What makes a seminary liberal?

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xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
Presently, I am enrolled in a Canadian seminary. When I enrolled, I was not saved. That did not happen until after my first year, when we ran out of money and were forced to go back to Korea and teach English to make money in order to finish my MDiv. Since that time I have been living in Korea and have thankfully come across reformed theology. With this view, I have come to see that my seminary is seemingly far from reformed.

1) What makes a seminary liberal? Having been accepted and not saved might be the first sign. (Catholic students, women ordination, contextualization evangelism...etc.)
2) What if you have determined that XYZ is liberal?

I have more questions, but I will wait for some insight on the first two.

In Christ,
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
If they deny the authority of Scripture would be the first and biggest piece of evidence and all doctrinal drift stems from there.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
OK. Could you define that for a simpleton like me(break it down)? I mean, I am sure most "liberal" (whatever they may be) schools would say, "We stand for the authority of scripture!"

It's not that I disagree with what you are saying, but how does that look? When can "we" say, "aahaa, that's a liberal school"?
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
I would say that one of the best ways to expound expound upon what Bob points to would be The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. To the extent that a seminary's official documents and discipline of professors veers from that, they are moving towards liberalism. I would say that confessionally, if a seminary denies any tennant of the classic confessions, especially the Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Chalcedonian Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, along with denying the inerrancy of Scripture (which those creeds imply), they are a liberal seminary. I think that creates a broad enough range to allow for many faithful traditions of Christians through the ages to be included, but sets the mark clearly to expose who is in the "liberal camp".
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
Also, btw, The Dying of the Light by James Tunstead Burtchaell might be an interesting read (from what I can tell, it's now out of print... alas). He tracks the history of the decline of orthodoxy in American Christian higher education. One of his main points is that while universities are established by theologians, they then install non-ordained and non-confessional business-minded administrators to run institutions in the 2nd and 3rd generation that then veer away from orthodoxy to whatever appeals to attracting students. This is more of a historical analysis to your question, but pertinent for understanding why things are the way they are.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Presently, I am enrolled in a Canadian seminary. When I enrolled, I was not saved. That did not happen until after my first year, when we ran out of money and were forced to go back to Korea and teach English to make money in order to finish my MDiv. Since that time I have been living in Korea and have thankfully come across reformed theology. With this view, I have come to see that my seminary is seemingly far from reformed.

1) What makes a seminary liberal? Having been accepted and not saved might be the first sign. (Catholic students, women ordination, contextualization evangelism...etc.)
2) What if you have determined that XYZ is liberal?

I have more questions, but I will wait for some insight on the first two.

In Christ,
Sometimes, actually usually, if it serves a very broad range of denominations. Now seminaries don't require you to be a part of one denomination but where theology is taught cafeteria style. Fuller did this and went downhill, unfortunately, Denver seems to be going similar.

If they have 'criticism' classes.

However, this is really on a seminary by seminary basis, there really is no formula though there there are things to look out for like what you and I have mentioned.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I echo the brethren above. The Doctrine of Scripture.

While it is not the most important doctrine, it is the most important warning sign.

Years ago, in the coal mines of America, prior to the advances of technology and safety devices, many miners died from "bad air" (high concentations of methane or carbon monoxide). They began to carry tiny little canary birds in cages with them down into the hazardous mine shafts. With the fragility of the canary's system, it would quit singing and keel over long before the air was bad enough to kill the miners. It was, if you will, an early warning signal of danger.

In the Protestant seminaries, the first place where bad theology shows itself is in the doctrine of Scripture. My alma mater was begun as a flagship "evangelical" school. Accordingly, it had a high view of the Bible as evidenced by a doctrine of inerrancy codified in the doctrinal statement. Within two decades of its founding, they modified the statement and removed the word inerrancy. When I was there three years later, they taught me:
* the Pentateuch is "mosaic" only in that it is a "mosaic" of bits and pieces cobbled together in the 7th century.
* Jonah is a parable.
* Daniel was written during the 2nd century B.C. (i.e., centuries after the prophet Daniel lived).
* Jesus did not say many of things attributed to him. The Gospels were creative shapings of redactors out to make a theological point.
* John didn't write John; Paul didn't write Ephesians or the Pastoral Epistles; who knows who wrote Revelation(?).
* Paul was "wrong" about women in 1 Timothy due to the hangover of his intolerant days as a pharisee and we ought to get on with it with full egalitarianism.
* God's purpose was "probably" for heterosexual union. However, the church should get with it and accept permanent gay relationships.

