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Seminary For All The Wrong Reasons

A reader who studies at a multidenominational seminary writes:

More than a few of my classmates who hail from Mainline Protestant churches are clearly there for all the wrong reasons.  They are fiercely passionate about SSM, gay ordination, feminism, inclusive liturgical language, social justice and inclusion.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with social justice and inclusion, per se.)  But when you ask them about God or about Jesus in any even remotely theological sense, you get either awkward stammering or near-atheism.  Tradition is there to be critiqued, changed or ignored.  Scripture is viewed through the “hermeneutics of suspicion.”  Recently, one of our profs asked one of my classmates about his faith and his understanding of God.  This student is a pastor-in-training who is very passionate and outspoken about gay rights and about not using the word “Father” for God.   My classmate responded, “I’m having trouble with the whole ‘God thing.’  I don’t know what I believe.  I really don’t.”  And based on my experience of him, he doesn’t.  A seminarian saying stuff like that scares the heck out of me; especially with the Church and culture where they are today.  I am an imperfect guy, a sinner par excellence, and I have my theological doubts from time to time.  I have lots to learn, also, about theology and the like.  But this sort of thing seems to me to be indicative of what you’re talking about in your last couple of posts.  The unseriousness of religion and the precariousness of tradition.

Why do seminaries admit students like this? I’m not asking rhetorically; I’d really like to know. These people are fifth columnists, straight up. A friend of mine reports that his Mainline Protestant church has just received notice that their new pastor is on her way. Noticing the young age of the pastor, I asked my friend if they had any idea where the pastor stood on various moral issues (the congregation is fairly conservative). He said they didn’t know, and that the congregation has no say in who their pastor will be.

Now, this incoming pastor may be perfectly fine, but what’s interesting is to consider that she may have graduated from a seminary that ordained her, even though she may not believe in God, or may believe in a God far removed from the Christian tradition. What happens when the seminaries and church administration seed congregations with clergy who think like this? They commit slow suicide. Nobody wants to go to a church led by a pastor who isn’t sure he or she believes in God.

What is the point of going to seminary if you don’t believe in God? What is the point of having a seminary that trains clergy who don’t know if they believe in God, but do know that they believe in destroying the tradition?

Why do modern churches want to poison themselves?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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