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9708Re: New Member

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  • thebishopsdoom
    Feb 14, 2004
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      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Edgar A. Ibarra
      Jr." <puritanpresbyterian@y...> wrote:

      > At the present there isn't any Covenanter Seminary. But, you
      can
      > read the original writings of the Covenanters, which is in many
      ways
      > of higher quality than what you will learn in any Seminary today,
      by
      > reading the free stuff on www.Covenanter.org and buying books on
      > www.swrb.com.
      If Dan desires fellowship with covenanters, it is true, there is no
      synod apart from the RPCNA, and those of us in this club who regard
      ourselves in association with the older beliefs of the covenanters
      find ourselves in dissent from the RPCNA synod, and thus are a bit
      scattered about, which does complicate things certainly. There are RP
      places of seminary training, but they are affiliated with the
      mainline RP bodies that we believe remain in a state of defection.
      But as to your suggestion about relying on the works mentioned, allow
      me to mention that IMO, this would be inadequate for a seminary
      education, and for many reasons. I will only here mention a few
      points of inadequacy, which I think upon mentioning, will help you to
      understand. This is only my opinion, based on my own training and
      what sort of things were said to be generally expected, I won't say
      all of these are absolutely necessary in some essential way, but it
      is some things perhaps worth considering. Again, just from my
      experience, you may not agree with everything below. This is just me.
      1st. Those sites aren't going to teach you greek or hebrew. While not
      absolutely essential in the sense that a pastor is not made no pastor
      by not knowing the original languages (Knox began his ministry with
      litle knowledge if any of Hebrew to my recollection, for example), it
      is certainly a thing which many churches do require for ordination,
      and is also certainly something profitable that most seminary
      students (in my experience) desire to have anyway. Generally that
      means much more than a semester or two in Machen's introductory
      grammar as well (one often hears of mistakes that first year students
      make because they haven't gotten to understand some of the more
      technical points). If one stops at beginning greek, they might want
      to at least supplement it with something like Burton, Carson, or some
      other book that can be helpful avoiding some errours, and maybe some
      more advanced grammar that can be at least consulted. I don't know
      any Hebrew, so I can't say much on that.
      2nd. You will not get a good OT and NT survey from there. You will
      not be introduced to some general background history to the Bible and
      its times, introductions to how the prophets, for example, fit into
      the chronology of the OT historical books; you will not be
      sufficiently introduced into the customs and manners of the times;
      you will not learn about the intertestamental period; etc. In school
      we had OT survey, NT survey, and then had to take surveys on specifc
      books or sets of books (generally our choice) such as Hebrews,
      certain sets of Pauline epistles, certain OT prophets, etc. At the
      very least, the websites mentioned won't give sufficient
      commentaries. In college, we were told a good rule of thumb was to at
      least have access to one (though better if more) more practical or
      devotional oriented commentary and at least one critical commentary
      for each book of the Bible, and then at least one one volume
      commentary for quicker referencing. This was to help balance out our
      understanding of the text and also keep us from relying too heavily
      on any one author.
      3rd. Speaking as I can only of Bible College, philosophy and
      apologetics were required courses for those of us in the pastoral
      program. We covered the history of western thought, including its
      interaction with and development by Christian thinkers, as well as
      different views of apologetics from rationalism and empiricism to
      presuppositionalism from, philosophical standpoints and also covered
      some introduction to Christain evidences (i.e., the main
      philosophical arguments used for example by Aquinas, some issues
      relative to stuff like the JEDP theory, some archaeological issues,
      etc.).
      4th. It won't cover a few things that my training was very weak on in
      school, but which are often connected with seminary training, and
      that is church history and historical theology. These while not 100%
      essential are very helpful for understanding where we are and how we
      got here. Again, one must be careful in historical theology because
      one can in too casual a manner end up neglecting some important
      issues: for example, a consideration of what was understood of the
      implications of this or that idea or phraseology (i.e., what was
      perceived to be the logical implications of an idea, or how much did