After examining more than 400 graduates of this school for ordination, I would add that some ideas have become popular, although not necessarily unanimous among students
* Rob Bell (a grad of my seminary) has denied hell in his justly famous "Love Wins."
* The Matthean magi and the star were non-historical, representing a gentilization of the Lucan shepherd and angel motif.
* Christian exclusivity in salvation is taken to be a scandal in our pluralistic world that should be explained by some scholarly slight-of-hand (e.g., the anonymous Christian?).
* Fascination with Tom Wright's New Perspective on Paul.
* The school openly promotes campus lectures and alumni events feturing the latest leaders of the emergent church movement (e.g., McLaren) as ministry models.
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
I echo the brethren above. The Doctrine of Scripture.

While it is not the most important doctrine, it is the most important warning sign.

Years ago, in the coal mines of America, prior to the advances of technology and safety devices, many miners died from "bad air" (high concentations of methane or carbon monoxide). They began to carry tiny little canary birds in cages with them down into the hazardous mine shafts. With the fragility of the canary's system, it would quit singing and keel over long before the air was bad enough to kill the miners. It was, if you will, an early warning signal of danger.

I now have a mental image of seminary students carrying canaries in cages as they walk back and forth to class. One guy, as a joke, has trained his canary to "faint" and scared his entire class.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I would like to caution that "liberal" is not always the best word. As one of my professors once said, "Everyone is someone else's liberal." Liberal is a word that has lost definite meaning for many and is tossed around a lot.

You should look to go to a seminary that is well respected by the church and denomination you feel led to serve in. If you consider yourself Presbyterian, this means going to an institution run by confessionally reformed men or at least with a strong presence of them in the case of inter-denominational seminaries, as this is what will train you to work within these denominations. For example, while the Master's Seminary would not be considered liberal by most definitions, it would not be helpful to go to a dispensationalist Baptist institution to be trained to ministry in a Presbyterian church.

Sent from my ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T using Tapatalk HD
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
I would like to caution that "liberal" is not always the best word. As one of my professors once said, "Everyone is someone else's liberal." Liberal is a word that has lost definite meaning for many and is tossed around a lot.
That is true but there is something definable as theological liberalism. Theological Liberalism is a reduced view on the authority of scripture and an overexaltation of theories about authorship and intention.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
In common use, "Liberal" has little to do with the "liberal" theology of Schliermacher. When evangelicals use it, they mean anything involving a "low" view of the Bible or that accommodates too much, giving way essential truths to the prevailing Zeitgeist .

For a PB audience it might include a preference for higher critical skeptical approaches to the Bible, a denial of biblical morality (e.g., in the area of human sexuality, or male-female roles), universalism with regard to salvation, or the adoption of current fads like the emergent movement.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
Read J.Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism to gain a pure view of what liberalism truly is and is not!
I am thanking our God for so clearly bringing you to Himself! Rejoice!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think a desire to be loved by the world may be more basic perhaps. Christianity leads to a lack of influence. It leads to a lack of esteem and respect.

In our own day, for instance, there are many worthy struggles. We see others who are struggling against the same foes. We seem to want to preserve the same virtues.

And so we band together with them to accomplish certain aims. But then our doctrinal differences start to rub up against each other. But the cause is so good: we're struggling against flesh and blood after all.

We don't want these small things to divide us in this common struggle against flesh and blood. We'll look backwater. We won't be respected. We'll be viewed as unscientific. Out of step.

The struggle against flesh and blood must go on.

And so we reason to ourselves that these distinctives aren't so important after all. Relevance is what matters in our struggle against flesh and blood. You can't influence when you're hated for the "little things".

I think we forget that our struggle is not against flesh and blood and that's the beginning of the end.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
If they deny the authority of Scripture would be the first and biggest piece of evidence and all doctrinal drift stems from there.

In their FAQ section they say this:

"XYZ" welcomes all students, no matter what their theological background. Whatever your perspective, you will experience respect and have the right to freely express your views in class and assignments without any concern for reprisal. Like all seminaries though, we teach from a particular theological stance. As a seminary we seek to reflect the warm evangelicalism of our supporting constituency. At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say that one of the best ways to expound expound upon what Bob points to would be The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. To the extent that a seminary's official documents and discipline of professors veers from that, they are moving towards liberalism. I would say that confessionally, if a seminary denies any tennant of the classic confessions, especially the Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Chalcedonian Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, along with denying the inerrancy of Scripture (which those creeds imply), they are a liberal seminary. I think that creates a broad enough range to allow for many faithful traditions of Christians through the ages to be included, but sets the mark clearly to expose who is in the "liberal camp".

