Is a Theological Education Worth It? -or- Should I go to school to study the Bible?

I’m in my last semester of seminary. When all is said and done, seminary will have taken me right at four years to complete. That is on top of the four years that I spent at Oklahoma Baptist University studying theology for my undergraduate degree. That, my friends, is a lot of school for a Master’s degree. As I struggle through this last semester I have found myself thinking back over my last eight years of higher education and asking the question, was it worth it? Did I actually learn things that have equipped me for ministry and will help me as I begin to transition from stuffing my brain with information to synthesizing the information into a practical and useful form for ministry use?

The short answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!” Now, there have been times on this journey where I have gotten very little out of a class, but even in those cases there have usually been bright spots where I have been able to grab hold of an assigned reading, project, or presentation and really gain something of value even if I felt that the actual class time was not of much use. That said, I think the true test of an education is when you step out and start to really apply what you have learned. I have done that multiple times over the last couple of months as I have prepared sermons for different occasions. As I sit in my office studying a passage, I begin to make connections. I remember things from theology classes, history classes, and even the classical literature that I studied during the liberal arts core of my undergrad.

Having that knowledge in my head from eight years of school had made the process of studying the Scriptures all the more incredible because of all the connections that can be made both within the text of Scripture itself, and to life in general. I also believe that the last eight years would be a complete waste if I could not use what I have learned to practically apply Scripture to my life and the lives of others. Thankfully, being in the Army and ministering to soldiers and staying involved with a local church has helped me avoid getting too caught up in the academic bubble that often causes students to drift out of the real world. I know I still have much to learn when it comes to applying the Scriptures, but maintaining those connections outside of the educational environment has made it much easier to see how much what I have learned can actually be applied to everyday ministry and life.

So in the end, I would say that as a whole it has been worth it. The things that I have learned, the ability to think critically, the ability to write well, the broad based knowledge that makes reading scholarly works feasible, the great professors that I have had the privilege of learning from (especially my undergrad professors) have made it worth it. On top of those, the most important thing that I have learned is a greater appreciation for the Word of God in its perfection, applicability, and the intricacies of the theology found within its pages.

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