The job of a pastor requires a deep understanding of God’s Word. Today, Joel Kim explains why a seminary education is vital for men preparing for pastoral ministry.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We’re joined today by Reverend Joel Kim, the president of Westminster Theological Seminary in California and a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Reverend Kim, why is it important that pastors go to seminary?
REV. JOEL KIM: We certainly believe that good Christians should be members of a local church. We believe that good churches have good pastors who are faithful. And we believe that good pastors are well-educated. That’s been the history of the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition, not only because we want educated men leading the churches; we want people who love the Word, study the Word, who are specialists in the Word. So, our primary focus in theological education is that ultimately at the end of their education, that they are experts in the Bible is the ultimate goal.
You may recognize that seminaries have different disciplines. We have the language courses, where we learn the original languages behind the Word. We have biblical courses that teach biblical theology, as well as how to interpret the Bible. We have systematic theology that brings together the theological understanding of Scripture so that we have an overall structure of our belief. We have historical theology to teach us how people interpreted the Bible over time. We have practical theology that teaches us how to apply the Bible. At the end, the most important thing is that we become experts in the Bible.
And the reason we advocate for theological education for pastors is because, in these changing times, we don’t need pastors who are less educated. We need people who are more educated, not just to know the Word, who are deeply marinating in the Word so that they can wisely apply the Word to our present changing circumstances and time. So, we do believe that educated clergy, learned pastors are still a very important part of not only our theological denominations and traditions, but for the health of the church and for the glory of God and the health of God’s people. It’s an absolutely necessary part of the preparation for leading a church ministry.
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