In their FAQ section it says: "Our faculty members are in substantial agreement with significant expressions of the christian faith found in historic documents such as the Apostles Creed and contemporary documents such as the statement of faith of the World Evangelical Alliance and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
Presently, I am enrolled in a Canadian seminary. When I enrolled, I was not saved. That did not happen until after my first year, when we ran out of money and were forced to go back to Korea and teach English to make money in order to finish my MDiv. Since that time I have been living in Korea and have thankfully come across reformed theology. With this view, I have come to see that my seminary is seemingly far from reformed.

1) What makes a seminary liberal? Having been accepted and not saved might be the first sign. (Catholic students, women ordination, contextualization evangelism...etc.)
2) What if you have determined that XYZ is liberal?

I have more questions, but I will wait for some insight on the first two.

In Christ,
Sometimes, actually usually, if it serves a very broad range of denominations. Now seminaries don't require you to be a part of one denomination but where theology is taught cafeteria style. Fuller did this and went downhill, unfortunately, Denver seems to be going similar.

If they have 'criticism' classes.

However, this is really on a seminary by seminary basis, there really is no formula though there there are things to look out for like what you and I have mentioned.

Again they say this to what you said: ""XYZ" welcomes all students, no matter what their theological background. Whatever your perspective, you will experience respect and have the right to freely express your views in class and assignments without any concern for reprisal."
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
* Fascination with Tom Wright's New Perspective on Paul.
* The school openly promotes campus lectures and alumni events feturing the latest leaders of the emergent church movement (e.g., McLaren) as ministry models.

1) One of the most popular professors of the seminary co-wrote a book with N.T. Wright not too long ago.
2) Brad Braxton was a key note speaker several years ago - who was linked with Al Sharpton in their support of homosexual marriage in Maryland.
3) It has been required of me to read, the likes of Alan Roxburgh (who apparently hangs out with the likes of Brian McLaren (http://vimeo.com/7785467) and Dallas Willard.
4) Richard Foster is big at the school too.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
In common use, "Liberal" has little to do with the "liberal" theology of Schliermacher. When evangelicals use it, they mean anything involving a "low" view of the Bible or that accommodates too much, giving way essential truths to the prevailing Zeitgeist .

For a PB audience it might include a preference for higher critical skeptical approaches to the Bible, a denial of biblical morality (e.g., in the area of human sexuality, or male-female roles), universalism with regard to salvation, or the adoption of current fads like the emergent movement.

I cannot say for certain that any shares the view of "universalism with regard to salvation", but most certainty everything else that you have mentioned is on the table. Actually, in my most recent baptist history class, I was called out by the professor for even suggesting that women should not be ordained.

He said, "For Baptist congregations, we ordain people from our midst in recognition of the individual’s call from God and giftedness for the pastoral role. The induction service to the role of pastor is where the members of the congregation give permission to the pastor to speak into their lives in the sharing of the Scriptures and in seeking to provide a shared vision of what God wants the congregation to do. (While the development of the vision is a group process, it is the pastor who becomes the vision carrier.) This is an awesome responsibility and one is reminded of Jesus words when he came from the Mount of Transfiguration to find the demon possessed boy and the disciples asked why they could not cast out the demon. He replied: “This kind can only come out through much prayer.” There are times when one is in a situation where waiting for God to clear the way for progress and change is all we can do while we love and serve the people.

As pastors, you become the resident Biblical scholar, theologian, counsellor, conflict manager, compassionate listener, and many other things for you are the one who in the midst of life received a call to prepare and spent the time to learn how to do these things. This is a task to be approached with humility and seek to allow the Lord to have His way in our lives and in the church.

There was one matter that raised about the call to pastoral ministry rather than the role of pastor and whether God chooses leaders from only about 40% of believers and limits the other 60% to a different role on the basis of gender. The denomination we serve has been ordaining women since 1954 and had many licentiates doing pastoral ministry throughout the 20th Century. It has continued to be a contentious issue for some, particularly those who look to conservative evangelical leaders in the United States or those who have had Bible College training in Canada. (This is an oversimplification but can be demonstrated in many cases.) When the vote came to the Convention many years ago, a number of people voted on the basis of local church autonomy, ie. each church has the right to call whomever it chooses to be pastor. In the two years I chaired the Examining Council, I prefaced my comments with the statement that the churches, which sent candidates to be examined for ministry, already knew if the candidates were men or women. The task of the examiners was to assess suitability for ministry and not try and tell another Baptist church who they could have as a pastor.

In other years, this course spent time on discussing issues facing the church, one of which was the role of women in ministry. Because this is an online course it is difficult to handle the issue in this format. I can post some of the articles we used if you would like them but I do not see them a critical to how this course develops. “XYZ seminiary” and its faculty clearly supports both women and men in their in preparation for ordained ministry. That has not been an issue for faculty for 40 years.

