I have recently had some theological discussion with a new friend that is a student at Midwestern Baptist Seminary and had some “interesting views” that lean toward humanism. So where would they coming from?
The other day, I thought I would look at their website and what I saw was very concerning to put it lightly. Dogmatic would be a gracious way to say it, cultish is would be a more clear application of thought.
Let me state from the start that I am not Baptist. A quick look at the theology of Quest for Souls would tell you that I am Pentecostal in doctrine. I told to many things to many things that Midwestern Baptist Seminary would agree to but there are clear differences, especially concerning pneumatology. This is not a “I am right and because you disagree, you are wrong” type thing.
The more pressing issues that I see with the emphasis of the school is the undertones of humanism in the vision, goals and programs of the education of people that may or may not have a call upon their lives. As I said, this is not about theological differences, this is about truth and confronting humanism in the camp of the people of God.
Vision for Church or Jesus
Midwestern Baptist Seminary claims they exist for the Church and to biblically educate men and women to be and make disciplines. (Not sure what that means for women who have no place in the Baptist Church!) While it is important to believe in the Church, we do not exist for the Church but for the proclamation of the gospel. (More on this later) The Church is temporal, the gospel is eternal.
In contrast, the seminary of my education makes it clear that “shape servant leaders with knowledge, skill, and passion to revitalize the church and evangelize the world in the power of the Spirit.”
The emphasis of Midwestern Baptist Seminary seems to be on the Church or humans to do the great commission which is more rooted in humanism that theocentric. They believe the Great Commission is to plant more churches. Jesus never said in any of the passages of the Great Commission to plant churches but preach the gospel with power gifts to confirm.
One of the biggest problems that we face is that they are pastoral centric to education. They seem to believe that the Church is the only way God does things. As a matter of contrast, the seminary of my theological education states clearly, “To provide culturally relevant professional skills training for pastors, missionaries, evangelists, military and institutional chaplains, teachers, and others.”
Do you see the difference? We believe that could raise up pastors but also evangelists, missionaries and teachers. We do not believe that it is only pastors. Paul made it clear there was Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists just as much as pastors.
The challenge here is they define the Church as a community of faith while Jesus saw it an “an assembly with a purpose.” When He told Peter he would be build the Church, He was saying that Peter would lead His assembly with the purpose of the gospel. (VFW is a gathering with a purpose but void of the gospel) The Lord saws a gathering with the purpose of the Lord was a church. This is the biblical understanding that the original believers would of had.
The Baptist tend to add a long list of requirements to be a church and they understand “for the Church” to include government, programs and many other things. In the culture of the apostolic church, they would have had to have 120 men to be considered a community with its own council. Until that was present, there was no “deaconship” in our context.
However, the biblical model remains that any gathering of believers for the purpose of worshipping and proclaiming the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Anything to adds to that is not being faithful to what the early church understood a “gathering with a purpose” to be.
If a seminary claims to be “for the Church,” then we need to define what the “Church” means to them. As we can see, how they define it and how the scripture reveal it is two different matters.
This is where it gets interesting. I am in support of true expository preaching. However, again, we need to make sure we are talking about the same thing. Many think this is going “verse by verse” that is popular in the Calvary Chapel movement. It is not.
Expository preaching is when the message is based in the text within the original context of the culture that was spoken to and the application that they would understood. Any attempt to remove a text from culture becomes out of context.