Keith Hunt - Education for Ministers? Restitution of All

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EDUCATION for Ministers?

It is a MUST!

                       EDUCATION AND CHURCH LEADERS?

Should Church Leaders be Educated?

Dr.Tom Roberts

In today's world of fad oriented Christian teaching, one could
certainly ask the question whether or not education serves any
real purpose in the life of most Christian believers. Even the
Sabbath School quarterly approach used by Sabbath and traditional
churches was developed by D.L.Moody to reach the illiterate
classes in the Chicago slums. To make matters even more
confusing, Alden Thompson, Ph.D., states that when any part of
the Christian church becomes educated in the traditional sense,
the evangelical outreach of the church members drops to an all
time low. In today's seeker sensitive church environments, we
have more pastors graduating with a master's degree in business
rather than the Master of Divinity, which was the church standard
for ordaining pastors since 1962.

The Proper Role of Theoloqical Education

In the development of a Christian leader there needs to be a
balance of life's experience coupled with spiritual mentorship
and deep theological development. Even though there is no
substitute for individual prayer and Bible study devotions, we
often fall short when it comes to understanding the biblical text
within its original literary and cultural environments. As far as
our spiritual journey is concerned, it is often helpful to study
the wisdom of our forefathers who have gone before us in the
development of our faith. Isn't it an interesting paradox how
Christians can challenge the need for an educated clergy and
church body while forgetting the educational achievements of
those who translated the biblical text as well as the resources
contained in their own libraries? We all need to stop and
remember, the knowledge we take for granted has come to us by the
blood, sweat and tears of a Jerome or a Tyndale or a Maximus the
Confessor and many others down through the pages of history who
have paid with their very lives, so we can walk into almost any
book store and simply pull centuries of information off the shelf
and feel like we have the paradigm all figured out. There is also
no replacement for approaching biblical data with a great deal of
common sense because the Spirit of God develops a sound mind (1
Timothy 1:7). As my mentor, Professor Roy Blizzard, Ph.D., has
often stated, the biblical text often contains the miraculous to
demonstrate the power of divinity behind the scenes but never
goes contrary to our human reason, because our minds would reject
the revelation of God.

It should also be noted that where the biblical text has been
admired for its religious authority as well as for its literary
advancement, human society has reached very high spiritual and
ethical development. Almost all of the great North American and
European universities were founded upon religious traditions.
However, in the early 1900s, during the rise of fundamentalism,
the education in many denominations would separate from the
university system to develop Bible college institutions. The
situation changed again in the 1930s, when denominational
seminaries became the pathway to ministry. And with the most
recent expansions in Christian universities and on-line degree
programs, today's leader has choices of which our forefathers
could have never dreamed possible, right at his finger tips.

Complex World Requires Comprehensive Education

We are all familiar with the adage, "My mind is made up, don't
confuse me with the facts!" or "Why can't we do ministry with the
same simplicity my grandpa did?" The answer rests in this fact:
our world has changed. We should never forget that the great
qualities of Moses' leadership were developed as a student not
only in Egypt, like Abraham before him, but also as an intern
under the leadership of the Priest of Midian. The fact cannot be
over emphasized that the literary genius of Isaiah was developed
in the School of the Prophets and maintained by the Spirit of God
as it moved upon these men. The great prophet and high priest,
Ezekiel, belonged to the School of the Babylonian Prophets. These
wise men would later be referred to as the School of the Maji,
the group that would interpret the prophecies in Zechariah 9:9 to
foretell the coming of our Messiah. Later in the church era,
the Apostle Paul would truly become one of the greatest scholars
of his day, he was taught at the feet of Gamaliel. So even the
biblical writers didn't fly by the seat of their pants
theologically because they had to know and commit to memory the
entire Hebrew Bible and be able to recite it by the age of 13.

George Barna [1] states that in today's world less than 4% of the
believing church actually reads the text in daily devotions.

In Sabbatarianism we have our own set of problems dealing with
self-proclaimed researchers who often mislead God's sheep with
poorly researched and misleading statements. Here are a few
examples. "The Gnostics were responsible for changing the
Sabbath." This couldn't possibly be true because Gnostic
Christianity did not have a complete hold on the Roman Empire and
there were many Gnostic Christians in the Coptic Church who
maintained Sabbath observance. Another misnomer often repeated is
that the Sabbath was changed during the Council of Nicaea in 325
AD. This is also fallacious due to the fact that Justin Martyr
and many other patristic fathers show us that first day
observance was growing ever since the writings of Polycarp. It
should be noted that the Council of Nicaea was over the issue of
the substance between the Father and the Son. Many students of
history have vacated Sabbatarian theology due to these over
statements and we have lost a great deal of credibility.

Scholarship Supports Sabbatarian Beliefs

During the 1950s, Jesus Scholarship was enjoying another wave of
research and development. Under this wave, many traditional
teachings of Christianity were being undermined. The heaven/hell
paradigm along with the immortal soul was rejected by Rudolf
Bultmann, Claus Westermann, and over 300 other scholars from both
sides of the Atlantic when they met to present position papers.
When the next wave of Jesus Scholarship grew into full bloom, it
would be about Jesus operating within Judaism supported by such
great scholars as J.H. Charlesworth, W. D. Davies, Martin Hengel,
David Biven, who would no longer see Jesus or Paul as a law
breaker and a generation of others. Today, in evangelical
Christianity, Dr.Dale Brunner, a Presbyterian scholar, maintains
that the Bible says nothing about going to heaven - only the
sleep of the dead and a resurrection to paradise earth. As
recently as last month on Nightline, a well known
nightly news program on ABC TV, the great Anglican scholar, N.T.
Wright, stated in all his glory that the biblical text says
nothing about going to heaven or burning in hell forever. He is
followed by others such as Clark Pinnock, Hans Kung, John Stott
and Dr.Fudge on conditional immortality. Sam Bacchiocchi reports
in his lectures about the Sabbath under Crossfire that over 2000
articles in theological journals appear annually representing the
Sabbath truth. 

