Why go to seminary? Admittedly, many readers of this blog–namely, seminarians–will have already answered such a question for themselves. But maybe you need a reminder, especially in these last weeks of papers and (gulp!) final exams.
Mark Rogers, who did his PhD at TEDS and is on staff at the church I attend, recently wrote a wonderful piece on the Gospel Coalition blog answering this question with five big points drawn from the wisdom of Timothy Dwight: (1) time to study, (2) the library, (3) the faculty, (4) other students, and (5) the doctrine. I recommend you give it a read (it’s short!).
But let me briefly highlight the one you might tend to forget, or to undervalue–reason #2. Mark writes,
Full-time students have lots of time to read–more than they’ll ever have in full-time ministry. Broad and deep reading is one of the main purposes of seminary. Professors are there to teach and mentor, but also to force you to read. As you read, you learn and grow, you learn how to read, and you learn what’s worth reading.
You can’t afford all the books, journals, articles, and dictionaries you’re required to read. That’s why strong seminaries and divinity schools have extensive and growing libraries. A good library gives you access to vast amounts of knowledge and distilled wisdom you cannot find online. If you’re in seminary, take advantage of the library–you’ll miss it when you’re gone.
Logos is great, and so are e-books and discount books from Amazon. But face it: once you’ve graduated from TEDS, you won’t have access to anywhere near Rolfing’s carefully acquired 200,000 volumes.
So let’s give thanks to God for the great blessing to our training and scholarship that our library represents and take full advantage of it while we are students.