In a recent convocation address for California’s Gateway Seminary, President Jeff Iorg discussed “The Unintended Consequences of a Seminary Education,” using 1 Timothy 6:3-10 as the basis of his message. A September 6 Baptist Press article reports:

He told the students he hopes they will find their classes challenging in preparing for a life of ministry — but not be impacted by unintended consequences of seminary training. “One unintended consequence of your seminary education is when your theological depth exceeds your character development,” Iorg said.

Iorg recounted a deacon in a local church calling to ask for advice about a brewing conflict between the pastor and his congregation. The deacon explained that the pastor had developed some positions controversial for many in the church. The bigger problem, however, was when the deacons tried to discuss it with him the pastor blew up in anger, marginalized his opposition, and questioned their theological understanding.

“The pastor did not suffer from a lack of theological depth,” Iorg said, “but a lack of character development. When one exceeds the other, chaos usually results.”

A seminary education also could be detrimental to the extent a graduate would rather debate doctrine with peers than share the truth with everyday people, Iorg said

“There are more students enrolled in the Southern Baptist Convention’s six seminaries than at any other time in history,” he said, “but there has never been a time when our churches are less effective in evangelism. We are better at arguing theology with our peers than explaining the Gospel to everyday people.

“It’s vital you master the depths and intricacies of the Gospel,” he said, “but you are not fully prepared until you can explain the Gospel to everyday people.”

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About The Author

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Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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