Theological Anthropology: Educating the Heart

Modern educational institutions including seminaries have been adept at giving information and content to its student populace. This has created men and women of faith that are experts in the doctrines of Christ yet there seems to be a lack of holiness within the churches. This seems to argue for a disconnect between knowledge (orthodoxy) and practice (orthopraxy). Seminary educators are in the unique position to help address this gap. Seminaries are the general training grounds for many of the pastors of tomorrow. If the professors in these institutions are trained to adapt their teaching methods to a greater focus on helping students live their theology, this trend can be mitigated. This is theology experienced. Such theology is shown in the Christian’s faith in practical application within daily life rather than esoteric knowledge gained without its application. Such believers truly understand God’s sovereign control over all aspects of life and are able to thrive in the midst of the difficulties of navigating faith in a cultural existence that is antithetical to all Scripture teaches. To accomplish such a mission, seminaries, professors, and leaders of faith must do three things.

First, they must hire faculty in seminaries and pastors in churches with the ability to educate not just give content. There is a significant difference between having knowledge and the ability to give that knowledge to others. John Maxwell once said, “You never really know something until you teach it to someone else.” The thought behind this is proving true.

Second, professors need to be adaptable to new methods and ideas. Many Christian institutions argue for Servant Leadership as a distinguishing mark of their allegiance to Christ. The term is thrown around without knowledge of its core definitions. One of the core ideas within this model of leadership is meeting the needs of employees to help them grow. The professor or pastor may need to change their style of teaching to get better results. Most faculty members or pastors teach in the same method that they were taught, however, students change and don’t always have the same skillsets of the previous generation. An argument can be made that teaching is not about how much content a student has been exposed to but how much they retain.

Lastly, seminaries and churches must devote more time of resources to discipleship. In the classroom, this can be done through using techniques such as the flipped classroom model. Professors can record small sections of content that are watched during the week but in class, the discussions delve into the application and assimilation of truth rather than just constant exposure to new content. This may change how much content is covered but what needs to be of primary importance is how much content reaches the heart. The church must create effective small groups or Adult Bible Fellowships led by qualified men that exemplify the Christian life. All need to see theology lived rather than discussed. Such steps can help create the change the church needs today.

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