Frame on Higher Education

I am a strong proponent of theological seminaries. As a graduate of RTS/Orlando (pictured on the left), I have been immensely privileged to sit under godly scholars. In particular, Professor John Frame highly affected my thinking in apologetics and ethics. As a result my understanding of how higher education should be reformed is also framed by John’s thinking. Here is a sample of how he would re-structure seminary education today:

I cannot help but mention my conviction that this problem is partly the result of our present system for training theologians. To qualify for college or seminary positions, a theologian must earn a PhD, ideally from a prestigious liberal university. But at such schools, there is no training in the kind of systematic theology I describe here. Liberal university theologians do not view Scripture as God’s Word, and so they cannot encourage theology as I have defined it, as the application of God’s infallible word. Students are welcome to study historical and contemporary theology, and to relate these to auxiliary disciplines such as philosophy and literary criticism. But they are not taught to seek ways of applying Scripture for the edification of God’s people. Rather, professors encourage the student to be “up-to-date” with current academic discussion and to make “original contributions” to the discussion, out of his autonomous reasoning. So when the theologian finishes his graduate work and moves to a teaching position, even if he is personally evangelical in his convictions, he often writes and teaches as he was encouraged to do in graduate school: academic comparisons and contrasts, minimal interaction with Scripture.

In my judgment, this is entirely inadequate for the needs of the church. It is one source of the doctrinal declension of evangelical churches, colleges, and seminaries in our day. Evangelical denominations and schools need to seek new methods of training people to teach theology, educational models that will force theologian candidates to mine Scripture for edifying content. To do this, they may need to cut themselves off, in some degree, from the present-day academic establishment. And to do that, they may have to cut themselves off from the present-day accreditation system.

—John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, p. 278 n. 6.

 

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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