Monday, January 20, 2014

Professor has its Privileges

Lest anyone is mistaken that I think that the ministry of a pastor is more valuable than a professor, I want to reiterate that a professor has many privileges and ultimately, it is not whether one should be a professor or a pastor but whether one can contribute to the greater cause of God's kingdom according to one's giftings and talents. Everyone needs to stay true to his or her calling, be it in the capacity as pastor or professor. In a previous post I rejoiced on how I felt great satisfaction in giving a lecture on Paul the apostle. Surely, churches need scholars and professors that can read books from various persuasions and schools of thought and then dissect it to its core and gamely deliver the results to the inquirers and theological students. I can't see how without great Professors of Scripture the church could grow and advance seeing that it is under attack from many quarters, from false teachings, heresies, human philosophies and factionalism beside. Hence, Luther, Calvin and Wesley were of the same minds concerning the training of clergy and preachers with first and foremost a proficiency in biblical languages from which all theology is derived since the Holy Scripture is almost entirely written in Hebrew in the OT and wholly in Greek in the NT.
Calvin in particular would emphasize the need for clergy to be grounded in the liberal arts (broadly humanities) augmented with a thorough knowledge of the writings of the Church Fathers and early Church theology. Yet as far as I know, none of the Seminaries in Asia would fit the bill in providing such broad education with an emphasis on biblical studies, both OT and NT. Since OT is divided into three main sections and NT, four divisions, if students are to take one book from each of these divisions, he or she would have to take at least 7 biblical books. Ideally, Deuteronomy (Law), Psalms (Writings), Isaiah/Ezekiel (Prophets), Matthew's or John's Gospel (Gospels), Acts (History), Romans (Paul's letters) and John's Revelation (Apocalypse). Even this list is not ideal since one has to leave out great books like Hebrews, Genesis with the exclusion of minor prophets which are no less insignificant like the book of Zechariah. Since 3-year MDiv programme is a short time, the 7 books I had listed would be the very minimum without which no one can claim that he or she is grounded in Scriptures.

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