As I read the opening editorial in the most recent Concordia Journal (page 10 or 346 here) from the St. Louis Seminary I was pleased to find the president, Dale Meyer, defending residency seminary education. He writes a stirring description of life for seminarians in an urban setting at the St. Louis campus and it is worth the read.
This is quite ironic (or maybe purposeful) since just last week President Kieschnick met with President Meyer and President Wenthe in Ft. Wayne to noodle the idea of closing down the seminaries and instead remaking pastoral education to be done in some sort of drive-by style combination of on-line courses and a few seminars at one of the Concordias, colleges that is, not seminaries.
Kudos to President Meyer. We have been critical of the seminaries, joining in with our cartoonist Scott Blazek in referring to the seminary professors as dust bunnies. In this editorial however, President Meyer takes an excellent stand on a timely issue. We would appreciate Dale Meyer being a little more direct. He never mentions the threat of closing down the seminaries but clearly this is a defense of on-site, residency based seminary education.
This is an important issue. How would you like your doctor to perform surgery on you based on a few on-line courses? If your MD messes up you only pay for it temporally. How would you like your pastor to operate on your soul based on a few on-line courses? If your M Div messes up you pay for it for eternity. (M Div refers to the Master of Divinity degree awarded to seminary graduates.)
There were some troubling aspects to the editorial. President Meyer announced a new program of joint work with the adjacent Fontbonne College. That is fine except that it is a Roman Catholic school To his credit President Meyer is quick to point out that the sharing is only in non-theological areas. That’s good but I just can’t imagine Martin Luther or C. F. W. Walther proposing any sort of joint work with a Roman Catholic college.
One of the proposals is the seminarians take some business courses at Fontbonne. I think it is good for seminarians to learn the basics of goal setting and how to create and manage a program in the parish where helpful to the Gospel but this is the least of our problems. Our problems in the LCMS are not of a practical, business nature but of a theological nature.
Thank you President Meyer for defending residency seminary training. Keep it up. We encourage you to be a little more direct but this is certainly a start toward the “dust bunnies” rising up and hopefully becoming a herd of stampeding “jackelopes” running over the proposals to close the seminaries, stampeding the BRTFSG proposals, and ultimately trampling the non-Lutheran Ablaze movement.
Note: For those of you unfamiliar with the “jackelope,” it ain’t no dust bunny! It is a mythic character, the product of some early photo-shop work that combined a jack-rabbit with an antelope. It was a fearsome looking character. It was seen on countless vacaton postcards mailed home from the great west back in the 60’s and 70’s. I think you can still find them in various tourist traps out west.