- Book Reviews
- About me
Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
"It's the Church... Stupid!"
August 22, 2004
Steve Camp has posted an interesting article at his ministry site entitled It’s The Church…Stupid!. He discusses the fact that in the New Testament times, pastoral training was handled not by seminaries but by the local church. He extends this to today to show that while seminaries may provide a wonderful education but do not produce good pastors. Going even further, he puts the blame for many of today’s most popular heresies on the Christian educational system.
Though his thesis is not particularly original, Camp raises some good points. He is quite right that the vast majority of dangerous heresies arise from seminaries and not from churches where a plurality of elders works closely with a pastor to ensure he is true to the Bible. He is also right that many seminaries produce pastors that are entirely unsuited to the role of pastor. And he is certainly right that seminaries did not exist while Jesus and His apostles “turned the world upside down.” Of course he does go a bit overboard, ignoring the fact that seminaries have produced thousands of very knowledgeable and capable pastors. While the system may not be ideal, and perhaps is not even Biblical, is is not as great a disaster as he might have us believe. And as an aside, I’m quite surprised at how many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors the article contains.
Here are a couple of quotes:
They have succumbed to the spirit of the post-modern age by embracing that which they would have condemned less than a generation ago. It should come as no surprise, that most of the latest overture concerning theological error comes from these ministerial mavericks who operate in the vacuum of their own perspicacity absent of the onion skin of proper local church eldership to examine what they pen before they publicly disseminate. Accountability and submission to the God-appointed biblical eldership of the local church guards one against error and promotes Christlikeness through sound doctrine. Those words of accountability and submission are anathema for these self-regulating, self-governing academics. I would rather go to battle for the gospel with five biblically trained elders through the local church then a hundred professionals that have come through the halls of seminarian scholasticism. It’s the professionals that have brought evangelicalism to the abyss of apostasy—not the faithful godly elders of local churches (Gal. 1:6-9). (As I write this article, I am more grateful than ever for the elders of my local church as they keep faithful watch over this ministry and my life.)
The sheer arrogance and intellectual naïveté of academia is beyond biblical rational. Here is the foolishness of the university model for ministry: You teach a group of men in a classroom for four years; give them training in the art of “informational regurgitation”; give them needed and valuable tools in the languages (Greek and Hebrew), systematic theology, church history, and general Bible knowledge; and somehow magically at the end of that four years of education, out pops a pastor… a shepherd of God’s people— This is asinine-and that’s the problem. A classroom a shepherd does not make. Is it any wonder that evangelicalism is in the inebriated state we find it today? The ministry, beloved, has been drugged, date-raped, and thrown back as no longer virgin in her beliefs by these would be scholastic theological predators. Again, genuine biblical ministry must be inextricably linked to and under the accountability of the local church—or its not biblical ministry.
It’s a bit of a long read, but like most of what Camp writes, it is well worth the effort.
While we’re on the subject of Steve Camp, here’s a hilarious top ten list he wrote: top ten signs you’re visiting a bad church:
10.) Crying room provided for your “inner child”
9.) Baptismal tank features a wave-machine
8.) Regular attendees earn frequent flyer miles
7.) Prayer meeting replaced by an extreme image make-over class with Dr. Phil
6.) People jumping up and down holding bidding signs thinking the pastor said, “you need to get an auction from heaven!”
5.) Bibles in pews have been replaced with “Revolve Magazines”
4.) Sign out front has latest pastors name written with dry erase marker
3.) Offering plates mounted with credit card swipers
2.) Praise band leads worship in song by performing a Beatles medley
1.) Banner across front of sanctuary reads, “Today’s worship service presented by Chevrolet”
That’s good stuff!