I realize that for some conservative evangelicals, the touchstone of whether you are truly conservative or a liberal is where you stand on the role of women in ministry. It used to be inspiration of Scripture but evangelicals who believe strongly in inspiration of Scripture hold an inclusive position and for evangelicals the question of canon and transmission of Scripture has become a key issue. The Southern Baptist Convention, among others, has moved to a complementarian position which limits the role of women to teaching other women or children with no place for ordination to pastoral ministry. It has split the body into three sections and some churches just ignore the denomination. In Southern Baptist practice, a person is ordained by a local church and then sent to prepare. The question then becomes one of recognition of one church’s ordination by the larger body or another local church.

Many years ago I resolved the issue for myself by seeking to be consistent in recognizing how the Holy Spirit calls people to ministry. For many years, women on the mission field could do the task but not in North America. Pentecostals from their beginning recognized the role of women and God blessed their ministries. If I was going to be consistent with a narrow approach to Paul’s teaching, I would also have to support slavery for submission of slaves is clearly taught and the institution never condemned. (Baptists from the South wrote some of the best and most Scriptural articles in favour of slavery at the time of the Civil War in the United States.) I would also have to seek out a church that believed in “she shall be saved through child bearing” as Paul says in a broader discussion of women and the fall in I Tim: 2:15. He then discusses the role of widows in Chapter 5 and says in vs. 14 that he thinks that young widows should marry unless a family member cares for them. I have not been to a church that practices that. We can be very selective in our choice of battles.

One of the most useful and well argued works from a Biblical stand point in the one by Gilbert Bilezikan, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family. Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family: Gilbert Bilezikian: 9780801031533: Amazon.com: Books
He also has a brief article at I Believe in Male Headship | Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) . He is a retired professor at Wheaton and one of the founders of Willow Creek. He does not dodge the issues or simply say that was then and this is now but opens the Scriptures to help the reader understand that there are different ways to interpret various passages.

When we moved to “ABC place” 21 years ago, Rev. "lady's name" was the pastor. She was a gifted preacher, used the laity in worship, and did a fine job as pastor. She was the pastor of the largest Baptist church in Canada with a woman senior pastor. It was a privilege to sit under her ministry.

Some times we wrestle with the understanding of authority. With an Episcopal system like Roman Catholicism, the authority flows from Christ to the bishops and then to the clergy serving in the churches who minister to the people. That is not the case for a congregational church government like Baptists. As I explained above, we see Christ as the Head of the Church and authority is mediated though the church to the leadership. For us, all authority is delegated and the local church chooses who serves in the various roles.

>>>>>


A student has written to ask whether I consider myself to be a liberal in the theological spectrum. I will share some of my answer.

I am not sure where you got the Liberal bit. It is the first time I have ever been called that unless you interpret liberal as someone who listens to others and does not put down those with whom they disagree. I would call myself an evangelical of the reformed persuasion but unlike some “Calvinists” I am not mad about it and do not assume I have all the answers. I share the basic beliefs with those some would call fundamentalist but hold them in a Biblical understanding and do not want to make claims that Scripture does not make. The 1905 Statement of Principles held by Atlantic Baptists would come close to my personal understanding with the possible exception of the statement on the Christian Sabbath."
>>>>>




He also said this about another post: "I noticed that for some reason there was a discussion of Arminiatism vs. Calvinism or Free Will vs. Election. I would remind you that what is the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches was in 1905-6 the United Baptist Convention of the Maritime Baptist Churches when Free Christian Baptists (Arminians) and Regular Baptist Churches (Calvinist) realized that there was much more that bound them together than kept them apart. In the spirit of Christian unity they became one fellowship. That is one of the reasons that we are the largest body of Baptists in North America not to have a major split in the 20th Century. Remember that John Smythe, the first English Baptist leader was an Arminian and the Calvinist or Reformed Baptists come along half a generation later. I am not sure God is as interested in whether we are Arminian or Calvinist as He is whether we are faithful disciples who serve Him because we love Him. A further note needs to be made. Both positions assume that people without Christ are lost and without hope unless the Spirit calls them to repentance. Agrippa’s response to Paul in Acts shows that “almost a Christian” does not make one a believer. No doubt many people do good things and many believers do bad things. That is not the issue. Can we ever do anything completely good unless we do it for God and not for ourselves? Most of the time, for believers, it is a mixture of the two. Aren’t you glad that God is the final arbiter of those who are His because we will always be less than perfect in our assumptions?"

