The influence of theological institutions should be directional.
Seminaries are God-given and important tools, but how can these “tools” be best used to advance the mission of the God as expressed through the church?
Obviously there are more than this, but there are four ways seminaries can serve (and in many ways, already are serving) the mission of the church.
Providing guidance for the mission
It is important to understand that theological education is genuinely essential—not as the engine of the church, but in some ways as the steering wheel of the church. The engine of the church has to be the mission, the passion of God’s people who are engaging faithfully and fruitfully in Gospel work, that advances the work of the Kingdom.
The engine provides the power; the steering wheel helps guide the forward motion.
We have seen this from the beginning of the Church and everywhere she has gone. When a movement is started, but no theological training is established, it may drive off in the wrong direction. In some cases, missionaries may have started churches, but because theological education was not put in place soon enough, such movements became syncretistic and some even left the faith.
You can have the most powerful engine imaginable, but a lack of steering wheel results in uncontrolled movement. When theological problems become deeper and more profound we look back and say, “Well, that started as a good idea. Too bad it didn’t stay on track.” It is little different than Paul’s assessment of Israel:
“I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Romans 10:2, HCSB)
(A different problem arises when theological education becomes the engine of the church. Some denominations are driven by their theological ...