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Monday, 21 July 2014

One more reason to question Bible College training

In other blogs, I have argued against the usefulness of Bible Colleges for training the next generation of Christian workers. Here I focus on one additional argument against the practise: it creates minds that can't think simply.

The college trained mind
Whatever subject you train for in a college setting (with the exception perhaps of the excellent apprentice schemes for practical skills), your mind gets trained in a certain way; can't be helped.

You are encouarged to analyse, systematise, rationalise, and so on. The end product of university training on the mind, including the requirement to write essays and revise for exams is a mind that uses big words and complicated words and sentences, and often thinks conceptually.

Part of the reason for the college kind of reasoning, writing and speaking is that the people we are writing for, examined by and speak to at College have the same kinds of minds: mind reproduces mind.

Part of the reason for big words is that they are shorthand for what would be longer descriptions.

For example
So, if a College trained mind is talking about the wonderful truth that Jesus died in my place, he would refer to the "Penal Substitution of Christ."

The problem
The problem is not only that such a sentence sounds weird, it is also profoundly uninteresting and boring, because the wonderful death of Jesus Christ for me has been translated into  third party College-speak. If I was a fisherman, I'd miss this chapter out because I wouldn't have a clue what it meant. What does Penal mean for a starter? I have never once used that word in any conversation in my whole life. And I have never read it in the Bible.

The problem is that the ordinary Christian - and that's most of us - either thinks they have to become College trained to grow as a believer, or ends up not growing at all because they are choked with unintelligible college-ese.

The problem is that these guys and gals come out of College producing not sermons but lectures that pass over the heads of most. Or their preaching week by week just filters out most of society, so they are preaching to people who understand, but not people who represent society. Perhaps a few of them unlearn everything they had learnt in college, and thus become useful again.

The tragedy with 'collegese' is that because it is respected,  it's kept alive by pastors. I have been in a pastors' fraternal where they give "papers"! What? They take turns giving "papers"? No, they don't write a newspaper and share it on powerpoint, they do what researchers at universities do - give each other papers - write a talk abouts a subject and read it out to each other, and then it is often published. Why can't pastors say, "I'm gonna talk to you guys next month about the book of Job / abortion / Hudson Taylor / whatever", why does it have to be "Next month, brother X will be giving a paper entitled "The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor" (serious, that was the title of a 'paper' in a Christian theological journal in the 1980s. Can you work out what it means? Five points.).

We must train the next generation of workers in ordinary language so that the Gospel is not veiled. And that means keeping them as far away as possible from College.

Should I go to Bible College?

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