Steadfast Office – Seminary or Bust!

June 10th, 2012 Post by

DISCLAIMER: As the author, I do not place any blame on the men who now serve in the preaching office who went through and alternate route instead of going to the seminary. It’s not your fault!

On the front page of Concordia Theological Seminary‘s website, these words appear on the banner, “Teach the faithful. Reach the lost. Care for all.”

For centuries, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has held four criteria for a man seeking the preaching office. Those four areas are 1) Education, 2) Examination, 3) Call, and 4) Ordination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church has historically used the seminary to accomplish these tasks.

When I was seeking the preaching office, I knew that I had to go to the seminary. Why? Well, everyone knows that if a man wants to learn theology, to become a pastor/priest, he goes to the seminary. It’s the same for doctors; you go to medical school. Lawyers go to law school. Theologians go to the seminary. Period! Is that correct? Is that the only answer? Is there another way?

I say that if you want to study theology in the pursuit of the preaching office, then you go to the seminary. If you want to learn theology to study at home, lead devotions, or to gain a better understanding of the Holy Scriptures, you have other colleges and universities that can aid you in your pursuit of knowledge. However, if you are a man seeking to serve our Lord Jesus Christ in the preaching of the Word and administration of the sacraments, then it’s seminary or bust!

Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has seen some changes to her history and tradition. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) has tried her hand at Distance Education Leading To Ordination (DELTO). I suppose the idea sounds good and looks good on paper. What was the program lacking? Did they receive the best education available? I dare say, NO!

What about the “lay ministry” programs? Concordia Mequon, now, Concordia University Wisconsin, has been presenting the lay ministry program in a variety of formats. First there was the ten classes format. Later, that program blossomed into a four year degree. Now, there is yet another option which encompasses online learning. (For more information on the “lay ministry program at CUW, contact Dr. Oberdeck (here). Although terrible in its own right, the “lay ministry” program exploded after the 1989 Synodical convention. What happened? Were these programs any better than the seminary or even the DELTO program? What’s missing with this idea? What’s wrong with this idea? First, the concept of “lay ministry” is contrary to the Scriptures and Confessions! If you want to be a pastor and you are seeking the preaching office, go to the SEMINARY!

Then there is the “infamous” Alternate Route” program offered by both seminaries (CTSFW) and (CSL). Why is this program any better than the M.Div. route? Why did the LCMS decide to eliminate the last year of education (the capstone year)? If the Alternate Route is good, then why add the extra costs and stress to the men and their families by bringing them back from vicarage? Better yet, why have a vicarage? Have the men go three straight years and then send them out to work.

Now, that the LCMS doesn’t have enough shortcuts to the preaching office, in 2007, the LCMS passed this new opportunity called Specific Ministry Pastor Program (SMPP)? What is this program all about? Why are men being ordained so quickly in this path? Anything wrong here? Anything new? I’m sorry to inform you that there’s nothing new here either. Just another failed attempt at mankind trying to shortcut the Holy Scriptures by trying to shortcut the instructions of our Lord through St. Paul when He says, ” For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, gnot given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. ” (Titus 1:7-9)

The seminary is about more than classes and tests. The seminary is centered on the worship life of the men studying the Word. In the classroom, you hear the Doctors of the Church bring to light the Word of God. They teach you from the original languages of Greek and Hebrew. They teach history, systematics, and pastoral care. However, the Doctors of the Church also lead prayer services and the Divine Service in the Chapel every day. They feed the men with scholarly knowledge and they also fill the soul with the Word of God.

I must say that learning at home and discussing theology for a couple of hours with your pastor is not the same as being submerged in the doctrine and living it out in worship every day. I believe the LCMS made grave mistakes, not because of theology, but because of politics, when she created these other, subpar programs to train men for the preaching office.

In closing, I cannot see how these other programs can be as good as the training and lifestyle a man experiences at the seminary. I cannot see how these programs can viewed as “superior” to the training a man receives at the seminary. The only thing I can see is that these other programs cost less money.

Martin Luther wrote these words concerning The Gospel when he wrote the Smalcald Articles:

We shall now return to the Gospel, which offers council and help against sin in more than one way, for God is surpassingly rich in his grace: First, through the spoken word, by which the forgiveness of sin (the peculiar function of the Gospel) is preached to the whole world; second,5 through Baptism; third, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar; fourth, through the power of the keys; and finally, through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren. Matt. 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered,” etc. (SA III IV)

The LCMS needs to get back to her confessional roots and return to her rich heritage. She needs to take a stand. IT’S TIME! It’s time to get back to sound teaching of the doctrine given to us by Jesus. It’s time the Church get back to “the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.” It’s SEMINARY or Bust!

