The relationship between the Christian Seminary and the church has an important function in the training of men who desire to enter full or part time pastoral ministry. Within the Southern Baptist Convention, men who desire to attend Seminary or are identified as men who could benefit from it, may be entrusted to the Seminaries for further and deeper theological training. This is a trusted stewardship between the church and her formalized preparatory institutions; the Seminary. It is and continues to be a trust that is given and should be expected. That this man would be able to mature in his love of Christ, His church, and his role in helping others to demonstrate the same.
Midwestern Seminary recently hired Dr Jason Allen to serve as her 5th president and I couldn’t imagine a better man for the job. Why am I so certain? While attending a Midwestern Seminary luncheon here in Omaha, I had the privilege of receiving a collection of essays written by Dr Allen called “For the Church.” These essays were written so as to inform Midwestern on his understanding of this unique relationship between the church and the seminary. In his candidacy interview, he submitted these essays (in book form) and as it was told, the board had determined that this was the man for the job!
I like the board of trustee’s found these articles to be extremely encouraging and a reliably guide to the future success of Midwestern Seminary.
How can Dr. Allen be so confident in putting forth his vision of the success of this Seminary? Oddly enough, he doesn’t. That is, he has placed the success not in the Seminary’s ability to navigate the culture or to recognize trends, but in its faithfulness to the institution that will never end, the church! If a seminary is to last through the centuries, it must not attempt to rise above the church, pressing it’s values on it, but must place itself under it, being a servant of it. This agenda doesn’t just take a man with good vision, but a man with courage. And everyone must be on the same team. Dr Allen writes, “The fulcrum of doctrinal accountability for a seminary is its confessional statement, but it is only as meaningful as the integrity of the one signing it, and only as helpful as the courage and care of those charged with enforcing it. This oversight begins with the seminary’s administration, but it encompasses the churches that own the seminary.” If the church is called to be faithful, so then are the seminaries that exist to train men for faithful ministry in all it’s capacities. This means exercising accountability when needed. Maybe Dr Albert Mohler had that talk with Dr Allen before he left? If you’re going to be faithful to Christ, it’s not going to be without a fight. A fight within the school, the denomination, and from the world itself. The leader of this Seminary must have the courage and care to enforce the standard.
Like most endeavors that start of strong, only time will tell how faithful this Seminary will be to it’s great vision. Time will either tell, or we will tell whether it just took a little time, and like many seminaries, this too is just like many others who now serve to be burden to Christ and His church. With Dr. Allen’s appointment, I think we will be pleasantly surprised.