Monday, December 5, 2016

Babylonian Captivity of Theological Education

Since the Early Period of Christian history, the world has presented an almost inescapable allurement of dry logic or fake glory to divine faith. The world challenges faith to fight with it on its worldly ground, the ground of space-time reason (which apologists, sadly, find very compelling). On the one hand are the contextualists who try to localize revelation in terms of contexts, which attempts, most of which, have certainly been quite helpful, though some idolatrously inclusive. But, nothing has been more devastating to the cause of theological education than the allurement of the secular "university" system in modern times. In 1520, Martin Luther talked about the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. The Protestant Church soon forgot the lesson as it continued to be enamored with the gods of the surrounding nations, the gods of Enlightenment, Scientism, and Modernism. The chief warriors who fell to this honey-trap were theological professors who wished to appear as intellectual, modern, and educated as possible. The effects of liberalism have continued on to post-liberalism and beyond to the extent that in recent times, theologians have expressed concerns regarding the Babylonian captivity of theological education.

Sadly, Pentecostal and Charismatic seminaries have not been very successful in resisting the temptation of pseudo-intellectualism. Theological books and popular apologetics have advertised secular tools that can be used, to the extent that the ministry and role of the Holy Spirit has become extra-curricular, and dispensable. No longer is it the Holy Spirit that guides us into the truth. Degrees and diplomas are the modern idols. Recognition and accreditation are the goals. Despisal of unassociated training centers are the modern fiery darts of the enemy against faith. And, those who have failed to know who they are, where they stand, and what they are called to, have fallen in for the devil's tactics.

Of course, there is also a vile plethora of mammon-serving, fake, theological centers. Association and co-working is, certainly, important. However, association that sidelines the Holy Spirit and reduces the supernatural to mere pulpit preaching and emotional altar-calls is anti-biblical.

Then, there are myriads of false prophets, miracle claimers, pseudo-workers who gamble on the emotions and vulnerabilities of theologically illiterate masses. Crowds love convincing stories and the weak are easily deceived. Right theological education will expose both false theology and false spirituality.

Jesus trained His disciples and sent them to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead. True and power-filled preaching of the Gospel wrecks the devil's plans and holdings. But, seminaries under Babylonian captivity are confused about what the Gospel is; they emphasize on a curriculum that has less to do with Biblical understanding; they de-emphasize the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, and if they emphasize, it's just dry talk and impractical; they are suspicious of testimonies regarding the supernatural; they are not open to the gifts and operation of the Holy Spirit in all His fullness suspecting that these are dangerous and a threat to the consistency that they think can only be found in the pure academic mind of the intelligentsia; they ridicule and mock at any excitement shown regarding the supernatural. They favor intellectual elitism. As a result, all preaching is dry; the only momentary stimulation is in the clever interplay of words, voice, pace, gesture, and captivating story-telling; the topics of interest: counseling, faith, motivation, inspiration, and such. All the while, true reality (the supernatural) is disregarded and this-worldliness is emphasized. There is silence about heaven and hell, judgment, and the Second Coming. Dreams and visions are ignored. Supernatural encounters are unheard. Gifts are limited to speaking in tongues, some healing and miracles (and more emphasis on the medical), doubtful prophecies...

But, the Gospel is not just a mere cogitation and communication of ideas; it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. We need theological training centers that are Spirit-filled, Scripturally sound, and Service-oriented (i.e. doing the work of Christ as He did).

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