 






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  1. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 10th, 2012 at 16:18 | #1

    Dr. J. A. O. Preus II (1920-94)…

    “This is a professional school for the training of men for a profession. In that sense, it’s no different from an engineering school or even a barber college. A man comes to learn a certain profession—a law school, medical school. And we’ve got to prepare men who can function with Lutheran congregations and the general public of the United States and Canada in the year Nineteen Hundred and Seventy Five. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to prepare 45 source critics or even Greek scholars in the technical sense.”

    “You and Your Synod—Present Issues Between the Synod and Other Lutherans”
    Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, IL
    1975

  2. Dave Likeness
    June 10th, 2012 at 16:40 | #2

    If the LCMS wants to properly prepare men for the pastoral
    ministry, then resident seminary education is the best method.
    To supplement the seminary education, it would be great to
    have our men take a pre-seminary college education at one
    of our Concordia Universities.

    There is no substitute for a well-educated pastor in the 21st
    century. Lutheranism needs to lead the way with top-notch
    faculties at our universities and seminaries. Hebrew and Greek
    should be required if we want pastors who can teach and
    preach God’s Word in a meaningful way.

    Seminary residency turns seminarians into scholars who are well
    versed in Dogmatics, the Lutheran Confessions, Church History,
    Homiletics, Liturgical Worship, as well as Old and New Testament
    Theology.

    When you go into surgery at the hospital do you want a surgeon
    who got his medical degree on-line? When you hire a lawyer do
    you want an attorney who got his law degree on-line? When
    you attend a local parish do you want a pastor who took shortcuts
    and on-line courses to get a master of divinity degree?

  3. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 10th, 2012 at 19:51 | #3

    Dr. J. A. O. Preus II (1920-94)…

    During his 1981 interview with this magazine, tears came as he talked about a young student who came to him while he was president of Concordia Theological Seminary (1962-1969), then in Springfield, Ill.

    Because of poor grades, the young man was threatened with dismissal. “But he said to me, ‘I know I’ll never be a great theologian or a great leader. But all my life, all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a pastor of a small parish. That’s really all I want.'”

    Wiping his tears, Preus finished, “And that’s what he is.”

    “‘Remember Your Leaders…’ There is much to remember about the late Dr. J. A. O. Preus. And for many, he won’t be soon forgotten.”
    The Lutheran Witness
    October 1994

  4. Rev James Kusko
    June 10th, 2012 at 20:10 | #4

    Pastor Wurst: “DISCLAIMER: As the author, I do not place any blame on the men who now serve in the preaching office who went through and (sic) alternate route instead of going to the seminary. It’s not your fault!”

    It’s so good to know that ‘it’s not my fault’. Second class but at least it’s not my fault!

    I admit that the course load for the MDiv route is greater than the Alternate Route, but most of that is in historical theology and practical theology, and the requirement for Hebrew. The Alternate Route does require however a minimum of ten years of significant experience related directly to Word and Sacrament ministry within The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (elder, lector, evangelism caller, Bible class teacher, etc.). Perhaps that can be applied to Practical Theology.

    You also said, “I must say that learning at home and discussing theology for a couple of hours with your pastor is not the same as being submerged in the doctrine and living it out in worship every day.” I’m not sure where you’re coming from. Perhaps you are confusing “alternate routes” with the Alternate Route program. We were on campus for two years (including summers), not studying remotely as you imply, and we were in chapel every day. Our work load in the two year’s we studied at the seminary was usually 4-5 classes a quarter whereas the MDiv students usually had only 3 classes a quarter.

    It really comes down to what law you want to apply that says what a man must learn and how he must learn it. Who is to say that the MDiv load is enough? Why limit it to just three years with a year of vicarage? Wouldn’t 5 years be better? Why stop there?

  5. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 10th, 2012 at 20:43 | #5

    Dr. J. A. O. Preus (1920-94) & Dr. Eugene F. A. Klug (1917-2003)…

    Klug: [Question asked about the dissolution of the intensive Synodical system of educating ministers, including the prep schools and Concordia Senior College feeding into the seminaries.]

    Preus: This system was working pretty well up until the 1960s. And two or three decisions were made, which on the face of them did not appear at all important, and yet were ultimately all important.

    One was the permission of the Synod to create a four year college at St. Paul, followed a little later by an almost no ripple action at all to create one at Bronxville. And the eternal drum beating of all the colleges—Winfield, Milwaukee and everybody, even Portland, Austin—to have four year colleges. Every four year college is not only a nail in the coffin of the Senior College, it’s the cover of the coffin.