I think he misses the point. We can never "do anything completely good" even or especially for God.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
I am having a little difficulty with this one, but the Systematic Theology professor wrote the following. I asked him about it directly and I believe that he was trying to change my view:


"Doctrine of God, Some special insights:

d. The Foreknowledge of God -

i. Argument is that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, i.e. that God forsaw certain ones would respond to the Spirit, God knew they would believe and therefore predestined them to salvation.

ii. This argues against the depravity of humankind in that God sees something good in humankind. It also denies the independency and authority of God in that His eternal decress of salvation are resting upon what is discovered in the creature, and because of what He foresaw He then predestined them to eternal life.


iii. The truth is that in His high Sovereeignty God predestined some to have special favors (Acts 13:48). God determined for His own purposes to bestow upon some eternal life and through the faith that He is the author of through the Spirit.

iv. God's election is the cause, our believing in Christ is the effect.

v. This is why our faith is certain and sure, it rests not upon us but is a sovereign act, irresistible calling, preservation.

vi. Rom 8:29, 30; Rom 11:2; 1 Pe 1:2

vii. Foreknowledge in Scripture is never used in reference to events but always in reference to persons. "
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
To some extent, "liberal" is either a term of art, a badge of honor, or an epithet.

When used as a term of art, it denotes a specific strand of the Christian tradition associated with a movement that began in 19th century Pietism combined with Romanticism and pioneered by Schliermacher. Protestant liberalism emerged in Germany, was supported by Schleiermacher’s theological program, benefited from the rise of Darwinian thought, was impacted by the analysis of Marx, and proceeded to find a continuing role for Christianity by significantly reinterpreting the traditional doctrines. Wherever liberalism was practiced traditional Christian beliefs were either abandoned outright, or reinterpreted to fit the Zeitgeist. One of the hallmarks of "liberalism" is that it typically positions itself as mediator between what it deems two unacceptable alternatives: traditionalism/fundamentalism on the one hand and the complete rejection of Christianity on the other. McGrath suggests that the term “liberal” may be best interpreted as applying to “A theologian in the tradition of Schleiermacher and Tillich, concerned with the reconstruction of belief in response to contemporary culture."

When worn as a badge of honor, it often denotes those who are affiliated with rapidly shrinking mainline schools attempting to justify their continuing existence by cruising on the fumes of the renown of bygone luminaries. "The personality and character of XYZ Divinity School grows out of its rich heritage" to the progressive liberal tradition, simultaneously grounded in the the tradition of Christianity combined with a forward leaning commitment to a holistic Gospel of social justice. One such school cites every major theologian, pastor, and social activist associated with the SIX schools that kept merging to form its current instantiation who taught the Social Gospel, pioneered the application of historical criticism, or was an early adopter of evolution. Now they have merged themselves into a school with only 7 full time faculty. If they keep puffing their collective chests about their rich liberal heritage, perhaps they will merge themselves into non-existence.

When used as an epithet, it denotes anybody to the left of you. If you go to a fundamentalist school, evangelicals are liberals. If you go to a conservative "evangelical" place, then the "progressive" evangelicals are liberals. If you go to my alma mater in Pasadena, then the term is eschewed as a slur that stops the (seemingly) most important task in the world: critical engagement and bridge building to those who are in non-evangelical mainline traditions, and any variety of non-Christian religions. That is why you will hear people seriously say that Dallas Theological Seminary (a progressive dispensational flagship of the dispensational movement) has "gone liberal," Erskine has "gone liberal" (I only "know" this from things said on the PB by people who did not go there), TEDS has "gone liberal," etc.

As in much of life, where you stand has a lot to do with where you sit. Liberalism is in the eye of the beholder. If the person uses the term historically, they are probably a nerd or professional historical theologian (or both?). If they use it as a badge of honor, they are probably part of a rapidly shrinking mainline denomination. And, if they are using it to denote other conservatives slightly to the left of themselves, they may have an overdeveloped interest in internecine warfare and a perverse taste for eating their own young.

[For the record: I use "liberal" mostly as an epithet for "progressive" evangelicals. Anyone want a warm plate of bacon and scrambled evangelicals for breakfast?]
 
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xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
Today I posted this on my facebook:

A friendly reminder: the Pope is (probably) the antichrist | the Cripplegate


and this about Rick Warren:


"But then again, Rick Warren cares about who the next pope will be. He said, "Join me in a prayerful fast for the 115 Cardinals seeking God's Will in leadership." Oh dear."



I just received this response and "like" from a teacher of the seminary and a graduate of the seminary.

"wow - a long post conclusively proving that the numerous reformers believed the pope was the antichrist. That clinches it—if your authoritative scriptures is reformation teaching. Of course if your authority is the scriptures you don't have much to go on to make this argument (Which is why there are few quotes from the scriptures in the post).

