Written by Dr. Todd Mangum
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 00:00
Pam Smith, our VP for student advancement, recently shared with me this picture, with the comment of what a great illustration this is as to why seminary training is so valuable and necessary today.
Now, just so you know, I do know the vested interest we both have in this observation.
I’ll still say it, though. God has indeed provided us many effectual resources: His Word, the wise and intelligent thought and testimony of saints and Christian thinkers and theologians before us, His Spirit-indwelt community, the Church; etc. There is an “independent streak” running through our culture today, though, that disdains “tradition,” “institutionalism” or “formal training” even such as would actually help Christian leaders take better advantage and benefit from these vast resources God has given us.
And, there’s no question that God is capable of astonishing resourcefulness in contexts in which resources are scarce – where Christianity is illegal, for example. But I fear that, today, many well-meaning Christians look to the “primitive Christianity” of places like China or Africa and hold them up – not as examples of how the Spirit of God “still finds a way” in a context where resources are scarce – but as paragons of what we should aspire to, as though the training and assets we have in this country for fostering discipleship are somehow to blame for the church’s deficiencies. That seems to me like advising a person to gouge out their eyes to try to gain the heightened sense of hearing and smell that the blind “enjoy.”
I think that’s a mistake. You?
Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical. He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/todd-mangum.