    And then a second decision was made that received no attention whatsoever. And that was somebody, I suppose the BHE, gave permission to the St. Louis seminary, in the last years of Fuerbringer, to go out and recruit on non-Synodical campuses.

    It totally killed the system. That Senior College has been bludgeoned from both sides. And the worst part about it is that the action to permit St. Louis to go out into the highways and the hedges was agreed to by the Senior College. They didn’t even fight it. And those two actions killed this system.

    Klug: Is it possible that we could recapture any part of that system?

    Preus: It seems to me that to look for the recreation of the system is like hoping for the return of the horse and buggy age or the Model T era. It was a great time, everybody liked those Model Ts. But I don’t think we’ll ever get the country to go back to them. I don’t think the Synod will ever go back to the system. There’s not enough people who love it.

    I think that the great desire in Synod—and fanned by the efforts of the presidents and faculties and boards of control of the colleges—is for a string of four year colleges all feeding into Springfield and St. Louis. But I think what is really creating the problem is the failure of the prep schools—at all levels except the teachers colleges—is the failure of the prep schools to recruit men for the ministry. They’re recruiting pre-med and pre-law and pre-business and pre-marriage and everything else, but they’re not recruiting preachers.

    “You and Your Synod—Present Issues Between the Synod and Other Lutherans”
    Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois
    1975

  6. Mark Schulz
    June 10th, 2012 at 22:44 | #6

    Did Timothy attend Fort Wayne or St. Louis?

  7. Lumpenkönig
    June 10th, 2012 at 22:47 | #7

    You cannot discuss seminary education without considering the merits of online education in general. What do employers in the business world think about online education? Do they think it is a joke, a fad, or path that is equal to obtaining a traditional degree at a “brick and mortar” school.

    Seminary or bust? How about seminary and bust? Why does an LCMS seminary degree cause poverty? How can an aspiring pastor start his $32,000 a year career with $500 in monthly student loan repayments?

    Why do so many district presidents promote the SMPP? How is this program an improvement upon previous distance-Ed programs?

  8. Mark Schulz
    June 10th, 2012 at 23:18 | #8

    I made kind of a flip comment – but decided a more serious response was in order.

    I truly fail to see why people are so concerned about the SMP program. Let me tell you why.

    We’ve got some really smart pastors in my circuit. Imagine you have a guy – who has shown some real theological aptitude – and has been hanging around for five years with someone like Tim Rossow. That guy commits to spend 10-20 hours a week with Pastor Rossow for the next four years. They’ll go on hospital calls together, write sermons, teach Bible classes and the new member catechism class. They’ll process theologically the current events around them. Basically, Pastor Rossow commits to pour himself into this guy and see that he is solid and understands what it means to be a pastor.

    At the same time, this guy is going to spend a few hours each week in an online classroom with some of the best minds in the LCMS. People like Dr. Rast, Dr. Just, Dr. Arand, and Dr. Gibbs. They will give him things to read, papers to write, and activities to do. They, or other seminary colleagues, will conduct for him the same Theological Interview the M.Div. guys at the seminary had to go through. Oh, and once a year they will spend an intensive week together at one of the seminary campuses.

    Do you really think this guy won’t be a good pastor when he gets done with these four years? Just to be on the safe side, he as to commit to spend the rest of his ministry working under Pastor Rossow’s supervision (or another pastor like Pastor Rossow, but only if the District President agrees that the new pastor will be as diligent as Pastor Rossow in supervising this pastor).

    I personally believe that the SMP program is capable of producing competent, solid pastors for the church.

  9. JunkerGeorg
    June 11th, 2012 at 00:50 | #9

    What causes me great concern is not merely the SMP program in itself, or any other alternative route to the ministry, but rather, the kind of character of men it may attract, that is, in men who ‘could’ have made the sacrifices necessary to get the best education/formation available (i.e., seminary) for the sake of serving Christ’s flock as faithfully and pastorally as possible, but instead chose an easier/faster route to the ministry. For sure, there may be some men who have legitimate obstacles which cannot be overcome in order to attend seminary as a full-time resident, but as we’re starting to see in the case of the new SMP program (e.g., the recent SMP enrollee who happens to be Megadeth’s bassist, whose apparent “obstacle” is that he is playing on tour with the band, supposedly doing some of his program on his tour bus while on tour), there may be many cases where they really could have gone to seminary but chose “easy street.” If you really fear and love Christ and His Sheep, wouldn’t you want to get the best preparation possible for the sake of best serving His sheep?

