Seminary Classes, Golden Calves, and the Glory of Christ – by Matt Click, a Guest Blogger

You don’t have to book an international flight in order to witness pagan idol worship. 

After all, seminary tuition is much cheaper. 

In an era when Christian education is increasingly popular, especially with the rise of New Calvinism, it is easy to forget that golden calves are not always “over there” but can sometimes be “right here.” 

As a seminary student who is quickly approaching his graduation, I have lately been pondering what it means to glorify God in all things—particularly, in my studies and, especially, while attending my classroom lectures. Now while it is no surprise that a seminarian would ask, “How should I glorify God with my life?” yet it is not as easily apparent why he (or she) would need to inquire about such in relation to his theological studies. I mean, is it not overtly obvious that the Bible student deeply cares about the glory of God even in his learning? 

Nevertheless, in my own life, I have found it to be true that I am not always concerned about glorifying God precisely in the times when I ought to the most, in particular, when I am listening to a professor give a lecture about God, the Bible, and redemption. Indeed, there have been numerous times during my seminary career when, during a lecture, I was actually consumed by things other than the glory of Jesus Christ. 

In a very real sense, there were times when I stood at the foot of the glory-soaked mountain and yet chose to produce, and run after, cast metal objects. 

No earrings were used. Nor were there any engraving tools involved. In fact, from an observer’s standpoint, I may have even appeared as one who was enthralled by Christ, with my fast-paced, note-taking precision. And yet, I must admit, Christ was not always at the blazing center of my affections. Sometimes I murmured about the classroom temperature, moaned against the length and dryness of the lecture, complained that I had too much on my plate and could not afford to write another response paper. Grumble, grumble, grumble. 

At other times, though, I almost bowed in reverence to my teachers, because of their eloquent words and clever theorems. Can you hear the fashioning sounds of the hammer? 

And so with that, then, I ask: How shall a seminary student attend a class lecture for the glory of God? 

First of all, it is important to note (and be utterly convinced of the reality) that we are, as C. J. Mahaney is fond of saying, doing much better than we deserve. It is true. No boiling-hot classroom comes even close to the scorching-hot hell that I deserve for a life of rebellion against a perfect and holy God. Yet by his awesome and irresistible grace, I have been united to Christ in faith and forgiven of my sins. I have been made new. I am a child of the Most High and an heir of all his glorious promises. No amount of homework or dry lectures will annul this truth. 

Second, it is also imperative that we recognize that for all of the good lectures (and these, I believe, far outnumber the bad, at least at SBTS), even these things—good and glorious as those classes and their content may be—are but a dull and pale-like picture of what the true reality will actually be. At seminary, we aim to know Jesus Christ and him crucified. Yet during our exile here on earth, we only know him in part. But on that great Day, when we are caught up in the air with him, we will see him face-to-face. Now we see him dimly; then we will see him in the full splendor of his radiant glory. Therefore, we need not make too much of our classes. Nor should we idolize even our Bible-saturated, Christ-embracing professors—godly as they are. For our ultimate desire is Christ. He alone is the One whose voice and unfading perfections we wish to behold. 

Third and finally, all that we learn must overflow into white-hot worship for our King. The information and raw facts cannot remain hidden in our scribbled-up notebooks. Our systematic theology must become unrestrained doxology. Our history courses must allure us to the One who controls and orchestrates all of history. Our Greek and Hebrew ought to morph us into the kind of people who love and adore the eternal Logos. Our spiritual disciplines must magnify the One who relentlessly and without fail ordered his life to please God. In a nutshell, our seminary classes ought to lead us to a deeper appreciation and fuller passion for the Christ who loved us and gave himself up for us. 

Otherwise, we might as well quit seminary and just save up for an overseas plane ticket. 

Added by Brian: you can visit Matt Click’s site and stay informed on his upcoming graduation and move to China for the glory of Christ and the supremacy of His name amongst the nations, and the Clicks church planting efforts amongst the Chinese, here.

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One Response

  1. Matt, I am an undergrad in Biblical Studies, and looking ahead to seminary very soon. You have helped to affirm the conviction in my heart to not let this privilege and schooling become my focus. It is a good thing, but only when given over to the Eternal. Otherwise, it will perish like everything else.

    Thank you for your thoughts. I especially enjoyed, “Our systematic theology must become unrestrained doxology.” you captured a lot within this article. It should not be a new idea to seminarians and students that even education and ministry can become an idol. Yet you managed to bring this well-traveled principal to new light.

    Bradley B.
    http://bradblackburn.wordpress.com

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