From our FB conversations in the past, I would think you would wish to see more conclusive argument from the scriptures, not from tradition.

I will pray along with Warren"

I replied, "Dear x and y, I'm sure you are both well aware of the title, which states, "the Pope is (probably) the antichrist" which, if you read the whole thing, in particular the last paragraph, you would have read, "I give this long list simply to put forward a response to those that ask me if I care about who the next Pope will be. In short, I do not. And if calling the Pope the antichrist seems like a very unchristian thing to do, I assure you that it is not the theology of the thing that has changed in the last 50 years.Today’s reluctance to make that connection says a lot about how far our evangelical culture has drifted, and very little about the Pope." Thank you x and y, for proving the author's point.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.

Doesn't that, by implication, also say that you'll encounter professors that don't? It seems a more nuanced statement than saying 'all our professors believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.'
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.

Doesn't that, by implication, also say that you'll encounter professors that don't? It seems a more nuanced statement than saying 'all our professors believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.'

Not necessarily. It may just mean that the old guys are trying to sound breezy, cool, and inviting. "When you come to our school, sit down for a latte and awesome conversations about some of the greatest issues in the world, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you will encounter gentle and genial intellectual/spiritual guides who also believe in the the trustworthiness and authority of scripture just like you."

Without context, it would be hard to know what . . .
a. they are trying to say.
b. what they actually do. (you know, sell the sizzle, not the steak)
c. whether they simply hired a marketing firm to help brand them in order to attract a particular niche audience.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.

Doesn't that, by implication, also say that you'll encounter professors that don't? It seems a more nuanced statement than saying 'all our professors believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.'


I thought the same thing.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.

Doesn't that, by implication, also say that you'll encounter professors that don't? It seems a more nuanced statement than saying 'all our professors believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.'

Not necessarily. It may just mean that the old guys are trying to sound breezy, cool, and inviting. "When you come to our school, sit down for a latte and awesome conversations about some of the greatest issues in the world, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you will encounter gentle and genial intellectual/spiritual guides who also believe in the the trustworthiness and authority of scripture just like you."

Without context, it would be hard to know what . . .
a. they are trying to say.
b. what they actually do. (you know, sell the sizzle, not the steak)
c. whether they simply hired a marketing firm to help brand them in order to attract a particular niche audience.

I agree with that, too. But what does it say in light of everything else that I have mentioned?

Catholics are welcome in this seminary. Actually, I had one in my class (mind you I wasn't saved) and there was never anything mentioned that would say there was a difference. Another student and I explicitly asked the OT prof. and he said that Roman Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Women are numerous in the seminary too. There are more and more women on the ordination track every year. A few of them last year, when I brought up the point, said that they would have no problem with homosexuals as ministers - yes, practicing.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.

Doesn't that, by implication, also say that you'll encounter professors that don't? It seems a more nuanced statement than saying 'all our professors believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.'

Not necessarily. It may just mean that the old guys are trying to sound breezy, cool, and inviting. "When you come to our school, sit down for a latte and awesome conversations about some of the greatest issues in the world, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you will encounter gentle and genial intellectual/spiritual guides who also believe in the the trustworthiness and authority of scripture just like you."

Without context, it would be hard to know what . . .
a. they are trying to say.
b. what they actually do. (you know, sell the sizzle, not the steak)
c. whether they simply hired a marketing firm to help brand them in order to attract a particular niche audience.

I agree with that, too. But what does it say in light of everything else that I have mentioned?

Catholics are welcome in this seminary. Actually, I had one in my class (mind you I wasn't saved) and there was never anything mentioned that would say there was a difference. Another student and I explicitly asked the OT prof. and he said that Roman Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Women are numerous in the seminary too. There are more and more women on the ordination track every year. A few of them last year, when I brought up the point, said that they would have no problem with homosexuals as ministers - yes, practicing.

I was initially too lazy to check out what seminary you were speaking about. After reading their website, I need to nuance my initial comments. In defense of my take about "old guys are trying to sound breezy, cool, and inviting" and maybe "they simply hired a marketing firm to help brand them in order to attract a particular niche audience," notice this on the same page as "we emphasize the trustworthiness of scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ," please note:

Excellent Customer Service

We pride ourselves on quickly returning your phone calls and e-mails. We want to work with you to make the completion of your program a success.

Sounds a lot like either old guys wanting to look cool OR someone hired a marketing firm to "craft" their message for a niche market.

However, since a former long-term president of your school is a personal friend of mine (he and I were in the same denomination, he served on the board of my ministry, and was senior pastor of a church where I was a member for ten years after he left the pastorate to be president of your school), that adds significantly to my understanding of your situation. Not that he necessarily represents every faculty member, but among his more interesting views and notables . . .