  10. Pastor John Wurst
    June 11th, 2012 at 05:35 | #10

    @“LC-MS Quotes” #1

    I love it! Where can these quotes be found? Downloaded?

  11. Pastor John Wurst
    June 11th, 2012 at 05:39 | #11

    Rev James Kusko :

    You also said, “I must say that learning at home and discussing theology for a couple of hours with your pastor is not the same as being submerged in the doctrine and living it out in worship every day.” I’m not sure where you’re coming from. Perhaps you are confusing “alternate routes” with the Alternate Route program. We were on campus for two years (including summers), not studying remotely as you imply, and we were in chapel every day. Our work load in the two year’s we studied at the seminary was usually 4-5 classes a quarter whereas the MDiv students usually had only 3 classes a quarter.

    My apologies. I was referring to the SMPP and other “alternate routes.” Please forgive me for the confusion.

  12. Pastor John Wurst
    June 11th, 2012 at 05:41 | #12

    @Lumpenkönig #7

    I know full well the impact of your statement “seminary AND bust!” However, I do not agree that one can compare online learning in the business world with online learning of theology.

    As for the merits of the SMPP program, there are none.

  13. Jason
    June 11th, 2012 at 05:43 | #13

    @JunkerGeorg #9

    Luke: Is the Dark Side stronger?

    Yoda: No… no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

  14. Pastor John Wurst
    June 11th, 2012 at 05:45 | #14

    @Mark Schulz #8

    Is it Pr. Schulz? Mark you make a good point. Dr. Rossow is a faithful man who takes the necessary time PLUS the wanted additional time to do it right.

    Now, I would like to ask you to reflect on your response but then insert a liberal pastor into the situation where the big screens, power points, dancers, open communion, women readers, women communion assistants are present, campfire songs are sung and let me know how the SMPP candidate is going to fair?

    On the one hand, you have a promising candidate and the other, you have total destruction of a man who may have had a good heart to begin with.

  15. Pastor John Wurst
    June 11th, 2012 at 05:47 | #15

    @JunkerGeorg #9

    You are so correct. I know a man in the SMPP program. The only reason he is going the SMPP route is because his wife refused to go to semniary.

  16. Rev. Roderick Schultz
    June 11th, 2012 at 06:50 | #16

    I am not a fan of the SMPP for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest problems that I see with the SMPP is that it created a limited office or a conditional ordination. In other words, an SMP guy is only a pastor at a “specific” location.

    Also, just for the purpose of discussion, I have seen young men who have done it by the book. They have gone through a CUS school, through seminary, only to self-destruct because they lacked the maturity/experience/patience necessary to deal with the many pressures thrust upon them when they arrived at their first parish. This is not necessarily an endorsement of the Alternate Route Program, but I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss it out of hand as inadequate.

    Who would you prefer to see in a parish, a man who meets the traditional educational requirements but fits your description above: “big screens, power points, dancers, open communion, women readers, women communion assistants are present, campfire songs are sung” OR an Alt. RTE. guy that is traditional, confessional, liturgical, etc.? I’ve seen both!

  17. Mark Schulz
    June 11th, 2012 at 07:33 | #17

    Pastor John Wurst :
    @Mark Schulz #8
    Is it Pr. Schulz? Mark you make a good point. Dr. Rossow is a faithful man who takes the necessary time PLUS the wanted additional time to do it right.
    Now, I would like to ask you to reflect on your response but then insert a liberal pastor into the situation where the big screens, power points, dancers, open communion, women readers, women communion assistants are present, campfire songs are sung and let me know how the SMPP candidate is going to fair?
    On the one hand, you have a promising candidate and the other, you have total destruction of a man who may have had a good heart to begin with.

    And there we have it! The real issue with SMP is not whether distance learning works or not (it does) or whether residential seminary education is commanded by scripture or even necessary for forming pastors (it’s not). The real issue is control. The church at large has control over who teaches at the seminary (in theory). The church at large SHOULD have control over who mentors SMP students and the context in which they are mentored. This is supposed to happen at the district level through the screening of candidates and SMP contexts by the district presidents. If we could assure the church that is happening faithfully, I believe many of the problems people have with SMP would go away.

    Throughout the history of God’s church He has formed faithful and competent pastors in many different ways, residential seminary education being only one of them. Let’s not make the SMP program (or DELTO or any other program) the scapegoat while the real issue remains – there are issues that deeply divide us and controlling who pastors the churches of the LCMS and what they do about those issues is THE issue.

