Who Will Train the Churches’ Ministers? Dec.1, 2014 “Standard Bearer”

StandardBearerThe new issue of The Standard Bearer is printed and arriving through the mail, as we received ours yesterday. The December 1, 2014 issue contains a variety of interesting and instructive articles again, covering multiple rubrics.

In it you will find articles such as a meditation on “Joy in Affliction” (James 1:2-4) by Rev.J.Slopsema; an “All Around Us” piece by Rev.M.McGeown that covers the recent subpoena of Houston pastors’ sermons by her mayor; an on-going Bible study guide on Ecclesiastes by Rev.T.Miersma; an article on the covenant home by Rev.A. den Hartog; Rev.D.Engelsma’s second installment on Premillennialism; another piece by Rev.B.Huizinga on spiritual warfare especially for young people; and a book review by Aaron Cleveland on a title by R.C.Sproul relating to Roman Catholicism – all edifying material.

In this post I highlight Prof.B.Gritters’ editorial, which consists of part two (printed) of the speech he gave in September for the PRC Seminary convocation. His article carries that title given above, “Who Will Train the Churches’ Pastors? (with a good Dutch sub-title “The PRC Seminary: Door the kerk, Voor de kerk”, meaning “by the church, for the church”), and treats the significant struggle there has been in Reformed and Presbyterian churches to decide who best should train the ministers of the church – the church through its own seminary or some other para-church institution, such as a theological school at a university, or a private seminary alongside of the church?

After giving the Biblical reasons for defending the first position – that the church trains her own pastors through a seminary she supports and controls – Gritters writes about “reasons to be grateful” for our own PRC Seminary, one such ecclesiastical seminary. Here is one such reason:

The reader may forgive me for beginning with finances, but as one who takes his turn as rector of our seminary, I start expressing gratitude for reasons financial.

     An ecclesiastical seminary does not need to promote itself in order to raise its own financial support, as the independent seminaries do, often through their president or a hired director of “financial development.”  In our case, it may well fall to the rector.  Regularly I receive in the mail, sometimes from seminaries in dire financial straits, pleas for support lest they be unable to pay their bills—three requests just this month, and two in the last week.  Although we are aware of the need to be frugal—good stewards of God’s gifts to us—we professors do not have to bother our heads with finances.  At each annual synod, the churches commit to supply what is needed to finance our work.  Indeed, over and above this budgeted amount, generous donors often provide extra so that the seminary is able to do more than what is necessary.  We are very grateful for this, too.  But the basic needs of the seminary come from the churches and all her members working together.

     Of course, cautions are in order.   We at seminary may not take for granted the denominational support.  And as PRC members we must not write our “general fund checks” unaware that a large portion of synodical assessments goes to the running of the seminary.  But cautions aside, now, what a beautiful reality it is:  our seminary does not depend on promotional campaigns or fundraisers.  Every member of the denomination plays his or her part in the financial provisions for the seminary.  Even our students are fully supported by the churches, according to Article 19 of the Church Order, so that they pay nothing for tuition and even, if need be, are given living expenses so that they may devote their attention fully to preparing to be faithful and able pastors.  I am thankful.

Are you, and am I thankful with him for such a blessing?

For more information on this Reformed periodical (including a wealth of archives!), as well as for subscription details, visit the “SB” website linked above.

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