* he was exceedingly diversely educated with degrees from Biola, Talbot, Fuller, Harvard, and the University of Edinburgh.
* he has co-authored books (or contributed to collections of essays) with James Sanders (Claremont), James Dunn (one of the "original" NPP guys), Craig Evans, and James H. Charlesworth.
* he was associated with the Jesus Seminar for a time, even being invited by Funk to give lectures to the Jesus Seminar on the meaning of the canon.
* he gets really exercised about statements of faith, creeds, and confessions, resigning from one academic post in the Midwest rather than sign an "inerrancy" statement that he could not affirm. When my judicatory wanted to adopt a simple evangelical confession of faith (kind of vanilla broad evangelicalism), he was the leading voice opposing it, sometimes with great fervor and seeming agitation.
* he is an expert on the canon, advancing some views that would not comport well on this forum.
* he wryly complained about the insistence on the "trinity," since it is not a biblical word.
* he is a strong egalitarian and champion of all that goes with it.
* he currently serves in retirement as an adjunct at my alma mater in Pasadena, a strongly "progressive evangelical" or "post-conservative" haven.

If my friend is anywhere near where your school is theologically, then the term he would probably apply to himself (if he would accept a "label") would be "progressive evangelical" in the Fuller Seminary, Northern Seminary, Eastern Seminary tradition. Since he lists himself as a series editor of Olson's "Reformed and Always Reforming: The Post-Conservative Approach to Evangelical Theology" in his CURRICULUM VITAE, maybe he would even accept the term "post-conservative"???

So, if you are using "liberal" as a term of art (and if my friend is a faithful exemplar of it), then your school is not liberal. If you are using it as a badge of honor, then my guess is that they would firmly deny it. But, if you are thinking in terms of the standards of the PB and using the term as an epithet, well . . .

As to your participation in the seminary, I graduated from a "progressive evangelical" school that educated Rob Bell, where Rick Warren earned his doctorate, and where "dialogue" is viewed nearly sacramentally . . . and still came out as a knuckle dragging, mouth-breathing, Neanderthal conservative inerrantist. As long as you don't expect them to agree with you theologically, their scholarship is pretty competent up there at that place in Canada. But, if you want to attend a school that will give you a consistently conservative evangelical or Reformed base, son, you are in the WRONG place.
 
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xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
At "XYZ" you will encounter professors who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.

Doesn't that, by implication, also say that you'll encounter professors that don't? It seems a more nuanced statement than saying 'all our professors believe in the trustworthiness and authority of scripture.'

Not necessarily. It may just mean that the old guys are trying to sound breezy, cool, and inviting. "When you come to our school, sit down for a latte and awesome conversations about some of the greatest issues in the world, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you will encounter gentle and genial intellectual/spiritual guides who also believe in the the trustworthiness and authority of scripture just like you."

Without context, it would be hard to know what . . .
a. they are trying to say.
b. what they actually do. (you know, sell the sizzle, not the steak)
c. whether they simply hired a marketing firm to help brand them in order to attract a particular niche audience.

I agree with that, too. But what does it say in light of everything else that I have mentioned?

Catholics are welcome in this seminary. Actually, I had one in my class (mind you I wasn't saved) and there was never anything mentioned that would say there was a difference. Another student and I explicitly asked the OT prof. and he said that Roman Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Women are numerous in the seminary too. There are more and more women on the ordination track every year. A few of them last year, when I brought up the point, said that they would have no problem with homosexuals as ministers - yes, practicing.

I was initially too lazy to check out what seminary you were speaking about. After reading their website, I need to nuance my initial comments. In defense of my take about "old guys are trying to sound breezy, cool, and inviting" and maybe "they simply hired a marketing firm to help brand them in order to attract a particular niche audience," notice this on the same page as "we emphasize the trustworthiness of scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ," please note:

Excellent Customer Service

We pride ourselves on quickly returning your phone calls and e-mails. We want to work with you to make the completion of your program a success.

Sounds a lot like either old guys wanting to look cool OR someone hired a marketing firm to "craft" their message for a niche market.

However, since a former long-term president of your school is a personal friend of mine (he and I were in the same denomination, he served on the board of my ministry, and was senior pastor of a church where I was a member for ten years after he left the pastorate to be president of your school), that adds significantly to my understanding of your situation. Not that he necessarily represents every faculty member, but among his more interesting views and notables . . .