  18. Rev. Weinkauf
    June 11th, 2012 at 07:55 | #18

    “For centuries, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has held four criteria for a man seeking the preaching office. Those four areas are 1) Education, 2) Examination, 3) Call, and 4) Ordination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church has historically used the seminary to accomplish these tasks.”

    Actually, this is the Biblical, historical model of the Church throughout the ages. Jesus ran a residential seminary. Just ask the Twelve, then Matthias, and on…

    l would encourage everyone to not use the term ” lay minister” which is oxymoron, a man-invented office. Of course if congregations/pastors hold to their unconditional vows of AC XIV, the only real question is item #1. How much education? Americans have an incessant desire for it to be quick, easy, convenient. Notice too how some will argue regarding individual results and attributes. (Look at what this residential seminary grad has done, look at how brilliant this delto guy, etc.) If someone makes millions and never goes to college, or one with a doctorate committs felonies, do we question the how/what/where amount of education they need to receive? Our church needs to agree upon how much education is needed, and hopefully it is more than what is required to teach high school algebra; because they are needing to rightly divide the Word of truth, the care of souls that deal with matters of eternal peril. If heart surgeons, lawyers need the amount of education as AR routes, just how comfortable are you when you need their services? Then you realize those who argue for less/easy ways really have a low view of the Office of the Holy Ministry and lack a true, deep love for those who will receive their pastoral work.

    We are incarnational people of an incarnational God. Can students be taught at the other end of a computer? Sure, but the best place to form theologians is at the seminary.

  19. Rev. Weinkauf
    June 11th, 2012 at 08:02 | #19

    @Mark Schulz #17
    “Throughout the history of God’s church He has formed faithful and competent pastors in many different ways, residential seminary education being only one of them.”

    Huh? Do you have any citations for such a claim? I am unaware of any historical evidence in the church to support such a statement.

  20. Mark Schulz
    June 11th, 2012 at 08:58 | #20

    @Rev. Weinkauf #19

    I would argue that what Jesus did with his disciples was more like what happens in the SMP program than today’s residential seminary education.

    As far as a citation for the claim that throughout history the Church has raised up pastors without a residential seminary education, how about Paul taking Timothy and Silas with him on his missionary journey and training them on the job?

  21. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 11th, 2012 at 09:17 | #21

    Dr. Robert Preus (1924-95)…[President Preus and the Springfield seminary faculty establish the practice of conducting the Seminary IV Theological Interview (TI).]

    “Last week–I don’t remember the day–I met with about this number of people on your student request, I think it was, of the seniors that the faculty give you a kind of interview theologically. And I might just announce that the faculty is going to do this. We just had a meeting this afternoon. So I hope this makes all of you happy and doesn’t threaten any of you, because it certainly isn’t designed to threaten anybody but only to encourage all of you. And I think the faculty looks forward to this. They think it a great privilege to hear whatever testimony and witness you seniors might want to give. So please take it in that spirit. That’s the only spirit in which, I think, the students came in with the resolution and that’s the only spirit with which the faculty will try to carry out your wishes. This applies only to seniors, however.”

    “Happenings in St. Louis, 1974″
    Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, IL
    1976

    Faculty: G. Aho, H. Buls, H. Eggold, D. Hartmann, O. Hintze, W. Houser, H. Huth, D. Judisch, H. Kadai, E. Klug, F. Kramer, M. Luebke, W. Maier, A. Nauss, F. Precht, R. Preus, D. Reuning, D. Scaer, A. Schmidt, M. Sernett, O. Stahlke, B. Steege, M. Steege, R. Surburg, H. Tepker, J. Voelz, W. Weinrich, D. Wenthe, W. Wilbert.

  22. helen
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:12 | #22

    @Pastor John Wurst #15
    You are so correct. I know a man in the SMPP program. The only reason he is going the SMPP route is because his wife refused to go to seminary.

    Great! Is his wife guaranteed the placement of her choice afterward? :(

  23. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:20 | #23

    Dr. Robert Preus (1924-95)…

    “I’ve been taught recently that there are three great attributes or three great principles in education. I’m glad that Wilbert isn’t here because he’d probably disagree with me. One, you know everything about the subject. That’s what we look for when we try to call a professor here. Secondly, you are totally committed and enthused about your subject, whether it be the Voelzonian Greek or the Marquartian apologetics. And third, you’ve got some organization.”

    “Happenings in St. Louis, 1974″
    Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, IL
    1976

    Warren N. Wilbert, Christian Education (1958-86); James Voelz, Biblical Studies–New Testament (1975-89); Kurt Erik Marquart , Systematic Theology (1975-2006).

