial challenges of unbelief being propagated in theological institutions.” He said that such unbelief is not “committed to the inerrancy of Scripture” or to “classic Christian Orthodox theology” and the “Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Reformed Theological Seminary chancellor said that the biggest threat to theological education in North America, however, is people who think that “they can be adequately equipped for a lifetime of gospel ministry without really knowing their Bibles, and without really knowing theology.”

“We find today that more seminary students come to do graduate theological education with less knowledge of the Bible and theology than ever before. Fifty years ago, students came, they'd read through the Bible many times, they'd memorized a lot of the Bible, they had done their catechisms, they had been schooled in theology in their home churches.”

Today, however, churches are not “equipping people in the same way with a knowledge of the Bible and a theology,” he argued.

“So if people who know less Bible and less theology think that knowing more Bible, more theology is irrelevant to ministry, we're in trouble,” he warned.

Theology professors have also long been warning that biblical illiteracy in America has reached a "crisis point."

Kenneth Berding, professor of New Testament at Biola's Talbot School of Theology, told The Christian Post back in 2014 that biblical literacy has reached an "all-time low."

"My own experience teaching a class of new college freshman every year for the past 15 years suggests to me that although students 15 years ago knew little about the Bible upon entering my classes, today's students on average know even less about the Bible," Berding said back then.

In an article titled "The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy and What We Can Do About It," the theology professor said that Christians “used to be known as 'people of one book.' They memorized it, meditated on it, talked about it and taught it to others," he wrote.

"We don't do that anymore, and in a very real sense we're starving ourselves to death,” he added.

Watch Duncan talking about the threats to seminaries below:

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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