* he was exceedingly diversely educated with degrees from Biola, Talbot, Fuller, Harvard, and the University of Edinburgh.
* he has co-authored books (or contributed to collections of essays) with James Sanders (Claremont), James Dunn (one of the "original" NPP guys), Craig Evans, and James H. Charlesworth.
* he was associated with the Jesus Seminar for a time, even being invited by Funk to give lectures to the Jesus Seminar on the meaning of the canon.
* he gets really exercised about statements of faith, creeds, and confessions, resigning from one academic post in the Midwest rather than sign an "inerrancy" statement that he could not affirm. When my judicatory wanted to adopt a simple evangelical confession of faith (kind of vanilla broad evangelicalism), he was the leading voice opposing it, sometimes with great fervor and seeming agitation.
* he is an expert on the canon, advancing some views that would not comport well on this forum.
* he wryly complained about the insistence on the "trinity," since it is not a biblical word.
* he is a strong egalitarian and champion of all that goes with it.
* he currently serves in retirement as an adjunct at my alma mater in Pasadena, a strongly "progressive evangelical" or "post-conservative" haven.

If my friend is anywhere near where your school is theologically, then the term he would probably apply to himself (if he would accept a "label") would be "progressive evangelical" in the Fuller Seminary, Northern Seminary, Eastern Seminary tradition. Since he lists himself as a series editor of Olson's "Reformed and Always Reforming: The Post-Conservative Approach to Evangelical Theology" in his CURRICULUM VITAE, maybe he would even accept the term "post-conservative"???

So, if you are using "liberal" as a term of art (and if my friend is a faithful exemplar of it), then your school is not liberal. If you are using it as a badge of honor, then my guess is that they would firmly deny it. But, if you are thinking in terms of the standards of the PB and using the term as an epithet, well . . .

As to your participation in the seminary, I graduated from a "progressive evangelical" school that educated Rob Bell, where Rick Warren earned his doctorate, and where "dialogue" is viewed nearly sacramentally . . . and still came out as a knuckle dragging, mouth-breathing, Neanderthal conservative inerrantist. As long as you don't expect them to agree with you theologically, their scholarship is pretty competent up there at that place in Canada. But, if you want to attend a school that will give you a consistently conservative evangelical or Reformed base, son, you are in the WRONG place.

If you are referring to a man whose first name reminds me of a Chinese martial arts star from the 60s and 70s and whose last name is a restaurant that is the cause of many heartaches in North America, then I am familiar with him.

I met him a few times and spent a few weeks with him in Greece and Turkey on a tour which he led.

I might even venture to suggest that the seminary is "worse" still, since his departure six years ago.
 

xirtam

Puritan Board Freshman
As to your participation in the seminary, I graduated from a "progressive evangelical" school that educated Rob Bell, where Rick Warren earned his doctorate, and where "dialogue" is viewed nearly sacramentally . . . and still came out as a knuckle dragging, mouth-breathing, Neanderthal conservative inerrantist. As long as you don't expect them to agree with you theologically, their scholarship is pretty competent up there at that place in Canada. But, if you want to attend a school that will give you a consistently conservative evangelical or Reformed base, son, you are in the WRONG place.

So, then this brings me to question two of this thread:

2) What if you have determined that XYZ is liberal?

I am nearly 2/3 finished and I'll have to go back soon or my statute of limitations will run out.

I appreciate your information. Although, I now need some advice as to whether to stay or to go (where I don't know). All of this has been done without much counsel, so I am seeking it now. Better late than never...:candle:

In Christ,
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Brian,

Since I don't know you or your intentions for exactly how you will use your seminary education, counsel is impossible.

As far as schools go, there are lots of progressive evangelicals who want to hold on to the piety of evangelicalism (and, surprisingly, some of the culture) while reinterpreting the doctrinal core to suit the Zeitgeist in the academy or sometimes the fads of the last generation of scholars. Several schools founded as alternatives to the modernist establishment became its biggest bastions and promoters long after the academy had moved on to other ideas.

37 years ago when neo-orthodoxy had all but died in mainstream academia, my classes were loaded with neo-orthodox texts. Egalitarianism became the norm in the modernist schools long before it came into the evangelical schools. Acceptance of homosexuality followed egalitarianism into the mainstream schools, and has been working its way into the evangelical ones a little at a time.

There are some schools that would meet your (seeming) requirements. And, you might be surprised at how much of your work would transfer if you do decide to change schools. In my experience, your vocational goals will determine to some extent where you obtain your degree. Some places excel at training pastors while others are more certain pathways to future PhD programs. As I indicated in my post, my progressive evangelical seminary (I can only remember having one professor who believed in inerrancy), graduated me with a firm commitment to inerrancy. So, it is not unthinkable to complete your degree where you began it.
 
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