  24. Rev. Weinkauf
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:41 | #24

    @Mark Schulz #20
    Thank you, you have shown my point with the first disciples and first apostles. These were full-time students who studied at the feet of a theologian for years before they were on their own. Holy Scripture plainly shows this both Old and New testament, the OHM is a full time, lifetime vocational Call, leaving behind their previous vocation, “leaving your plow in the field” then studying, serving full time. Matthew wasn’t still doing taxes on the side. The whole part time student, part worker-priest is not something you can support by Scripture or any place in the historical church. Sure Paul made tents on his spare time but his motive he cites is against antagonists, not a ministry model. BECAUSE the Scriptural model, look at what the entire Church on earth did throughout the centuries- full-time students who were educated, doctorinal examinations, called and ordained.

  25. Mark Schulz
    June 11th, 2012 at 11:07 | #25

    @Rev. Weinkauf #24
    But the men in the SMP program with whom I work have indeed left behind their previous vocation, and are full time, studying at the feet of a theologian (with the help of other theologians from the seminary) exactly as you describe while involved in daily ministry. Truly what they are experiencing is more like the New Testament model than a residential seminary student.

  26. Rev. McCall
    June 11th, 2012 at 11:35 | #26

    @Mark Schulz #25
    Which ones have left their previous vocations? All the ones I have met and heard of continue in their jobs while studying in their spare time. The rational for one St. Louis SMPP student was that “Construction on the interstate would not allow him to commute to the seminary as expediently as he would like, so therefore he needed to be SMPP.” Has the Megadeth musician given up his vocation as a rock star? Absolutely not! He in fact relishes that he can have a foot in both worlds. All are selfish, cheap excuses that IMHO demean those men who took their studies seriously and gave up all in order to pursue their education in a residential setting.
    Speaking of Scripture, where in Scripture or the Confessions do we have levels and ranks of ordained men? Why must an ordained pastor (SMPP) still be under the supervision of another (M.Div.) pastor? Why must some men finish their education entirely before being ordained (M.Div.) while others may be ordained prior to completion of their studies (SMPP)?

  27. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 11th, 2012 at 12:24 | #27

    Constitution of The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States

    Article I
    6. Unified spreading of the kingdom of God, and [the] possibility and advancement of special church objectives (seminary, agenda, hymnal, Book of Concord, school books, Bible distribution, mission work inside and outside the church, etc.).

    Article II
    5. Proper (not temporary) call of the preacher and proper election of the delegates through the congregation, as well as the integrity of the moral life of the preacher and the delegates.

    A New Look at an Old Document: German/English Edition of the 1847 Constitution of
    The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States
    Translated and edited by Jack D. Ferguson
    Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly
    Spring 2012

  28. Uncle Milo
    June 11th, 2012 at 14:07 | #28

    @Rev. McCall #26
    Rev McCall, was that really the rationale of the SMP student in St Louis? That sounds more like urban myth than something that was actually expressed.

    I don’t begrudge anyone their reservation to non-residential programs, but I don’t believe the argument is strengthened by inaccurate rumors. If you do have documented knowledge of that quote, I do apologize, and that would be troublesome.

  29. Rev. McCall
    June 11th, 2012 at 16:12 | #29

    @Uncle Milo #28
    That was the rational that individual gave to a seminarian in St. Louis. Due to the construction on I-40 it would have been too difficult for him to commute and take part in a residential program so he entered the SMPP, even though his church was less than 20 minutes from the seminary. I had no reason to doubt the seminarian who told me so, but I would be happy to attempt to track down the SMPP student who supposedly said such. One of his supervisors is a classmate of mine so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

  30. rev. david l. prentice jr.
    June 11th, 2012 at 17:40 | #30

    @JunkerGeorg #9
    I just have to comment here, perhaps the bassist can get more rockers to Christ, eh? And the kind of men comment? In reality, both sides produce good men, and both sides (or all sides produce bad men). SMP, DELTO, classic route, whatever, it is what the men make of themselves when they are ordained. Do they take that ordination for real, and the vows that come with it?

  31. Nathan Redman
    June 11th, 2012 at 18:10 | #31

    @Pastor John Wurst #14

    So has this never happened to a pastor who went to seminary? Why is it that all the pastors in my area aren’t very theologically sound, besides my pastor – in my opinion. Who is shaping the pastors coming out of seminary? I think pastors should attend seminary but it’s fairly obvious even to me that some shape their church they way they want.