      anyone even attempt to nderstand those implications; when they speak
      of a topic, are they intending to speak exhaustively on it or not,
      and how adequate were they prepared to address it; in particular
      treatments of a topic, were the concerns apologetic, pastoral,
      philosophical, introductory, etc., since the intended audience may
      sculpt in some manner the way they go about explaining themselves;
      etc). But it can be very helpful and is a good supplement to
      systematic theology and can help understand what forces sculpted why
      things were put in a certain way. It can also help in some ways in
      understanding the ideas of other people out there and what thoughts
      they may have.
      5th. It gives an inadequate and incomplete systematic theology. Even
      at a Baptist college we were encouraged to get more than one set of
      systematics. Of course, we were reared there on L.S. Chafer, but
      that's also where I got Berkhof and Strong. Most reformed persons
      even contemplating seminary of course probably have one or two
      systematics anyway (probably Calvin's Institutes and most likely
      either Berkhof or one of the American theologians such as Hodge or
      Dabney).
      6th. I assume Dan's ideas about seminary are somewhat sculpted by
      pastoral issues. That being the case, the website is certainly not
      going to give any introduction to homiletics. He would probably also
      find some helpfulness in some of Jay Adams' books on pastoral
      counseling. And then there are books about the pastorate in general -
      like Baxter's work on the reformed pastor.
      7th. The material will be helpful, but not exhaustive enough, on some
      theological topics such as general eschatology / covenant theology.
      That one sticks most to my head, but I'm sure there would be more.
      8th. Generally we were taught that it is good to have some fairly
      general audience type books on a number of practical subjects that
      are pertinent today. Not just duties of husbands and wives, but such
      things as time management, the modern media and its influence, child
      rearing, premarital counseling, and other things which would be
      pertinent to himself or to his flock.
      8th. This one's related to apologetics, but stuff on answering the
      cultist at your door. Especially mormons and JWs since they are more
      prevalent and the people in your congregation will likely come into
      contact with them.
      9th. Some books on the current state of Christendom today -
      theologically, culturally, etc. since these things will be
      influencing those who come into the church.
      10th. I guess I also forgot when I mentioned Greek and hebrew,
      there's also the matter of hermeneutics. The two are related, but
      certainly can be distinguished.
      Where the resources that you mentioned are helpful (and I'll add
      another - www.truecovenanter.com) is on specific theological issues,
      some presbyterian history, and on some practical issues as well as
      some amount of sermons. There are going to be topics like worship,
      church gov't, or predestination or the concept of covenants where it
      is going to be very helpful. On the other hand, it's not going to
      give you the background to Isaiah's prophecies, it's not going to
      give much detailed info on issues relative to Theology Proper (i.e.,
      matters related to the doctrine of God, essence, attributes, etc.,
      apart from a few issues where it might come up here or there), it
      won't teach you greek or hebrew, etc.

      Some of the points I mentioned above deal certainly with areas that
      are not so essential to the pastorate as to make one a bad pastor if
      they do not have such behind their belt, yet these are the sorts of
      things that were expected requirements even in a dispie fundie
      baptist Bible college, and I suspect that most seminaries would not
      somehow expect less of their students. We were also taught that a
      good pastoral library was usually at least 1,000 books, but that most
      pastors eventually grew larger libraries than this. Keep in mind,
      with electronic texts now, that size a library isn't as hard as it
      once was, but also keep in mind that the texts these men would have
      was certainly not all theology, either, nor is a theological
      education itself sufficient for a pastorate. Exegesis, homiletics,
      hermeneutics, general Bible survey, marriage and family, modern
      issues, time and money management, personal holiness, dealing with
      leadership (and the loneliness and stress of being in leadership),
      cults, and some background in logic and philosophy are also generally
      regarded as critical in a decent seminary education. It takes more
      than a theologian to be a pastor.
      Those attempting to give a do it yourself education can not go wrong
      looking up some of the stuff provided at the websites you mentioned,
      though needing some supplementing in systematics, etc. Those deisring
      more than a theological education will need further supplementing
      beyond that as well.
      Just a few supplemental thoughts from my experience.
      -thebishopsdoom
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