So, with all of this marvelous theological development, we should
never be as an ostrich with our head in the sand oblivious to our
surroundings, but we should be embracing this growth and
supporting the movers and shakers in these scholarly areas so
that our voice will be heard with credibility and our movement
won't be hindered any longer with our lack of willingness to
develop a theological system that can be respected. To quote Dr.
Charles Dorothy, "Without scholarship, you are going nowhere."

In the development of a Christian leader there needs to be a
balance of life's experience coupled with spiritual mentorship
and deep theological development.

The Church Leader and Education

Like everything in life, balance must be maintained in the growth
of any leader.


When one understands the art of homiletics or sermonizing, even
if one is naturally a good speaker, a person's skills can be
sharpened by understanding the type of sermons, such as
liturgical or free style, that are in the Bible and fit the
delivery of various types of sermons.


A person can be granted the gift of insight into character and
behavior of other people, but due to a lack of training can
overstep the boundaries of a counselor by trying to give
spiritual advice. The knowledge of counseling can also aid the
counselor in asking the right questions to flush out the real
issues that may lie deep under the surface.

Church Leader

The act of leadership may be formally organized or it can be
applied individually. The goal of leadership is to provide an
arena of transformation so the elders are free to groom new
converts who possess spiritual gifts to be matured into works of


This lot of ministers are to be judged double because they
represent service directly from the biblical text. The original
Hebrew term for teacher, "kahkah meem," is closer to our word
"scholar" because a teacher spent his entire life studying the
Torah. In Judaism there was no higher calling.


There are 137 types of prayer in the Old Testament alone;
including, petitions, collects, praise reports, laments,
thanksgivings, blessings, benedictions and intercessions. This
path to spiritual development requires commitment and prayerful
spiritual discipline and study.

George Barna states that in today's world less than 4% of the
believing church actually reads the text in daily devotions.
For any church movement to have a world class voice in the
religious marketplace, several parts of ministry must be employed
for the movement's development forward. When a church movement
grows, it is very mission minded. This was the reason the
Baptists established Baylor University as it was to meet the
needs of a trained group of missionaries. Today, that university
stands as the height of Baptist professional associations. Many
overseas missionaries have come back to seminary to complete
their Doctorate in Missionary Studies, to learn more about world
religions, cultural anthropology, and languages. Medical
missionaries will sometimes earn an MD to assist the native
peoples with their health needs. 

Without an educational outreach coupled together with a social
justice emphasis that resonates from true Sabbath experience, our
traditions will be greatly handicapped in our service to
humankind. It is even theologically impossible to grow and to
define our movement spiritually if we can't address the issues
that confront us in defense of our faith. The studies of these
and other disciplines force us to develop critical thinking
skills as our theological system is enhanced and maintained.

Education enables religious traditions to perform acts of service
with credibility in their own local communities and beyond such
counseling centers; women's and children's shelters, advocacy
groups, church relief societies, hospital and military
chaplaincies, homeless shelters, biblical archaeological
excavations, great musicians and composers, inventors, linguists,
poets and playwrights, all of which are supported by church
educational programs.

Let us make the most of our resources in the development of the
credible and vibrant use of the talents and gifts that God has
given us collectively and individually so that we may give to the
world what has been given to us and create a corporate voice that
can be respected as those who will investigate and act upon the
truth of God's Word.


Dr.Tom Roberts is the Ministry Coordinator for the General
Council Churches of God, (Seventh) Day Inc.

[1] George Barna is the founder of "The Barna Group," a market
research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and
behavior of Americans, and the intersection of faith and culture.
The Barna Group conducts opinion polls, which are generally
interpreted from an evangelical perspective, and often cited
within evangelical circles. His research has revealed "a radical
gap between what we heard Christians professing they believed and
the values and the lifestyle that grew out of the values."

July/August 2008 "ACTS" magazine a publication of the General
Council of the Churches of God, Meridian, ID, USA



It has been a blessing to me that I have worked with a number of
very well educated people over the years. Jesse, whose Website is
on my Website here, and who designed and put together much of
this Website, and taught me how to maintain and upload to it,
before she died from cancer, was a very well educated woman with
various degrees from University.
Then today I am blessed to be able to have as a co-worker another
very well educated young lady (as of 2009 - 26 years old) - Tara
Chapman (who has her own Website to serve the Sabbath keeping
Churches of God, mentioned on the first page of this Website).

Education is continual. We should continue to read and study (and
God gives each of us our particular areas of study strengths) -
so we all make the body of Christ full and complete. Tara Chapman
has educated study strengths I do not have, and so her service to
me and the Church of God is a blessing.

If anyone from the Roman Catholic and Protestant world of
Christianity are reading and studying from this Website, let it
be known to you that the ministry of the Sabbath keeping Churches
of God, believe in education, for its people, its children, and
for its ministry.

Keith Hunt

Entered on this Website, May 2009

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