Last year I returned to school and began to reflect on my time at Seminary and it’s impact on me, my family and my ministry. I thought I would share some “rules” that I’ve learned over my time. This is a series of posts, ten in total, that I will post over the next two weeks.
RULE #1 – Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid
RULE #2 – Avoid the Networking Trap
RULE #3 – Temper Everything with Scripture
RULE #4 – It’s Supposed to be Difficult
RULE #5 – Check your Pride at the Door
RULE #6 – Be Weary of Comparison
RULE #7 – Go to Class to Learn, Not Teach
RULE #8 – Think Critically, but Don’t be a Critic
While in class, it is always a good idea to process and think through what you’re hearing – just make sure you’re hearing for clarity! Often though, I hear things I don’t really understand – sometimes that is due to the lack of my intellectual skill, other times it is because the way it is being explained doesn’t make much sense. Either way, I would never suggest to you to blindly agree with whatever your professor may say. That’s why this rule is in place, you should think – and think critically without becoming a critic! I covered that already in RULE #1.
At any rate, during a lecture, if you hear something you disagree with or are wanting to explore more, I might suggest approaching your professor after class and simply ask them how they came to that conclusion or thought. Every professor I have approached has always encouraged me to continue to think critically, and then has been more than gracious to suggest articles or books to read-up on the subject. This really is the “fun” work of Seminary training, doing research and thinking outside of class.
The temptation in Seminary is to hear something from a professor and automatically become a critic of them merely because you disagree with them. I don’t think disagreeing with someone is a valid reason to be critical of that person. We should be more gracious than that… especially in Seminary. If you take the time to tease out your thoughts on a subject, you can expect your professor to sit with you and hear you out – just make sure your arguments make sense. Seminary is for thinking clearly and critically, but not set up to become a critic.
The Latin phrase goes like this: In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas - In necessary things unity; in uncertain things liberty, in everything charity. This is a much appropriate posture to approach when in the class.