Why should women attend seminary?
Faith Baptist Theological Seminary
Why Should Women Attend Seminary?
June S. Delnay. M.L.S.
"Women in seminary? Who ever heard of such a thing?" A few years ago a woman probably would have gotten that disgusted response had she suggested attending some seminaries. In fact, twenty-five years ago, one might have had the impression that many seminaries looked on women as second-class citizens. Because she taught several home Bible classes for women and longed to be better versed in the Word and in the original languages, a friend of mine, as recently as four years ago, pled with a seminary dean to permit her to enroll in an all-male seminary. He put her off as though she were a child asking for the impossible dream. But today some of our best evangelical schools are providing special seminary courses for women and are actively recruiting women in Christian service.
And why not? I am acquainted with a young woman who recently graduated from one of our GARBC-approved Bible colleges and desired to get an MA in Biblical Studies, but was not able to find a suitable seminary. And she is not alone. Many women just out of college or veterans of parsonages or a mission field are eager for a year of graduate work in Bible or theology.
This is where Faith Baptist Theological Seminary enters the picture. It is the goal of our seminary to equip Christian workers, people called of God, to be effective communicators for Jesus Christ, both men and women. We are confident that women who take our courses will be more effective in their various fields of service.
I. Intellectual Stimulation
One of the advantages of this advanced training is the mental stimulation that it provides. After several years of giving out to others, it is refreshing to get back into the classroom, to enter into discussions with teachers and fellow students, to be required to think, to define, and to defend, both orally and in writing. Those who have been confronted with such things as Liberation Theology, New Age, secular humanism, or any of the current cults will derive satisfaction from courses in Current Theological Trends or Contemporary Christianity, the satisfaction of having some answers which they did not possess before. Any thinking woman will benefit from research and be challenged by producing papers form her own research. Since the market is being flood with humanistic and Marxist literature, we know that fundamentalist Christianity needs good writers, and what better way to break into writing than to start in seminary?
II. Teaching Ability
Mental refreshment from a year of seminary, yes. But another result of seminary is the increased ability and God-given confidence in teaching. I think there is no one who has ever regretted advanced training or who has not said to herself, "My classes have benefited from the training which I have received," or "I have so much more to offer my students." Our course, Ministry of Teaching, is "a study of the Gospels' accounts of Jesus' teaching ministry, with a systematic attempt to draw from them an upper-level pedagogy that the student can use." Any woman teaching young people or women will be richer for the time spent in these classes, and having studied various books of the Bible, she will be more confident in her subject matter. Our professors use a variety of teaching methods, and these, too, may be adapted for more effective teaching. The theology courses are offered to increase understanding of theological emphases today and to give our students a basis for evaluating their own doctrinal beliefs. Yes, women need these as well as men.
III. Spiritual Life
But in addition to experiencing mental stimulation and gaining greater teaching abilities, a woman may expect to be enriched spiritually through her study at seminary. Some seminarians have been known to lose their zeal and love for God. However, it need not be so, and our staff strives to keep that from happening. Chapels provide sound preaching and encouragement, drawing on pastors, missionaries, teachers, and youth workers. This semester I enjoyed the privilege of listening to Marth Jongwaard, veteran missionary to Austria , relate in chapel how God is working in Vienna in response to believing prayer and faith in the promises of God. Seminarians that day were moved by her message. Recently a chaplain working here in Iowa in a prison ministry challenged men and women to look into penal work. Frequently chapel is given over to prayer and praise, at which time students and faculty share what God is doing in their lives. This gives opportunity, too, to bear one another's burdens and to pray for their needs. Coldness in seminary? Not at Faith. Besides the vitality of chapel, the study of the Scripture warms the heart. The Bible is handled as the very Word by which we live, and not as a textbook to dissect and appraise. What an opportunity to have time to pore over the Word of God, to prepare Bible studies, and to participate in class discussions, giving God the opportunity to speak to one's own heart.
We believe that seminary is a good place for women in Christian service to be refreshed mentally, to sharpen their teaching and writing skills, and to come apart for a while for spiritual challenge and growth. Faith welcomes women and prays that God will raise up women from our school who will leave a mark on their generation by their zeal and effectiveness in presenting Christ to the world.