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Old 05-19-2008, 12:21 PM
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Thumbs down Scholarolatry

Learning is important, and I do not despise any effort a man can make to learn the Word of God more perfectly. Get all the degrees you can if your goal is the mastery of the Holy Bible. I refuse, though, to respect a man who is puffed up with his own conceit. I am not against seminary training in principle, but it is a fact that the bulk of seminary education today is the philosophical study of fallible man which results in uncertainty and foolish questionings instead of the practical study of God's infallible Word which results in confidence in the Bible, holiness of life, and zeal for the truth.

I see two problems with the broad use of credentialed titles among preachers. First, too often the title is meaningless. What sense is it to have Dr. before your name if you can't even write a proper paragraph in the king's English? Second, too often the title is a matter of pride. The late Evangelist Lester Roloff said it well when someone wanted to bestow upon him an honorary degree. He commented, „It would be like tying a pretty ribbon on a hog's tail.š Brethren, if we will be honest, all of us are mere hog's tails. God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; let's not act pretentious, not with our honorary degrees, nor with our earned degrees.

The wisdom commended by God is a practical wisdom, not a theoretical one. The late J. Vernon McGee, who made it his life's aim to take the Word of God and explain it and apply it, said the Bible had to get down to „where the rubber meets the road.š Sadly, Dr. McGee compromised in some matters, but I like his saying. Godly wisdom is a skill in understanding and applying the truth of God's Word to the needs of life and the work of God.


The Lord Jesus Christ did not submit Himself to the popular religious schools of His day, and He spoke in such a way that the common man could understand Him. His proud detractors stumbled at this Wisdom. They exclaimed, „How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?š (Jn. 7:15). Jesus Christ was not a scholar.


For the most part the Apostles were common men who were called by Jesus Christ to write the last chapters of the Bible and to establish the first churches. The Lord Jesus put these men through an intensive course in knowledge and wisdom, but it was not in a classroom; it was not theoretical. It was not „\ivory tower or arm chair theology. He taught them a practical, spiritual wisdom. Jesus Christ did not establish a seminary; He established a church. He did not grant degrees; He taught them how to do the work of God in this wicked, Hell-bound world. The Apostle's proud detractors did not recognize nor understand the wisdom God had given them. In their enemies‚ estimation, they were unlearned and ignorant men (Acts 4:13). The Pharisees were consumed with scholarolatry. My friends, I contend that the Apostles of Jesus Christ were some of the wisest men who have ever walked this earth. They were wiser even than the mighty prophets of Old, because they had greater Revelation. They were common men, but God gave them eternal wisdom. They were not scholars, though.


The qualifications for pastors is given in 1 Timothy and Titus, and I don't find anything there about the necessity of having a D.D. or a Th.D. or even an M.Div. The qualifications have to do with spiritual living and practical application of the Scriptures to life and the work of God. Could the pastor, then, be ignorant? Indeed not. He has to be skillful in handling the Word of God--no small feat. The pastor has to be „apt to teachš (1 Tim. 3:2). In Titus we see that the pastor must be a man who holds „fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayersš (Tit. 1:9). Thus he must have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures and of sound doctrine and he must have the ability to use this knowledge to edify the saints and to deal with false teachers. This is not a theoretical knowledge. This is „rubber-meets-the-roadš knowledge. The pastors of the early churches were not scholars.

Consider the men who have been greatly used by God through the centuries. Were the mighty prophets of Israel raised up through the prophets‚ schools, for the most part? No, God individually called and anointed them. What about Charles Haddon Spurgeon? He had no degree, yet he wielded vastly more influence for God in this world than hundreds of his titled compatriots combined. He maintained a Pastor‚s College, yet the goal of that college was not to award titles, but to grant men a practical knowledge of Jesus Christ and of His Eternal Word.

Please don‚t misunderstand me. I am for education and learning. I have been a diligent student all my Christian life. I have studied the Bible and associated material for an average of probably six hours a day for more than 27 years. I fear there are a great many men in the ministry today who are disqualified because they are too lazy to study. The possession of a degree does not make one a student. I am not exalting ignorance; I am exalting God‚s way of education over against the world‚s way. And I am rebuking the pride of man which is behind the phenomenon of „scholarolatry.š

„Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truthš (2 Timothy 2:15).
I also think of John Bunyan. He had wisdom from God, not from seminary.
James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.