  32. Pastor John Wurst
    June 11th, 2012 at 18:27 | #32

    @Nathan Redman #31

    Nathan, Thank you for your comment. I want to reiderate that it’s not the fault of the man who goes into the SMPP. There is nothing more valuable than seminary residency. The SMPP is short-cutting the training of future pastors.

    You’re correct that there are men, who leave the seminary, and turn the congregation given to them to serve into a house of liberal theology and false worship. I believe there needs to be more diligence by the DPs, the Circuit Counselors, and brother pastors to monitor and enforce the Word of God in our Lord’s Church.

  33. R.D.
    June 11th, 2012 at 23:53 | #33

    @helen #22
    It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes ever (adapted): “…but the unmistakeable nudge from his wife’s sharp elbow seals his seminary application behind silent lips!”

  34. Uncle Milo
    June 12th, 2012 at 08:50 | #34

    @Rev. McCall #29
    Thanks for the reply, Rev. M. I’d hope he was speaking tongue-in-cheek, but that’s too bad to hear.

  35. The PPPadre
    June 12th, 2012 at 09:13 | #35

    @Mark Schulz #25
    The SMP program you describe certainly seems quite good. But that is not the SMP program that was described to convention delegates when the program was implemented. The whole point of the SMP program (as it was described/sold to convention) was to provide training for those who were already serving small, poor, remote congregations – congregations so remote no ordained pastor could come fill in during a vacancy. (If these congregations are too remote for any ordained clergy to fill in, are they not also too remote for an ordained pastor adept at mentoring an SMP candidate to spend 10-20 hours/week in hands-on instruction?)

    The SMP program you describe is the program that was said by presenters from the dias would/should never happen – large, multi-staff parishes in-breeding pastors to further parochialize the parish and draw it away from the Church catholic.

    You are correct in pointing out that the SMP Program is more of a symptom of other issues that divide us. I am particularly disturbed at the lack of Seminary input regarding admission into the program. Not that the Seminaries are infallible at ascertaining those who have the theological/attitudinal aptitude for being pastors, but they are well practiced and specifically tasked for that purpose. Admission to the SMP program (as I understand it) merely requires assent of the DP, however he chooses to decide such matters, and such decisions are not subject to review. Some will sign every application that comes in, others will interview and practice higher levels of discernment. I would be a lot more comfortable with the program if there were a more consistent standard for admission and a more consistent standard for completion. The greater the number of organizations/people making those decisions independent of one another, the less consistency there will be in applying standards and expectations.

  36. Walter Troeger
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:23 | #36

    helen :
    @Pastor John Wurst #15
    You are so correct. I know a man in the SMPP program. The only reason he is going the SMPP route is because his wife refused to go to seminary.
    Great! Is his wife guaranteed the placement of her choice afterward?

    I wonder if his wife will refuse their first call too after graduation…oh wait, there is no call. They are placed…

  37. “LC-MS Quotes”
    June 12th, 2012 at 20:48 | #37

    Dr. Robert Preus (1924-95)…

    “We have about every year here a couple of cases where a woman won’t go where her husband is called unless she can get a position with IBM. She’s a career woman. And she probably was a career woman before her husband decided to go into the ministry. So she feels somewhat cheated. And he goes into the ministry. And then she has to go off to Mayville, North Dakota, to get a job where she cannot possibly do what she has gone through college–possibly even a master’s degree–to do. And she has gone into marriage with that idea.”

    “Dr. & Mrs. Robert Preus Speaking On Life In the Parsonage”
    Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN
    1988

  38. JunkerGeorg
    June 12th, 2012 at 23:36 | #38

    @Rev David L Prentice Jr., #30

    I just have to comment here, perhaps the bassist can get more rockers to Christ, eh? And the kind of men comment? In reality, both sides produce good men, and both sides (or all sides produce bad men). SMP, DELTO, classic route, whatever, it is what the men make of themselves when they are ordained. Do they take that ordination for real, and the vows that come with it?

    —-

    Well, technically, “getting more rockers to Christ” is the Holy Spirit’s job, ala Article V. (Yeah, I know, your alternative route didn’t really spend much time on the Augustana. Kind of gets in the way of the ‘missional’ stuff that is important, right?) I’d be much more hopeful that rockers would be led to Christ rather than some false one would that millionaire bassist be more fully immersed in Christology via the Seminary route. As for the kind of men comment, yes, I stand by my comment: I do question the character of anyone who ‘could’ have taken the seminary route but opted for the quicker route. Not a hard thing to comprehend, well, at least except for you apparently.

  39. Mark Schulz
    June 13th, 2012 at 06:40 | #39

    The PPPadre :
    @Mark Schulz #25
    I am particularly disturbed at the lack of Seminary input regarding admission into the program. Not that the Seminaries are infallible at ascertaining those who have the theological/attitudinal aptitude for being pastors, but they are well practiced and specifically tasked for that purpose. Admission to the SMP program (as I understand it) merely requires assent of the DP, however he chooses to decide such matters, and such decisions are not subject to review. Some will sign every application that comes in, others will interview and practice higher levels of discernment. I would be a lot more comfortable with the program if there were a more consistent standard for admission and a more consistent standard for completion. The greater the number of organizations/people making those decisions independent of one another, the less consistency there will be in applying standards and expectations.

    For the record – an SMP student must follow the same admissions process as a normal M.Div student. The seminary plays the same role in their admission.

  40. PPPadre
    June 13th, 2012 at 12:01 | #40

    Mark Schulz @ 39 :
    For the record – an SMP student must follow the same admissions process as a normal M.Div student. The seminary plays the same role in their admission.

    That was not the impression I had received from conversations with my DP and Seminary faculty members. Perhaps I misunderstood them, or possibly the program has been revised since those conversations. I will have to look into this aspect of the current program a little more thoroughly.

  41. Rev. McCall
    June 13th, 2012 at 14:02 | #41

    @PPPadre #40
    Mark Schulz’ statement is simply untrue. A quick look on CSL’s website shows that this is not the case. Glaringly obvious in the very first page is the fact that an SMPP need not posses a bachelors degree, one of the first steps for a traditional route M.Div. Feel free to look for yourselves online and compare the two. It is easy to see there is no comparison.

  42. Mark Schulz
    June 13th, 2012 at 15:13 | #42

    @Rev. McCall #41

    What I said is indeed true. We are talking about the admissions process – who decides admission – not the requirements for admission. Honestly, I do not know if a bachelor’s degree is required for eh SMP – since all four of the men I have mentored in the program had bachelor’s degrees on the transcripts they submitted to the seminary so the seminary could decide on their admission.

    I do know that not all students at the seminary have to have a bachelor’s degree. Only M.Div. and M.A. students. Colloquy students do not require a B.A. because they do not receive a degree – only ministry certification. They must pass the same entry level competency exams (Old Testament, New Testament, Christian Doctrine and Greek and Hebrew if needed).

    So to be clear – if a man wants admission to the SMP or the M.Div. programs at one of our seminaries, they must submit the same application for approval to the seminary in question, and must go through the same interview with their district. I know whereof I speak – as said above I have been the mentor pastor for four SMP students and as one of the Northern Illinois District Vice Presidents I have conducted the district interviews for both prospective SMP and M. Div. students. The SMP students must also pass the same entry level competency exams.

    You can disagree with the SMP program all you want, but it is unfair and untrue to say it is a different admission process. They submit a seminary application that is considered by the seminary. They interview in their district. They need to pass the competency exams. The seminary has the same ability and responsibility to say “no” to unqualified candidates.

  43. Pastor John Wurst
    June 13th, 2012 at 15:51 | #43

    @Rev. McCall #41

    Please understand, you do not need to have a 4 year degree to get into the seminary. I know Fort Wayne can take up to 1% of the incoming class without a degree.

  44. rev. david l. prentice jr.
    June 14th, 2012 at 12:42 | #44

    @“LC-MS Quotes” #37
    We have a tendency to abuse the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, agreed, HE does the opening of hearts, etc., BUT we also are working with and through HIM to bring people to Christ. And if the Holy Spirit decides to use me, you, or a bassist named Joe to bring the Word of God, so be it. Did you not forget the Law? Jesus does command us to “go out”, make disciples, etc. And we do this with the helper, the Holy Spirit at the lead, we do it out of our love for the Gospel, Christ in our hearts and minds.

    I cannot refute your character comment, this is the way you feel. Only time can settle that one.

  45. rev. david l. prentice jr.
    June 14th, 2012 at 14:52 | #45

    I was actually replying to the Junker named George. And I just did get the bash about study, we studied, trust me. I myself continue to study and attend Symposia and workshops when able.

    The sad part here is this, perhaps the alternate route guy knows when a circular argument must stop. I can refute your arguments over and over, yet when it is all done; You would not believe me anyway.

  46. August 9th, 2013 at 09:26 | #46

    On a side note: Why not distance learning and alternate route for women interested in the Deaconess program? It doesn’t seem fair that the seminaries allow this type of education for men pursuing the Holy Ministry and not women interested in the Deaconess program.

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